President and chief executive officer
2013 revenue: $14.4 million
Mike Harris could be considered one of the most successful and prolific entrepreneurs in the State of Wisconsin. His latest venture, Brookfield-based Patina Solutions, recently opened an office in Detroit – its 10th location since 2009.
The company garnered nearly $15 million in revenue in 2013 and is projected to exceed $20 million by the end of the year. Patina had approximately $600,000 in revenue in 2009, its first year in business.
“It can take five to seven years to really build an organization,” said Harris, president and chief executive officer of Patina. “It takes time, and I’m ok, knowing that in that first year we just have to prove the concept. That has been the most important thing for me when starting all of my companies. You have to have a long-term growth plan.”
Harris has had three different companies, including Patina, make the Inc. 5,000/500 list of fastest-growing companies.
His company, Jefferson Wells International, Inc. was purchased by Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup in 2001 for nearly $175 million, and remains one of the most successful startup to exit stories in state history.
“As a leader I have to be the keeper of the flame,” he said. “I’m always enthusiastic about what we are doing, but I’m also honest about the challenges. I really appreciate the people who take the plunge with me, and I try to keep my eye on the prize, and remind people what we’re really out there to do by being confident and being a good communicator and ambassador for the company.”