All-Star Case Studies

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

Be Found Online (BFO)

Organization Background

Be Found Online (BFO) 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. 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. The company discovered the Great Game of Business based on its interest in the so-called “gamification” of business.

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Jenner Sales Corp.

Jenner Ag, the Case IH Agriculture Application Equipment Distributor for the states of Illinois and Indiana, has been serving its customers for 56 years and counting.

Rapid Financial Results; Lasting Cultural Change

Before the team at Jenner Ag began playing the Great Game of Business, they were doing well – growing at about 5% per year. But thanks to Great Game practices, the company kicked its annual growth rate up a notch to 10%. The company was also very profitable, which was shared with employees through an aggressive bonus plan. 

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Kiolbassa Smoked Meats

Company Background

The Kiolbassa Smoked Meats is a 65-year-old family-owned manufacturer of handcrafted sausage based in San Antonio, Texas. Originally started as more of a pork and beef processor, the company shifted into making sausage full-time under the guidance of president Michael Kiolbassa, whose grandfather started the company. The company’s sausages is now sold in all 50 states and in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

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West Paw Design

Company Background

West Paw Design is a world-class manufacturer of high-quality pet toys, beds, and apparel based in Bozeman, Montana. Founded in 1996, 100% of West Paw Design's products are manufactured in the U.S. using nontoxic, organic, or recyclable materials and are sold largely through independent retailers.

Business Challenges

Manufacturing in the U.S. creates lots of challenges for West Paw, especially when it comes to battling the lower prices offered by its competitors who typically make or source their product from overseas. While the business had been largely successful over the long run, it began to lose money in 2012 – a crisis that triggered the firm’s founder, Spencer Williams, to turn to the GGOB for answers.

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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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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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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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West Paw Design

Company Background

West Paw Design is a world-class manufacturer of eco-friendly and high-quality pet toys and beds based in Bozeman, Montana. More than 3,000 pet retailers carry West Paw Design products domestically while exports to some 38 international locations now account for nearly 20% of revenues. West Paw Design has also been a certified B Corp since 2013.

Williams was just 23 back in 1996 when he bought an existing small business that made dog and cat toys and turned it into his own, which he renamed West Paw Design. “I was too young to know what I was doing,” says Williams, “but I wanted to do something that involved hands-on manufacturing in a neat industry connected to something I love, pets.”

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