D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership

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Wettstein Article 2006

Wettstein gives business advice at Viterbo lecture

By STEVE CAHALAN | La Crosse Tribune

Know your business cycles and your competition, hire good managers and let them run their departments.

That was some of the advice Dan Wettstein gave Wednesday at Viterbo University, in the fourth and final installment of this school year's Brown Bag lecture series. The series features leading local business people discussing the elements of successful business leadership.

In April 2005, Wettstein and his wife, Gerianne, became sole owners of the Wettstein's appliance and electronics store at 215 N. Third St. in downtown La Crosse, as well as Lighting Design by Wettstein's, the Wettstein's professional audio/visual business and the Wettstein's video rental store in Onalaska, Wis.

Dan and brothers John and Ralph had co-owned the businesses for 18 years. Last year, John sold his interest in all of the businesses and Ralph became sole owner of the Wettstein's electrical contracting business as well as the Wettstein's industrial automation business.

Their parents, Howard and Marie Wettstein, started Wettstein's in 1951.

Dan Wettstein said Wednesday he has learned what he knows about business from his family and his employees.

He said the businesses he and his wife own have about 110 employees and are expected to have more than $10 million in sales this year. The businesses donate about $50,000 a year in money, products, services and time to community causes, he said.

Wettstein said successful people always have dreams and visions but can't expect everything to turn out perfect. "The true joy of life is the trip," he said.

He said people are completely in charge of what they do. "So don't cheat yourself and don't cheat those around you," he said. "For at the end of the day, you have to look yourself in the mirror."

Wettstein said some best business practices he learned from his brothers include "You've got to know your business cycles. You've got to know when to adjust your labor. You've got to know when to adjust your advertising. You've got to know when to adjust your cost."

He added, "You've got to know your competition. You've got to know what they do. You've got to know how they do it. And you've got to study your competition and find their strengths and weaknesses."

Wettstein also said his advertising targets women because they make most of the decisions on appliance and electronics purchases.

Steve Cahalan can be reached at 608-791-8229 or scahalan@lacrossetribune.com.
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