WIC 2018 Speakers

Technical Session
Alex Genov, Head of Customer Research, Zappos.com

Alex is an experienced customer research professional who applies his Experimental Social Psychology background and his passion for research, design, and innovation to solving important customer and business problems. His professional goal is to help teams create remarkable products and services which make people’s lives easier and more enjoyable.

Currently Alex is leading Customer Research for the Zappos Family of Companies. In previous positions, he was responsible for research and usability of the products and services for companies like TurboTax (Intuit), State Farm Insurance, and the Active Network. He has over 15 years of relevant experience – 5 years of academic research and over 10 years of customer research in the software industry. Alex received his PhD in Experimental Social Psychology from Clark University. His areas of research include: defining and measuring emotions, individual differences, usability, and consumer segmentation.

Doug Tatum, Newport Board Group
What to Do When Your Company is Too Big to Be Small, but Too Small to Be Big

Doug Tatum is Chairman of Newport Board Group, a national partnership of CEOs and senior executives who advise emerging middle market companies and assist private equity firms to invest in and grow portfolio companies.

He is also a member of the Teaching Faculty at the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship at Florida State and also Advisory Board Chairman for the Business Dynamics Research Consortium at the University of Wisconsin – Extension. Its mission is to study exceptional growth companies, the capital markets, and overall business activity to learn more about their impact on employment and economic growth. He is the Former Chairman of the Board for the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), a global not-for-profit organization with 58 Chapters and 14,000 members in the US and internationally, representing middle market private capital investors, intermediaries and the middle market deal community. In 2017 he was given ACG’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization’s Intergrowth 2017 conference in Las Vegas, recognizing his dedication to ACG and the middle market community in the U.S. and around the world.

Previously, Doug was Chairman and CEO of Tatum LLC, which grew into a highly respected national professional services firm with 30 offices and over 1000 professionals and employees. The company was sold to Spherion in 2010.

Doug is the Managing Director of TIP Seed Fund LLC, a newly formed seed stage VC fund with investments and investment rights in a diversified portfolio of companies with unique and proprietary products in the consumer, high-tech, and nutraceutical to pharmaceutical marketplaces.

Doug is the author of No Man’s Land: Where Growing Companies Fail, a leading text about growth companies that has been translated into several languages and has won four National Best Business book awards. His insights about the economy and business have been cited in hundreds of media outlets including Inc. Magazine, The Financial Times, and The New York Times online.

Rick Farrell, Tangent Knowledge
Selling Has Nothing to Do with Selling

Richard P. (Rick) Farrell is president of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a Chicago sales training company, and the author of the book; Selling Has Nothing To Do with Selling. He is the unofficial record holder for the number of B2B association speaking engagements (manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, professional services, manufacturers’ representatives, service providers). He has covered virtually every SIC code when speaking to associations and even ones that he swears don’t even exist. His in-depth knowledge of the sales challenges of small to midsize companies (commoditization, price pressure, new market opportunities, transactional selling, poor sales accountability, unqualified sales pipelines, ineffective new business generation, long selling cycles and increasing cost of sales) is unparalleled.

Thomas Landstreet, N3L Capital Partners, LLC
Economic Outlook 

As an analyst, speaker and writer, Tom shares his wit and wisdom on politics, policy, the economy and investing. Though he plumbs a complicated topic, he does so with a comedian’s skill: His presentations are funny and accessible to a broad audience.

Tom’s sessions are content rich. As publisher of “Connecting the Dots” institutional investment research for some of the world’s biggest hedge funds and mutual funds, Tom draws on a vast array of topics. And because he’s actually in the business of making predictions for investors, he often goes out on a limb for his audiences. His impressive record of predictions has made him a top contributor to Forbes.com. Government never stops making policy so there’s always something to talk about.

Tom’s career on Wall Street began as an institutional equity salesman in 1994 at the Robinson Humphrey Co., Atlanta where he rose to be the top producer. In 2003, he returned to his hometown of Nashville, TN to become Managing Director, Head of Institutional Sales for Avondale Partners. Though he managed the department, he remained the number one producer throughout his tenure. He was recognized by Institutional Investor magazine as an “All American” broker in 2002 and 2003. In 2005, Avondale was awarded the Wall Street Journal’s “Best on the Street” award for producing the singe best stock-picking record among Wall Street firms.
In 2006, Tom joined Laffer Associates, an economic research firm founded by Reagan economic advisor and father of the “Laffer Curve,” Dr. Arthur Laffer. For five years, Tom worked closely with Laffer where he produced a weekly economic commentary based on Laffer’s supply side framework. Tom credits Dr. Laffer’s supply side framework for informing many of his opinions.

