Archives for category: entrepreneurs

In 1979, serial entrepreneur David Jorgensen co-founded Katun Corporation in his partner’s home. His partner acted as CEO while Mr. Jorgensen provided startup funding and a direction for growth. The company sells aftermarket parts, supplies, and accessories that are compatible with brand-name printers, copiers, and other office imaging equipment. Early on, the firm included a small warehouse and a few employees. In their wildest dreams, the friends envisioned expanding Katun to $10 million in sales and then selling. With excellent market timing and complementary skills, the men moved to a larger space in the early 1980s and grew the staff to 50.

At this point, Katun acquired Bedford International, a European company selling copier supplies and parts, and established a presence in England and France. By 1990, David Jorgensen had developed key partnerships with top manufacturers, including Stanley Electric Co., Ltd.; Ricoh Americas Corp.; Gestetner; and Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation. In the next few years, Katun debuted Minco Manufacturing, LLC, a subsidiary in Colorado, and opened a distribution center in the Netherlands. A North American distribution center in Iowa followed, as did European expansion. In the late 1990s, the partners at Katun constructed a Research and Development Annex to test and perfect products. They acquired fax-products supplier EBS as well as D&R Products, a provider of parts for high-speed printers.

Back to those wildest dreams. David Jorgensen assumed the reins as Chairman of the Board of Katun in 2000 as sales reached $350 million. He led the negotiations to sell the company in 2002 to a group of private-equity investors. David Jorgensen holds an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, an MBA, and a Master’s degree in engineering. He also completed the coursework for a Ph.D., but his education accounts for only a portion of his success in business. The rest stems from his entrepreneurial vision, his ability to lead, and his eye for partners who complement his skills.

The relationship between Coldwater Cattle Company President Joe Batson and the Amarillo, Texas business community extends over a lifetime involved in ranching, oil and gas development, and media production. Born into a prominent cattle and ranching family with more than a century of history in the Texas Panhandle, Joe Batson began working for Coldwater Cattle Company as a teenager in the 1960s. He initially fulfilled cowboy responsibilities traditional to ranching on the high plains. He also earned pilot licenses for helicopter and fixed wing aircraft at an early age, allowing him to take the position of Chief Pilot. He later undertook the role of Vice President.

Today, Joe Batson is well-recognized in the Amarillo community as President of Coldwater Cattle Company and as an Officer of the Grid Oil Company. He also has executive experience in the financial industry, having chaired the First National Bank of Dumas in Amarillo prior to its 1986 sale.

In addition to his background in ranching and banking, Mr. Batson has enjoyed a distinguished career in advertising and media production. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Communication and Radio-Television-Film, he worked for several years as a Purchaser at the Amarillo advertising firm Monte Rosenwald and Associates. In 1981, he established Berneta Communications, Inc., a film company that produced nationally recognized films for nonprofit groups such as the United Way. Joe Batson maintains longstanding involvement in annual productions of TEXAS, the Official Play of the State of Texas, by the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation, of which he is a founding lifetime member.

While you’ve most certainly heard Warren Buffett dubbed as the Oracle of Omaha, you may not be familiar with some of the companies under his wing. Berkshire Hathaway is one such company. It ranked seventh in 2011 on Fortune’s list of the 500 largest companies boasting of $136 billion in revenues and $12 billion in profits (CNN Money). The company which is labeled as a conglomerate holding company got its start manufacturing textiles back in 1839. After a merger with Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates in 1955, Berkshire Hathaway was operating 15 plants with more than 12,000 workers; however, by the end of the 1950s, seven of these plants were closed (Wikipedia).

Warren Buffett. Photo by Mark Hirschey.

Buffett started purchasing stock in Berkshire Hathaway in 1962 after studying the stock price pattern following each subsequent plant closing. Only two short years later, he realized the textile business was not going to rebound so he accepted a verbal offer to sell the stock for a specific price. When Buffett received the agreement in writing, the seller was offering a slightly lower price per stock ­which is actually an eighth of a cent lower. Buffett, angry at the deception, refused to sell his shares instead bought up more of the company’s stock.

Although Buffett admitted in 2010 that had he sold the stocks and invested his money directly in insurance companies, he would have made more money; the company is ranked in the top 10 on the Fortune 500, up from number 11 in 2010. Berkshire Hathaway owns several companies including National Indemnity Company and GEICO. Even though Buffett could have made more money in the long-term if he sold, he stuck to his principles and did not accept a sneaky attempt at a lower offer on the Berkshire Hathaway. He also turned the company from a faltering textile manufacturer into a holding company with billions of dollars in revenue.