I love this country and believe it is the land of opportunity. I had the pleasure of growing up in a small town, serving in the military, and getting an outstanding education. I am an equity owner in multiple businesses and wake up every morning quite certain I am the luckiest man in the world.
You will not find Key Consulting, Inc. or Michael K. Key on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Key Consulting, Inc. is a very specialized consulting practice that requires a great deal of discretion. I cannot imagine the world wants or needs to know where I had dinner last night or what I am working on.
Key Consulting, Inc. started when I was a graduate student in 1992. A brilliant engineer in Fond du Lac (he actually had registered patents to his name) interviewed me and promptly bought my entire first year of hours. I stood in the parking lot with this strange sense I was on my way and I was only 23 or 24.
Working with Ben, I got to see the struggles of running a company first hand. Making payrolls, obtaining bank credit, and handling constant cash flow issues. Every day was a brawl. Luckily my instructors in the U.S. Army had taught me to be fearless. Not reckless, but fearless and that helped.
As my practice expanded, I saw the same pattern over and over. A small or medium sized company fighting day to day to expand and prosper. The economy would slow or a large customer would exit and the company would find itself on the ropes. Great people in way over their heads with a business on the verge of collapse.
In the past 26 years I have seen businesses pushed to the brink of collapse by overzealous banks. Conversely, I have seen truly skilled bankers help bring a company back to life. I have seen business owners in brand new Humvees talking about the lack of cost reduction options and I have seen people with great businesses ready to throw in the towel just to reduce the strain on their families. What most consider bizarre is often quite run of the mill in turnarounds.
Key Consulting, Inc. is different from other turnaround practices in one very specific way. Every Friday, I sign paychecks for our businesses. I am proud of that. When you sit down with your turnaround consultant, ask them how many paychecks they signed that week. More often than not, the answer is zero. That should tell you something. I am as inclined to wear work boots and Carhartt's as one of my American made suits. Tough to fix a factory from an office 150 miles away I figure.
If I wanted an office in Chicago, I would lease one. If I wanted a BMW, I would buy one. Our log office south of Minocqua and my F150 is fine with me. I am surrounded by great employees, partners, and friends. I love rural America and would live no other way.