In 2011, Tom realized the dream of becoming an entrepreneur, co-founding Tell-Tale Capital Corp., a money manager and Standard Research Corp. to publish Connecting the Dots research. He is an advisor to some of the biggest institutional investors in the world.

In 2016, Tom founded Trusco Investment Management, a RIA serving endowments, private foundations and entrepreneurs, and N3L Capital Management, a thematic hedge fund.

Perhaps just as important, Tom was once a standup comedian performing at “Catch a Rising Star” and other leading New York comedy clubs. While many find little to laugh at regarding the current economic situation, Tom expresses a refreshingly contrary view.

Tom majored in English at Auburn University and attended Balliol College, Oxford University. He is married with three well-behaved children and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee, one of nine states with no income tax.

Manufacturing Executives Panel
The Effect of Tax Reform on Manufacturers’ Investment in New Equipment and Technology


Larry W. Combs serves as the senior vice president and general manager of Jack Daniel’s Global Supply Chain for Brown-Forman Corporation. He began his career with Brown-Forman in 1992 as a laboratory technician. Combs has been involved in various aspects of the company’s production operations. He has served as whiskey development specialist, senior product development specialist, director of process research and development, vice president and director of quality assurance and external manufacturing operations, vice president and director of production services, and senior vice president of technical services. In the course of his career, Combs has led Brown-Forman manufacturing operations globally across 15 different countries.

Combs has worked to re-establish Brown-Forman’s co-op program, helping it become a conduit for students to get experience and preparation needed to join the workforce. He has worked with the University of Louisville on the community program Increasing Student Preparedness and Interest in the Requisites for Engineering (INSPIRE), sponsored by Brown-Forman. The program is designed for students historically underrepresented in engineering to provide an introduction to engineering and the opportunities that exist in the field.

He graduated from University of Louisville with a bachelor of science in chemical engineering in 1997, and earned his MBA from Sullivan University in 2000. He is the recipient of the 2014 Wooden Globe Award for Innovator of the year, the 2013 Brown-Forman Diversity in Action Award, and the 2012 Kentucky Manufacturing Employee of the Year.

Mike  Dillon is president of Lexington Manufacturing—a supplier of component solutions primarily for the window and door industry. Lexington is a second-generation, family-owned business that was founded in 1982. They have operations in the Minneapolis area as well as Brainerd, MN, with nearly 200 employees company-wide. The company is a market leader supplying OEMs in the residential window and patio door, commercial flush door, fiberglass entry door, and furniture markets. Lexington’s capabilities include panel and solid wood dimensioning, laminating, CNC machining, profile wrapping, and painting. Lexington prides itself on the relationships it forms with their partners—helping them to create solutions and deliver value to their customers. Mike has been with the company for 23 years, holding positions in manufacturing, materials, and sales. He has held the current position of president since 2016. As the first non-family president in company history, Mike is working to prepare the company for the next generation. Mike has a bachelor of science in Forest Products Production Management from the University of Minnesota.

Michael Fowler is the President and Managing Member of Cabinet Door Service Co., LLC, a Pacific Northwest manufacturer of hardwood components for the professional custom cabinet maker.
Cabinet Door Service was founded in 1989 by Cliff Stites and Charles Freeman. With limited capital and a dream to bring better service to the custom cabinet maker, they were the first in the Western US to deliver components to their customers. CabDoor was first to include a bag of cookies with every order – presently providing nearly 2,000 cookies a week. Want to get help unloading – a bag of fresh cookies is helpful!

Michael earned his Bachelor of Science from Willamette University and completed his MBA from the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. Prior to joining Cabinet Door Service, Michael was Vice President of Commercial Lending in the banking industry and CabDoor was a long-term client – nearly 13 years. In 2005, Michael and CabDoor were talking about growth and the future of woodworking. From that humble conversation, Michael created a path to exit banking and join CabDoor as a partner.

CabDoor has often been asked how you manage with three owners – it has been a unique opportunity where each brings their competencies; Cliff’s passion is production; Chuck’s focus is sales, and Michael’s strength is accounting, finance, and insurance. While we each have our strengths, each is respected for their perspective and diverse experience, which results in a flexible decision making process that is best described as “The CabDoor Way.”