Fireside Chat with Glenn Campbell of Lids

The Bank of Missouri[1] last week kicked off the first Fireside Chat at Codefi, with more to come. We plan to host business leaders, entrepreneurs, and technology enthusiasts to give the community a chance to interact with successful individuals.

Special guests were John Eric with 36 Restaurant/Moments Catering[2] and Glenn Campbell[3], founder of Hat World, now known as LIDS[4]. The Community Bank President at the Bank of Missouri, Aaron Panton[5], facilitated the conversation with John Eric while James Stapleton[6] facilitated the conversation with Glenn Campbell.

Why do you think you were the one who succeeded in the industry?

Glenn Campbell: …[The original LIDS] hired the best of everything. They had the CEO from Sunglass Hut[7] and the CFO from Brooks Brothers[8]. And we just had us: Scott’s [Molander][9] sister and my brother. It was kind of a family affair. We started hiring people from Foot Locker[10]. You kind of hired people you trust and you knew. They went and got people they didn’t know. …if we were in Illinois in Champagne, you would have thought we were born and raised there. If we were at Kansas State, because that was store 111, we were purple and you thought we grew up there. LIDS concept was cookie cutter: Michigan looks like Missouri looks like Ohio looks like Florida. We believed the exact opposite. And the only reason I think we were right is in 2001 they went bankrupt and we bought them. So we were right.

What have you given up over the years?

(Audio starts at 1:03)

GC: I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question. I think you give up a lot. You sacrifice if you’re going to do it from scratch, because chances are if it’s your idea very few people believe in it. They may tell you it’s a great idea, but if you ask them to put money in, they’re walking away. And if you ask them to work with you, no way are they quitting their jobs. So you’re on an island. It’s long hours. You better have a spouse that is unbelievably patient. Mine was. She’s into sports as much as I am. She’s a Purdue gal. She’s a Boilermaker. I was very fortunate that all the trips I took, she had my back. If you have kids - I love all four of my kids - you have to figure out what and where, because you can’t do everything. So you do give up some of the family stuff with your spouse and your kids. I think you pick and choose. I’ve been asked, “Would you do it again?” And I would because I try to include my wife and kids into many trips. I’ve been very blessed to be successful. My wife has seen 11 Super Bowls. I tell her even though I travel, she has been to a lot of events she wouldn’t normally go to - some of the fringe benefits. And my kids have gotten to do things that most people wouldn’t get to do. There’s no doubt about it that there are nights where you are on the road or times when you are gone for two weeks at a time and you miss dance recitals or a school play and you kind of scratch your head and ask, “Is it worth it?” You [Eric] talked about passion. If you have the passion, I absolutely believe in this. I don’t know that I would be as good of a husband or father if I didn’t pursue what I’m pursuing. So as much as you give up, it makes me better at being that.

JS: Great answer. …One of the interesting things for me and being friends with Glenn is now I get to work with his son, Kyle [Campbell][11]. Some of you may know that Kyle and Gunnar Knudtson[12] have started a ride-sharing company here [carGO Rideshare][13]. It’s about to expand into some new services here in Cape Girardeau and about to go into some other markets. I’m sure one of the joys of Glenn’s life is watching Kyle, who also got the gene. He works really hard and those guys are doing a great thing.

The next 10 or 15 years of your life, you’re going to sacrifice and do some other things. What are they?

(Audio starts at 3:38)

GC: That’s another good question. The company was purchased in 2004. Usually the founders, depending on the acquisition, are asked to stay for a little bit and help through the transition. At that time, I stayed and my partner left. I didn’t feel like I should leave. The company[14] that bought us were great people out of Nashville, Tennessee. I thought after a year or two they would say, “Campbell, we’re paying you way too much. We know it all. Get out of here.” Unfortunately, they haven’t said that yet. I say unfortunately; I still love it. I’m still working for them. I itch to be involved with startups. That’s one of the reasons why I got involved with carGO. There are so many successful people in this city. It absolutely blows me away. You probably know the big names: The Drurys[15] and the Rhodes[16] - I do a disservice because I can’t name them all. But this place it must be in the water because there are so many successful people. Just because they haven’t made millions or they don’t have 50 locations or don’t have names on a hotel doesn’t mean they’re not successful. I get here in spurts. I’ll be here for a week or two and be gone for a month. But it’s fun. There’s 20-30 businesses here[17] based on these two floors. Some of these people aren’t young. They’re middle aged. And when they take a chance and they step out there, it’s fun to answer questions and bounce ideas off of them. It is amazing that you can start something like Codefi, and these things are out there in big cities but never in a small community, and that people would gravitate towards it. This is an incubator every day. You pay consultants but there are consultants here every day if you’re willing to ask the questions. I think people are becoming more comfortable. For me the next 10 or 15 years I want to lend a hand where I can: if it means advice, getting into it financially, or sitting on a board. For me, the entrepreneur bug bit me years ago. Like you [Eric], you’re continuing to open restaurants and people around here continue to do things. That is my passion. That’s what I’ll be doing.

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Interview Notes

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