Continuing on from our conversation in Part 1, Randy Haug and I talked more about the people who helped him get off the ground. We discuss the qualities that Russ Hallberg brought to the ownership team. And we touched on the importance of early and ongoing mentorship.
Randy and Russ knew each other since they were young. 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. And while Russ has a great deal of respect for his dad and brother, being a CPA, Russ looked to do something more on the business side.
“The only request Russ had is would it not be in the construction industry,” Randy chuckles. “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 and how things were going. “I thought we were just having a general chat during lunch,” Randy remembers.
Russ was close to becoming a full partner at his CPA firm. Facing a decision as to whether he should stay on there or go off and use his skills doing something else, Russ considered that conversation deeply. He went home, talked to his wife that night, and called Randy the next day.
“The very next day called up and said, ‘I talked to my wife last night and I think, yeah I’m ready to do this’,” Randy smiles remembering that call. “That was, like, the greatest news to me. Because if we were going to add somebody to our business, and somebody who is 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. Randy also knew the equipment finance business really well at that point. Russ brought strengths in finance, accounting, budgeting, and operational controls.
“So from an operations perspective,” Randy says, “he checked all the boxes.”
With that, Russ rounded out the three original owners. LeaseTeam, Inc. (now LTi Technology Solutions) got off and running.
On the Value of Good Mentors
One of the things I ask Randy about are the people who Randy looked up to and learned from during those early years. Randy is very relationship driven, whether you are a customer 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 tells me. “Because I can learn one or two things from every conversation.”
Knowing how important people are to Randy, I ask him about who specifically guided him, supported him, and offered advice and encouragement 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 resources Randy, Russ, and Phil had in the beginning was an executive roundtable group they formed. 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 to overcome those issues,” Randy says. “We shared things that were happening in our business. 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 Equipment Finance Industry
Finally, Randy emphasizes how important it’s been for him to be engaged with other members of the equipment finance industry for the past 30 years.
“One of the things that’s 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,” Randy says. “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.”
Randy’s involvement goes being getting advice. He values being a resource for others, too, someone people can come to and trust for help and any guidance they need.
“It’s a way for me to give back to the industry that’s been really, really good to me…So I’ve really enjoyed all of that.”