In 2021, we had the pleasure of speaking to an assortment of brilliant, creative and hard working business professionals. In order to properly celebrate them, we decided to take a look back at many of the great photos we took in 2021.
In your role, you have a unique opportunity to speak with and learn about pain points from a wide array of businesses in the community. Is there anything universally we, as a community, can do to help those businesses you are speaking with?
Talk to the business owners and show them support! Simply drop them a note through email or engage in a conversation the next time you are in the store. Business owners are still going through a tough time right now. Just knowing their customers are thinking of them will make them feel valued and as a consumer, we will better understand their needs.
2021 was a huge year for Bushel. Your company secured $47 million in investments and acquired another business. What did you learn about managing drastic change in 2021?
We’re on a mission to help digitize the ag supply chain, to help create the ag digital infrastructure as we call it. We need incredible talent in order to accomplish this mission. Bushel has always been flexible and agile in how we serve our customers and how we are set up to respond to changes that come in real-time. For us, what we saw was the scale and scope of our team. We increased our team headcount by more than 30%, are more dispersed throughout the U.S and added a second headquarters in Omaha. This means being more intentional and frequent with our communication to keep our team aligned and to drive clarity of work.
As a public official and businessman, you have a unique lens to view the world from. What do you expect from the business community in 2022?
My public official perspective is that it is going to be expensive going into 2022 for infrastructure improvements. A small town like Hillsboro has older infrastructure, some more than 70 years old. The cost of materials during the pandemic has increased dramatically and now inflation is exacerbating the situation. Keeping these costs under control will be a priority for Hillsboro so that our citizens, especially those on fixed incomes, don’t lose their quality of life. We are having some success in adding industry and the new Riverwalk Development opportunities in Hillsboro. These will help to grow our community and add new workforce. The City Commission will be looking for assistance with workforce development and training for the future. An example is what type of training will be need for Electric Vehicles and electric drive Ag Equipment. Changing from internal combustion engines with around 1500 moving parts to Electric with maybe only 25 moving parts will create a new workforce. These are all issues that will drive a lot of discussion on how to prepare our community for the rapidly changing landscape of these technological opportunities.
With my businessman’s hat on, I see many of the same challenges in the business community. The cost of doing business has gone up and in many instances it may be hard to pass those costs off to the customer. Technology is going to accelerate change and how you enable the workforce to adapt and train will be a priority. Having the leadership skills and team building expertise to build an organization that can adapt in a constantly changing environment will be important attributes. The nation needs to think locally for supply chain opportunities and be more adept at onshoring opportunities. The pandemic should have taught us that it isn’t good to rely on a near peer competitor for many of our products. The younger generations want quality and they want to know where it was produced, this should be the backbone of any business. Social media will become more prevalent in any marketing plan and could cause unexpected second and third-order effects that may be hard for a small business to adapt to. Being an optimist, I see 2022 full of opportunities, but just as many challenges. I think 2022 will be a tough year for small business and hopefully a year where the economy gets a full recovery to set up 2023 as a great year.
Are there any trainings, TED Talkx, etc. that you think other young professionals in the community should look into?
I think every young professional should attend training on how to negotiate effectively. As young professionals, we might not have the experience in negotiating, but it’s an essential skill to have or dust off. There are big negotiations like starting a new job or small ones like wanting the office to dress more casually
Your business expanded to a new market this year. What advice can you give to other businesses looking to do the same?
One thought to consider is deciding what your priorities are related to the business you are involved with. How will you identify how you will hire needed staff or make yourself known to the customer base you hope to connect with. How will you define and measure success? Will, it be increased revenue, growth of employees, expanding and developing client relationships? These are the types of things we discussed when our company looked at adding another location.
As the CEO of a 3D printing company, you find yourself at the forefront of innovation every single day. What do you see from the technology sector that will shake up the world of business in 2022?
I think we will continue to see the advancement of automated processes, whether that takes the form of new customer interactivity on smartphones or the utilization of robotics to complete mundane tasks. -John Olhoft