From the Publisher September 2019

July 16th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

There’s Nothing Canned About Good Leadership

“I’m going to teach you how to sell a better product at a fair price and this is how you’re going to build wealth for yourself.” These are the words of Ed Kalaher, president and CEO of Window Depot, one of the industry’s window franchises.

If you are an entrepreneur, doesn’t that inspire you to learn more? It inspires me, and I will get into more of Kalaher’s philosophy, and other window franchise owners later. If you are in the window industry, then you all know that window franchises exist, and you have a pretty good idea of who the big players are. But you have probably wondered more about their inner workings and how they came to exist, and that is what [DWM] editor Drew Vass dug into for his feature article on page 20.

I really loved Drew’s article and then it got me thinking about leadership (a topic I am passionate about), so I started looking into some of these franchise owners more. I know a fair amount about Kalaher, as he writes a monthly blog for [DWM]. I found another blog he writes, Mid-Life Analysis, which is full of wisdom and inspiration—qualities required of a successful leader.

Then there’s Dan Wolt, founder of the Zen Windows franchise, a guy I have interviewed several times and spent some time with at an industry conference. The man has turned the window industry on its head with his unique model of selling windows online. How has the company stayed successful and grown year over year? It’s simple: “Stay true to the model,” says Wolt.

Is he liked by all? Heck no. I have even had conversations about this company with others in the industry and have seen people restrain themselves from saying their comments. His model definitely incites a strong passion—both ways. Perhaps they are thinking: “If you can’t say something nice about a company …”

Back to Kalaher and the inspiration to build wealth. It doesn’t come by doing things your own way.

“If you’re going to utilize our brand, then you’re going to conduct yourself in a way that does not tarnish that brand,” says Kalaher.

It appears he is a leader who is clear about his vision for the company.

Another franchise owner who had a strong vision was Dana Deem, a former president of Window World who retired in 2016. [DWM] interviewed Deem back in September 2012, and he was clear on the Window World model and who they were looking for in potential franchisees. The common denominator was passion and hunger.

For the past four years, I have attended the Global Leadership Summit, a two-day event committed to gathering the nation’s top leadership experts. One of my favorite speakers who I heard my first year, and then again just two weeks ago, is Patrick Lencioni, a best-selling author and consultant who has helped leaders and organizations of all kinds. One of the things he talks about is the importance of being “hungry.”

I’d say that is likely a key characteristic of franchise owners, or any successful business owner for that matter. Hopefully you are reading this and reflecting on whomever you look up to as an inspiring person—someone you want to follow. Or, maybe you are a leader who needed a few reminders that there are fellow employees looking up to you. Maybe someday that hunger will lead you to invest in a franchise. Better yet, maybe it will inspire you to turn your formula into a new franchise concept, so that others can follow in your success.

Tara Taffera is the publisher of [DWM] magazine.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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