Woodbury businessman Caleb Brunz says he knows what ails the nation’s economy.
“It’s our country’s fear,” he said. “That’s our problem—this perpetual fear cycle.”
The 36-year-old has started five new companies in the past few years and now has a team of 14 people who in turn employ another 60 individuals collectively. Paradoxically, doing this during the so-called Great Recession is no huge feat, said Brunz.
“People put all their faith in government and the economy in general,” he said. “When the recession hit, people didn’t have enough emotional fortitude in themselves. … There’s nothing to fear.”
Brunz counts Paul Davis Emergency Services of Woodbury, Floor Coverings International, Paul Davis Restoration of Greater St. Paul, Radiant Change Enterprises and Paul Davis Emergency Services of Bloomington among his companies.
That’s it? “For now,” he said.
He and Stephanie sunk their life savings into their new businesses.
“There’s some value in burning the bridge. For us it is a 'has to work' and not a 'nice to work',” said Brunz, who will soon lead a business seminar at the University of St. Thomas.
One of 13 children growing up in Sioux Falls, S.D., Brunz said the restoration business is “recession resistant, but not recession proof.” Plenty of general contractors moved into the field during the recession, he said, but he hopes his companies are well positioned for the future.
"There is a lot of pent up demand and we want to be ready with our capacity when the economy returns,” Brunz said.
If things with the franchises and business coaching don’t work out, Brunz has a backup plan.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” he said. “We’ve got our double-wide (trailer) in Landfall picked out. It at least has a roof and a heater. As long as we have our family, each other, and a roof over our heads we can be happy."
He said he has been to plenty of “American dream” homes after they have burned down and it is a matter of perspective. "We understand the stress people go through when the unexpected happens and really love to help out, but for us personally a home is more than just a house. It’s wood, sheetrock, paint, and plastic. … It’s really nothing but molecules and materials,” Brunz said.
People have a right to feel disenfranchised, Brunz said. “Big business is broken; government is broken.”
But it doesn’t mean they should stop working toward their dreams, he said. "Getting through adversity and taking risks is like lifting weights—the more reps you do, the stronger you get.”
Friends often ask Brunz how he’s able to maintain the workload. The strategy, he said, is to partner with capable people and let them do what they do best.
“I don’t do it all—that’s the point,” Brunz said. “The philosophy is to get the right people on the team.”
“I don’t believe in balance, I believe in harmony,” Brunz said. “Balance is a façade. There’s a season for everything.”
A member of Five Oaks Community Church, Brunz said he works to maintain that harmony in his physical, financial, spiritual and mental states. “And they’re all connected.”
The attitude helps when everything seems to be “go, go, go,” he said, and gives him a perspective for the next phase in his overall plan—"developing Paul Davis Restoration & Emergency Services into a house hold name across the Twin Cities East Metro by using a hub and spoke model"
“The ultimate vision is to foster a collaboration where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” he said.
Through Dec. 31, 10 percent of all sales at Floor Coverings International will be donated to the Woodbury Community Foundation.
“We wanted to find a way to give back to our community,” Brunz said.
For more information call 612-234-4122.