In 1976, Curtis Rudy moved his family from Peoria, Ill., to Wisconsin, with no relatives, contacts or business. Eight years and countless frustrations later, Rudy and his wife, Judy, started CJ & Associates Inc. on April 1, 1984.
“I’ll never forget driving into the parking lot that Monday morning,” he said. “I saw the guy scratching off the old name and by the end of the day the new name was painted on the door.”
Though April Fool’s Day may seem like an ominous date to start a business, Rudy’s success has been no joke. CJ & Associates brought in $14 million in revenue in 2007 and will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2009.
Rudy has built his company around a team-oriented philosophy and the idea that he has two sets of customers: clients and employees. As a result, company loyalty has become a hallmark, as 75 percent of the current employees have been with CJ & Associates for more than five years.
“Whenever I go out and talk to my people, it gives me great satisfaction to know that they care about the company enough to stay with the company,” he said.
Though he never pushed them into the family business, Rudy said he is proud that both of his children, Gregory Rudy and Kim Hastings, have taken on pivotal roles within the company.
“I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the world,” Curtis Rudy said. “I don’t think there are a lot of fathers, grandpas, CEOs – whatever you want to call me – that can say that.”
Hastings, now president of the company, said she is proud to be a part of something her father created.
“He built a business on a foundation of honesty, ethics and integrity that is beyond reproach,” said Hastings who nominated her father for the IQ Award. “The loyalty and commitment he has shown to his employees the last 24 years is inspiring.”
Address: 16915 W. Victor Road, New Berlin
Web Site: www.cjassociatesinc.com
Industry: Interior design
Revenues: $14 million in 2007