Courtney Wright, aka Coco, has the equation for success:
- Stay curious
- Listen to feedback
- Fail a lot
- Make time for friends & family
Coco’s tenacity begins at 4:30AM when she begins to connect the dots. She’s always laser-focused on her master plan. The five-decade old business bombshell is New England born, but calls Illinois her home after attending Lake Forest College. She founded CDW Merchants, the leading provider of 3D visual retail displays and e-commerce gift packaging for the nation’s top retailers, including Kate Spade, Sperry’s and Club Monaco. In 2016, Coco packaged CDW for the last time and sold it to a global billion-dollar company.
Free time isn’t her thing. Coco quickly jumped on an opportunity to buy a company she worked with closely, a vendor to CDW. The downtime didn’t last long. In 2016, Coco bought Gemini Builds It (F/K/A Gemini Moulding). Since the deal closed, she saved 60 jobs, bought a business to close the gap on outsourcing and offers 401K and continuing education to the staff. Gemini is housed in a 50,000 square-foot manufacturing center in Elgin, but Coco has her mind set to double the growth of the business in a year and bring the sales team to Chicago. Coco is one woman making manufacturing cool in Chicago.
Coco wants women to know they can have their cake and eat it too. She has been married to her life and business partner, Larry, for the past 21 years. They live in Winnetka and have two sons. She prides herself on never missing either of her boys’ sporting events and stopping to smell the sweet scent of success.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I had the world’s best job. Well paid, most unbelievable mentor and STILL – my gut was nagging to do my own thing. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and so does my husband, so naturally that is all I know.
Tell us about your business.
Gemini Builds It is truly epic and large – housed in a 50,000 square foot manufacturing center in Elgin.
At Gemini, we believe that nothing about the framing, moulding and custom display case business has to be run-of-the-mill. In fact, we know that everything we do brings joy to our customers because we’re protecting, preserving and highlighting people’s most cherished memories and prized possessions. Whether it’s framing a 100+ year-old Renoir or your daughter’s finest crayon drawing, we bring the same level of care and precision to everything we do because we understand how important your memories are.
Your memories and possessions help make up the fabric of your life, capturing the story of your existence for generations to come. Our goal is to help tell that story by complementing and preserving it for what it truly is. At Gemini, we believe everyone has a history worth telling, and everything we do is rooted in helping make that a possibility.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Yes, all readers will receive 25% off until July 17th, 2017 by using the code: LBB25.
Where is your business based?
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I had to learn about the staff, the process and the holes that needed to be patched & sealed for a more seamless model. I purchased another business to keep another variable of the equation in house.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
I recently went on the delivery route with our driver staff to meet the customers and to ensure we are doing our best. I believe ideas come from the people in the trenches.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
In just a few short months, I realized there was no investment in the staff: the people that are savoring our clients most valuable possessions. So, immediately I offered profit sharing, 401K, birthdays off, donut days, increased every staff members PTO, paid lunch once a month, monthly town halls once a month on key initiatives, social media shoutouts, brought in guest speakers for team building, new uniforms, implemented a safety committee and annual 360 review with the entire staff on a career development plan, so they can set personal and professional goals for the upcoming year.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I support people that make mistakes because that is how you develop a benchmark. I want people to hear what we are doing and be inspired to join the team.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Our team members’ skillful craftsmanship that show up in the final product sets us apart. I take pride in all workmanship and the strong relationships we have with others.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Something from my Dad. He’s my role model and super supporter.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
I have the same 24-hour day you have, but I chose to maximize the hours and surround myself with people who matter.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
My phone and notepad (Leather Alligator of course!) I am a note-taker. I learned at 22 that your subconscious mind goes to work accomplishing things that are written in paper. I religiously write down my goals, dreams and to-do’s. People ask me all the time how I get so much done. Easy I say! I never rely on just my memory! I write stuff down, and that way I always get it done.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Tommy Hilfiger’s book “American Dreamer”. I come from an awesome family. Tommy had a Dad that was not supportive of him, his work or his dreams. I had the exact opposite. Support means the world.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
We currently have 60 employees and will grow to 75 by the end of the year. I encourage people interested in manufacturing, framing, acrylic wood fabrication and graphics to reach out to Gemini.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I am focused on building a sales team in Chicago to close the highway gap between the clients and our production center.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Hashtags #geminibuildsit #madeinchicago #nominimum #geminimoulding #gemini #customframing
#customprinting #showcase #preservingmemories #orderonline
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