Sometimes you realize that if you want to make your dreams come true, it’s now or never. In 2004, in collaboration with Jon Voss and Tami Churchill, Kurt Voss started on a new venture. Kurt had always dreamed of owning his own business, and he decided it was time.

The company began with three people, and a dearth of working capital for growth and navigating the challenges of adding people. Kurt said that really throughout the growth of the last 20 years, people have been the main challenge, and challenges are what business is all about. Yet, the company now has 230 employees, and Kurt (Jon and Tami have since retired) is proud of the team they have assembled. 

So if people are a challenge…how did they grow?

Amerilux believes it comes down to culture. They have a “How We Succeed Together” document that lays it all out. Their “mandates” include:

Make a Play! The company culture says that team members are predisposed to take reasonable action, knowing that they will make mistakes along the way, but preferring that to allowing outside influences to determine their path.

Don’t Confuse Activity with Results. Activity is judged based on the meaningful results it produces.

Conflict is a Good Thing! Conflict is communication and often as team members discuss what the “right thing” is to do and the “right way” to do it, new ideas are born.

We Don’t Drink Our Own Kool-Aid. This means that successes are handled with humility. False paradigms are avoided so that new ideas and information are not shut out.

Don’t Judge People on Their Worst Moments! “In the pursuit of excellence, we never lose our human compassion. We look for the overall pattern of good in people, and encourage people to succeed by playing to their natural strengths.”

Other important concepts play their part in this intentional culture, but above all, the team is committed to a Win/Win framework, believing that “Every sustainable relationship, personal and professional, must be based on win-win for all parties. We invest in creating wins for all stakeholders in AmeriLux: employees, investors, customers, vendors, and the community.” That seems like a pretty strong playbook.

Not only does such a positive culture create a better environment for everyone, it makes it easy for employees to know what is expected of them in their actions and communications, allowing them to focus on other things. It also helps the company develop a reputation that is attractive to people looking for an opportunity. 

How Does This Work?

Naturally, it is easy to make up guidelines and hope it makes things better, but Voss says, it doesn’t work that way. These statements are part of every interview with employees, whether it’s a job interview or a performance review, and it is incorporated into meetings and used to ensure that the team remains true to their values. 

The other piece of how this works is that the culture not only attracts people who want to work at winning, it nurtures that kind of drive. Voss said, “When you have a big team all chasing potential, you need to offer a bigger track for them to run on.” Growth becomes an inherent part of work.

What Does Amerilux Do?

With the kind of cultural commitment the company exhibits, it’s almost unimportant what product or service they produce. Voss said that if they made potato chips, they would be successfully making some of the best potato chips out there. 

However, Amerilux’s customers are glad that they distribute plastic sheeting including polycarbonate and PVC in various profiles, plus acrylic, HDPE, and related accessories. They serve all markets in the construction industry as well as some manufacturers. 

Amerilux is also a manufacturer of window wells and Shape Products, thermal forming and compression molding. The company is adding a new product to their lineup: DuxxBak, composite decking. 

They consider themselves a value-added supplier; they talk to the customer to see what they need, doing some pieces of the prep work, fabrication, and assembly for customers where they can. As per their cultural directive, they are always striving for the win/win. From their headquarters in DePere, Wisconsin, the team ships  supplies across America and Canada.

Where Should a Company Start?

Voss’s advice to people starting out in the industry, or any industry: “Find the value proposition that resonates in your market. Make sure you have working capital to fund your big ideas, to nurture them, and to get to the finish line. Finally, remember, you are in the people business… you’re ALWAYS in the people business,” he added.