All-Star Case Studies

Learn from the "Best of the Best" - the Great Game All-Stars

Mid America Metals

Company Background

Mid America Metals got its start when Donat, who had earned his chops in business working at a large auto dealership in Chicago, teamed up with his two brothers, who were both metal refinishers, to start their own business. “We started out of the back seat of our car,” says Donat, about his business which performs services like removing a scratch from an elevator
door, honing and polishing a lobby floor, or restoring a building’s wooden accents. When Donat bought out his family members five years ago, he wanted to build a common core or culture for the company despite the geographic differences that separated his associates. He turned to the GGOB for help and 2014 was the first year where the entire company was engaged in financial literacy training, huddling, and forecasting.

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SRC Electrical

Company Background

SRC Electrical, which re-manufactures starters, alternators, and generators for the agricultural and construction industries, has been playing the GGOB since its start as a joint venture with Case New Holland back in 1991. Over time, and especially after the company became entirely owned by SRC in 2009, SRC Electrical has become one of open-book management’s most prominent evangelists. Today, it serves as a showcase for visitors interested in learning how to play the GGOB from the best of the very best.

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Be Found Online

Company Background

BFO (Be Found Online) is a Chicago-based digital marketing agency that delivers organic media, paid media, local search, and digital analytics solutions to medium-sized and enterprise-level businesses. The company discovered the Great Game of Business based on its interest in the so-called “gamification” of business.

BFO’s roots date back to 2009 when its two founders, Dan Golden, now president, and Steve Krull, CEO, left their big agency careers to create a more nimble and vibrant working environment. As Krull puts it: “We maintain a culture of passionate, fun people who cultivate enduring client relationships based on accountability, inspired by creativity, and driven by analytics.”

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AEP SWEPCO – Pirkey

Company Background

American Electric Powers’ (AEP) Pirkey Power Plant in Hallsville, Texas, has been providing low-cost power to its customers since 1985. The plant is part of a division of AEP called Southwestern Electric Power (SWEPCO), which is composed of eleven plants over a three-state region that includes parts of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Business Challenges 

Operating in a heavily regulated industry creates different challenges for a plant like Pirkey, says Drew Seidel, the plant’s manager, especially when it comes to thinking about revenue, which is something outside the plant’s control. What Seidel and his team can focus on, however, is controlling costs. “We have more things to take care of than we have money to take of them with,” says Seidel, who has been with AEP for more than 20 years. “And the leaner we run and the more waste we eliminate, the more things we can do.”

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O’Connells OBM

Company Background

O’Connells OBM is a progressive chartered accounting firm based in Brisbane, Australia, that specializes in providing its clients with proactive tax and business advisory services. The OBM in the firm’s name is short for open-book management, which the company first em-braced some 15 years ago.

Business Challenges

The O’Connells’ team has long been a fan of not just open-book management, but also the GGOB – all of which dates back to a trip by Jack Stack to Australia in 2001. Inspired by what they heard, they immediately implemented several components of the Game such as play-ing MiniGames and set about creating an ESOP plan which now owns 24% of the business. While the firm noticed immediate success in the following years, things began to turn sour in 2010 when it experienced a decline in revenue for the first time in a little over 30 years of doing business – and 2011 looked even more ominous. “All of a sudden things felt very much out of control,” says Adam Dierselhuis, O’Connells’ director.

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Mid America Metals

Company Background

Mid America Metals is a 29-year-old firm based in Forsyth, Missouri, that provides metal, stone, wood, and glass refinishing and restoration services to primarily Class A office buildings across the U.S.

Great Game Solutions

Mid America had always been a company with strong family values because so many of the Donat family worked there. It all started when Donat, who had earned his chops in business working at a large auto dealership in Chicago, teamed up with his two brothers, who were both metalworkers, to start their own business.

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Kiolbassa Provision Company

Company Background

Kiolbassa Provision Company is a fast-growing craft manufacturer of authentic premium sausage and food products. The company’s
sausages, which are often described as “the best sausage I’ve ever had in my life,” are now sold across the U.S. and Mexico.

Playing the Game Together

In 2016, for the first time in 20 years, Kiolbassa struggled to grow sales. Because of that decline in sales growth, the company struggled to be able to take advantage of the weak commodities markets – which greatly impacted the company’s profitability.

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Tasty Catering

Company Background

Tasty Catering began as a fast-food hot dog stand called Tasty Dawg more than 25 years ago. Founded by a trio of entrepreneurial brothers, Tom, Larry and Kevin Walter, the company, which is based in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, now serves up tasty treats at weddings, corporate meetings and conferences, social events, residential parties, special events, holiday parties, outdoor picnics, and more. Beyond its great food, Tasty has also garnered dozens of awards for its outstanding company culture.

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Texas Air Composites

Company Background

Founded in January 2000 in Fort Worth, Texas, Texas Air Composites (TAC) repairs and overhauls aircraft for airlines and other private owners all over the world.

Business Challenges

While TAC weathered some tough economic times early in its history, it hit a significant wall in 2010 where the company lost money and was forced to lay off associates. While the company had been using the GGOB from its earliest days, the crisis spurred renewed efforts to go deeper with the Game and unleash TAC’s associates in helping turn the com-pany’s fortunes around.

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Van Belle Nursery

Company Background

Van Belle Nursery is a commercial supplier of trees, plants, and shrubs based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. The company, which was founded in 1973, ships to a variety of retailers in western Canada as well as in the northern U.S.

Business Challenges

One of the biggest challenges that the nursery faces is finding a way to build a cohesive com-pany culture for its 100 associates, most of whom are immigrants from companies like Mexico, Iraq, Sudan, Zimbabwe, China, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, and India, and even a few from Canada.

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