All-Star Case Studies

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

Fresno First Bank

Company Background

Fresno First Bank opened in December 2005 by a local group of successful business people, some of whom had experience with the successful Regency Bank, which sold at the end of 1999. In 2007, after the CEO’s position opened up, the bank brought in Rick Whitsell, an experienced banker, to fill the position. Two weeks later, the chief financial officer and chief credit officer resigned, which created an opportunity to Whitsell to bring in his own team. At the same time, the bank’s chairman, David Price, happened to be a fan of the Great Game of Business, so he suggested that the bank’s management team go to Springfield, MO, to see how the Great Game was played.

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Clarke EyeCare Center

Company Background

Dr. Calvin Clarke opened Clarke EyeCare Center in Wichita Falls, Texas, back in 1973. His son, Danny, and his daughter-in-law, Elizabeth – who met each other at optometry school – then joined the practice in 1995. In 2010, the younger Clarke's bought the business - which provides optometry services, prescription glasses and contact lens - though the senior Dr. Clarke continues to see patients. The Clarke's began playing The Great Game of Business a few months after the change in ownership.

Business Challenges

While the business was doing well operationally, Clarke knew that his profits were some-what low relative to the industry and, more importantly, cash flow was not where it needed to be. “Bills would come in and checks would go out, but it was always borderline with how much money we had in the bank,” he says. Dr. Clarke also knew that his peers in the op-tometry field who were financially successful tended to be micro-managers when it came to the business side of the operation. He wasn’t interested. Rather, he hoped that playing the GGOB with his associates would bring about even better results than anything he could do on his own.

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Sun Design

Company Background

Started nearly two decades ago in Burke, Virginia, Sun Design – which focuses exclusively on the residential home renovation market – operates under the principles of truth, charity and fun. The company began playing the Great Game of Business in 2008 under the guidance of its owners – Craig Durosko and Bob Gallagher– and the company’s Game Master, Sandy Harris. “We stumbled a bit in the beginning implementing things like MiniGames,™” she says. “But we have continued to get better at playing the Game and it has made a huge difference in our results.”

Business Challenges

Few industries felt the sting of the recession more than the residential construction business did over the past few years - a pain that Sun Design shared in. “Coming off of two very successful years in 2006 and 2007, we began 2008 with high hopes and great expectations,” says Harris. “Then, as the market began to slide and our leads began to slow, we saw a significant decrease in revenues with an overall drop of 6.9% for 2008 from the previous year.” To compensate for this drop, the company suffered through its first ever layoff.

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Advantax Group

Company Background

David LeVan founded Advantax Group, which provides corporate property tax consulting and compliance services, back in 1995 after a successful career working at Kraft Foods and Coopers & Lybrand. While the company has a 20-year track record in saving its clients time and money, it was a chance encounter with Tom Walter of Tasty Catering in Chicago in 2012 that turned LeVan on to the potential opportunities of embracing the GGOB in his business – an effort the firm kicked off in January 2013.

Business Challenges

For years, LeVan admits he struggled to find the best way to share his firm’s financial num-bers with his associates. “As an owner, you can feel the pressure of owning all the num-bers,” he says, noting that the firm’s projects were also largely run inside silos where infor-mation wasn’t readily shared. “I was intrigued by the idea that if we gave people the con-text, we could get everyone on the same page and more engaged in the business.”

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Woodward Printing Services

Company Background

Woodward Printing Services (WPS) – a division of Woodward Communications – is a full-service, progressive printing company that specializes in high-quality web and sheet-fed printing, mailing and delivery. To date, WPS is the only one of Woodward’s six divisions to have opened their books, but their early success has sparked Tom Woodward, great-grandson of the company’s founder and current president and CEO, to think about expanding it throughout the company. “From my seat, the Great Game of Business fits nicely into our participative culture and family atmosphere, which dates back 100 years,” says Woodward.

Business Challenges

Commercial printing is an extremely competitive business with razor-thin margins, which means any job has the potential to turn into a loss if any mistakes are made. And, despite being a 60% employee-owned company, they needed to get more efficient. Case in point: while WPS generated about 12% of Woodward’s revenues, it represented less than 4.5% of its profits. “It was somewhat embarrassing that we didn’t have a good handle on profita-bility,” says Marty Ploessl, WPS’ operations manager. “We needed to find a way to help employees understand more clearly how what they do impacts the bottom line.”

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