Courtney Wright founded CDW Merchants, the leading provider of 3D visual retail displays and e-commerce gift packaging for the nation’s top retailers. In 2016, Courtney packaged CDW for the last time and sold it to a global billion-dollar company. In 2016 she bought Gemini Builds It (F/K/A Gemini Moulding) that is housed in a 50,000 square-foot manufacturing center in Elgin. She's one woman making manufacturing cool in Chicago.
GR&Co: What has been your biggest challenge related to the company’s infrastructure (back office/finance/IT)? And how you handle it?
Courtney: We had personnel here that were the right folks to get the company to the size it was. We are now a very high growth, fast paced business and some of those people won’t be comfortable in the new culture. We are extremely KPI and process driven which is new to a lot of people. We have had to retrain those that were trainable and replace many of the folks on the team.
GR&Co.: Do you have an organization-wide structure to support your company’s growth and profitability?
Courtney: We have two things in place to make SURE results happen. 1) Town Halls-we share regularly our results, team wins, financial performance. 2) KPI’s we share monthly status on results towards our ‘make or breaks’. We are super transparent which ( we believe) is why we allow our entire team to know what part they play and their role in our ultimate success.
GR&Co.: When do you think it is necessary to bring in a third party to support the outgrowth of your company?
Courtney: I think it is helpful to have a “variable cost bench” - people who are subject experts and can help you leapfrog your current level.
GR&Co.: Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
Courtney: I would have to list my first business mentor, Andy McKenna Sr. I worked for him for 17 years. He taught me some remarkable lessons. I feel blessed to have worked for such a successful business person (someone who was willing to let me leave when I was done learning and go off and start a business of my own). I really think to this day he is super proud of me and takes pride in knowing he helped me in part become the business person I am today.