Digital Magazine

Getting Personal With Michael Nowak

Experience Speaks

Who is your personal hero?
Vince Lombardi—he recognized that winning is everything and always strove to win.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out in business?
How to get along with people and give everyone an opportunity to give their input into a decision. Over time, management styles have become less autocratic and dictatorial. My personal management style is participative—employee input is solicited before making decisions.

What is the biggest mistake you made and how did you fix it?
I was a manager for a large company that did not care about the people it employed. My partner and I started our own standalone greenfield extrusion coating business in 1997 where we can treat people as valued contributors to the company’s success.

At a Glance
Coating Excellence Intl.
975 Broadway St.
Wrightstown, WI 54180
Founded in 1997
2 Plants—550,000 sq. ft.
290 Employees
Specializing in flexo printing, extrusion coating and laminating, electron beam coating and laminating

Give an example of how employees contribute to the company’s success.
We have a lot of people involved in the recruitment process. We do a lot of group interviews because we think you can build off of what somebody else is saying. We rely on recommendations from employees. Bringing in someone you know puts a little onus on you, too, to be sure it’s a good employee you’re recommending. That tends to work well for us.

What keeps you up at night with regard to your business?
How to react to and capitalize on all the opportunities available.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Be prepared for huge ups and downs from day to day. It is best to have associates around that are acyclical to you so that when you are down they are up and are able to bring you up.

What was the best advice you ever got?
Make a decision—even a wrong decision is better than no decision at all.

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