Kopplin has not only continued to advertise with BoardRoom for the past 25 years, but he and his compatriots have also written dozens of articles on various club management and governance topics for BoardRoom.
“John’s proven to be a good friend and we have watched our respective businesses grow and prosper over time,” Kopplin recalled recently.
When he started the company 25 years ago, Kopplin decided a great way to market his company’s search services would be to offer information and education sessions to the many CMAA chapters around the country.
“I shared some of my experiences from decades of club management and talked about how club managers could more effectively work with their board members. John Fornaro was very supportive of my efforts and BoardRoom magazine often shared the same message I was delivering to club managers around the country,” Kopplin added.
Shortly after launching his company, another fortuitous meeting occurred. A mutual friend introduced Kopplin to Steve Graves, the owner of Creative Golf Marketing, another industry consultant.
“I found we shared the same philosophy about private club governance and Steve introduced me to the board of a small club in Kansas needing a new general manager. That happened to be a successful search, after which I began to receive calls from other potential clients. My search business began to flourish,” Kopplin recalled.
“Club executives have always been eager to discuss the ‘best practices’ for private club management and governance. I delivered hundreds of presentations to individual clubs as well as CMAA and CMAA’s chapter meetings. As well, writing in every issue of BoardRoom magazine provided great exposure for the company.”
Kopplin added: “No question, my focus on education resonated with club general managers and club board members.”
There’s an adage, especially for budding entrepreneurs, “One and one makes three.” After working solo for a couple of years, Kopplin realized he needed some help. One person couldn’t do all the work required for a growing company, so Kopplin turned to Nan Fisher, whom he recruited and had worked with for many years at Desert Mountain. “Nan took a chance on helping me build this little company and has been with me, providing strong administrative support, for 23 of the last 25 years,” Kopplin said.
As Kopplin Search, Inc. grew, so did the need for more help. Kopplin fostered a friendship with Kurt Kuebler and lured him away from a successful management career to join the Kopplin group as a partner.
“Seven years ago, we added Tom Wallace as a partner in what is now Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace. So, from the two of us, me and Nan, our firm has grown to include 17 associates, either as search and consulting executives or staff in administrative support roles,” Kopplin explained. It hasn’t all been a bed of roses for many companies, including Kopplin’s group, servicing the private club industry. The great recession of 2008 put a damper on activities as many companies and clubs struggled with just surviving, let alone growing and expanding. Much the same has happened again, as the industry has hunkered down and has had to develop innovative ideas to meet club members’ demands during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not all gloom and doom. “We’re very optimistic about the future and evaluate opportunities that we see emerging as we come out of this terrible pandemic,” Kopplin emphasized.
“The private club business has proven to be resilient and we have been proud to partner with so many great general managers, club department heads and board members creatively to survive and thrive in these challenging times.”
It’s been a long time since Kopplin picked up that phone call from a club president in Eau Claire, WI that put Kopplin on a path of incredible success.
“Working in this industry is my passion. It’s something I enjoy every day,” Kopplin added. “My KK&W partners and associates keep me very busy and while I don’t travel a million miles a year anymore, I’m fortunate to work on the projects I choose.
“I’ve cherished every one of my 45 years in the private club industry, and I tell people who ask what I am doing these days that these are not my retirement years. They’re my Renaissance years!” To which we say, Amen!
COVER STORY BY DAVE WHITE, EDITOR, BOARDROOM MAGAZINE
BY JOHN FORNARO, PUBLISHER
Today, we honor Dick Kopplin for the part he has played in the success of BoardRoom magazine. Both, Dick and I started our companies at the same time… 25 years ago.
Kopplin Search, founded by Dick, happened to be our first advertiser and has been advertising with us for 25 years.
Dick’s support has been another significant contribution to us, and a belief, many in the industry were not accepting, of the need for development of the private club board of directors. That belief? That an informed board is good and uninformed board member is not.
Today it continues that many clubs are setting there board members to fail, and increasing micromanaging, by not informing and developing the board’s knowledge along with the detailed roles and responsibilities for board members.
Dick, and his partners in Kopplin, Kuebler & Wallace – Kurt Kuebler and Tom Wallace – along with their staff play a vital role in our industry. There is a talent in whom he has chosen as partners. Dick is not uncomfortable sharing his strengths and weakness, and he has made sure his partners fill in the areas that help make the company better.
Let’s not forget, the qualified general managers KK&W places at private clubs across the country and helping provide millions of private club members a great experience and purpose for the remaining years of their lives. Yes, what Dick has built benefits every member his company has helped.
Dick’s values and principles, through his vision and innovation place Dick Kopplin as one of the most influential people in the industry. I love Dick as a person and am grateful to have him as my friend.
As BoardRoom magazine celebrates its 25th anniversary, I hope this recognition of Dick will remind him of our company’s appreciation for helping make BoardRoom magazine successful by being who he is and what he has accomplished.