Gary Winkler Linkedin
President at Brothers Desserts
– Did you have the aim of starting this business when you were a student?
G: No, my story is very personal and my life took me into this direction. I moved to California because my parents moved there. I was finishing college and my mother got very ill with cancer and I came out to take care of her. Then, she passed away and we were trying to figure out what to do, and we started the business. It was not planned, life takes us all in a certain direction. I did plan to get into business, but up until that point, I planned nothing.
– Is it comfortable to have a family business? How is it to be business partners with your brother?
G: That’s another lesson that I’ve got to share. Having a partner is not easy. It doesn’t matter if it’s business or marriage or whatever. It is very challenging for two people to work together in a positive manner. We are different species and we have struggled for many years. That put a lot of stress on the partnership. The fact that we are brothers added another element of stress to that situation. After about 20 years together we broke up. We went separate ways and decided who’s going to take what. That was after we tried to do pretty much everything. We even had psychological therapy together. And then, about 5 years ago I reached back to my brother, and he joined back to the company. So he is still involved, but for about 20 years I was doing it on my own.
– Tell me about the biggest problems at the very beginning. What was the hardest for you?
G: Knowing business is one of the most important things. When I started I was 22. I was a young kid, I didn’t know much. I spent many years learning the business. If anybody who reads this wants to hear my advice, I have a strong suggestion. If you have some particular idea, interest or concept, work within the industry. Learn it as much as you can before going out on your own. Understand the circumstances and the nature of the business. I have learned it all by myself and it took many years.
– Have you ever used some investments?
G: Investors have their own agenda and expectations. It’s like a marriage — if you go into it, make sure you’re with the right partner. I’ve been fortunate to be able to get through my business without investors. I never found anyone I’d be comfortable with. And so I continued to struggle. But you can find an investor, and if it’s the right person, it’s great. Everyone needs capital. Having a strong financial background is a key.
I started my business 45 years ago with a minimum amount of money. I’ve been able to support and grow my company with banking. I managed to do it, but it’s a slow way to go. It also depends on the business. I am in a manufacturing business, which is pretty capital-intense.
– Your revenue in 2018 was 38.8 Million. What are the aims of 2020?
G: We are even pushing close to $50 million this year. We’re growing in about 20% a year. So if we continue doing it, in a few years I hope it will be $100 million. But, again, you need to have a factory in place. We’re in a process now of building a new factory, that is many times a size to what we’re doing now.
– Which books could you recommend for those, who start their business?
G: I read a book written by Eliyahu M. Goldratt called “The Goal”, which I found enjoyable. It was written back in 1984 and raised really important things about running a company and being in business.
– Few words for young entrepreneurs. What is a must-have? And what they shouldn’t do?
G: First of all, as an entrepreneur, you should be able to accept the risk and question the circumstances. If you don’t have a vision and not willing to put yourself out to create that vision, so you shouldn’t do it. You should work for another company, get paid every week and move on with your life. But if you have a burning desire to change and improve things — go ahead. What I always say to my people is that they should be bold, but calculative.
Look down the road and be aggressive. But make sure you have all your numbers worked out and all your strategy thought out. Think about the most successful way to do it.
If you’re an entrepreneur you’d better be able to accept risks and be bold. You better be able to handle the unexpected things that come up, dealing with the unknown. Be able to bear responsibility, because people will look at you. You are the boss and you can’t push it off to somebody else. Because sometimes when things are not going well, you will be in charge of everything that must be done.
I would advise young entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and be ready to take risks. Actually, that’s what entrepreneurship is all about.
Another important thing here is to humble. Don’t be arrogant, it only leads to problems. Remember that there is always somebody smarter than you and there is always something you don’t know. And humility helps to meet all these things in a healthy way, but if you are arrogant, they will break you.