Continuing our conversation from last time, Randy Haug and I talked more about the people who helped him and LTi Technology Solutions, formerly LeaseTeam, Inc. get off the ground. We discussed the qualities that Russ Hallberg brought to the ownership team, and the importance of early and ongoing mentorship.
Randy and Russ knew each other since they were young, as we talked about in Part 1. Over the years, they floated the possibility of doing something together one day, maybe even starting a business. Russ grew up working for his dad’s construction business. While Russ carries great respect for his dad and brother, being a CPA, Russ wanted to do something more on the business side.
“The only request Russ had is would it not be in the construction industry,” Randy chuckled. “So, the first thing I did when we got the opportunity to start our company was, I talked to Russ about it and what we were doing. And Russ said to me, ‘Yeah, if there’s ever an opportunity that comes up for me to join that company, I’d be very interested.’”
One Fateful Lunch
Over lunch one day, Randy updated Russ on the new business, what he and Phil were doing, and how things were going. “I thought we were just having a general chat during lunch,” Randy remembers.
However, Russ was thinking deeper about that conversation. At this time, he was close to becoming a full partner at his CPA firm. He was facing a decision as to whether he should stay on there, or go off and use his skills doing something else. So that night Russ went home and talked to his wife. She was another person Randy knew very well from school.
Randy smiles when he remembers the phone call he got:
“The very next day he called up and said, ‘I talked to my wife last night, and I think, yeah I’m ready to do this’…That was like, the greatest news to me.”
Randy was very excited about his longtime friend joining the company. “Because if we were going to add somebody to our business,” Randy said, “and somebody who was going to be my partner, I knew all about Russ and I knew what he knew, and I knew how smart he was and how bright he was…”
Phil Lieber and Randy Haug both came from Sales and Marketing backgrounds. So they were very strong in that area. Randy also knew the equipment finance business really well. Russ’s strengths were in finance, accounting, budgeting, and operational controls. “So from an operations perspective,” Randy said, “he checked all the boxes.”
With that, Russ rounded out the three original owners. And LeaseTeam, Inc. (now LTi) was off and running.
On the Value of Good Mentors
One of the things I wanted to know more about were the people that Randy looked up to during those early years. Randy is very relationship driven. It doesn’t matter if you are one of his customers or not. He wants to understand who you are, what you know, and what life is like from your perspective.
“I’m the type of person that always wants to listen to other people and what their experiences are,” Randy told me, “because I can learn one or two things from every conversation.”
Knowing this about Randy, I figured there were certain people who Randy went to for support, encouragement, and advice early on.
“I had a number of friends that were business owners, and they were very, very successful. I looked at how they treated their employees, how they worked with their customers… and I kind of got a good grounding as to how I thought we should do things at LTi.”
One of the most valuable things that Randy said he and the other two owners did early on was to form an executive roundtable group. This group, made up of other local business owners in the Omaha area, met on a monthly basis.
“We talked about issues that everybody was having with their businesses, and how they overcome those issues. We shared things that were happening in our businesses. You’d be surprised how often you’re all having the same types of issues. And you get a chance to think through them together.”
Want to learn more about the value of mentorship for entrepreneurs? Check out this recent article from The Startup Magazine.
On Being Active within the Industry
Finally, Randy emphasized how important it has been for him to be engaged in the equipment finance industry over the past 30 years:
“One of the things that important for me personally is I’ve always been a member of the different boards of the leasing associations, and I’ve been very active with that. You meet a lot of smart people that can help you, even if they’re not doing business with you. Just how they think and their thought process. Just being involved in the industry has been very helpful.”
His involvement goes beyond just getting advice. Randy values being a resource for others, too, someone people can come to and trust for help and any guidance they might need.
“And it’s a way for me to give back to the industry that’s been really, really good to me. By being involved and by being actively involved. So I’ve really enjoyed all of that.”
Extended Interview with Randy Haug – Part 2
Want to hear more of my conversation with Randy Haug? Check out what he has to say about the various firms they partnered with early on and how he feels about those investments. I’ll give you a hint: he’s happy about it now! Randy is also looking forward to the future of LTi:
“I’m really excited about where we’re going as a company…It’s more of the same of what we’ve had, but in an exciting, bigger way.”
Thanks for being part of our 30th anniversary celebrations!
Content Marketing Specialist
LTi Technology Solutions
P.S. If you missed Part 1, be sure to check it out here and learn more about Randy’s beginnings and how his upbringing influenced his entrepreneurial spirit!