Jim Beré was an entrepreneur before launching start-up Alta Resources, which is a customer management business process outsourcer based in Neenah. First a product manager at Kimberly-Clark, Jim took a risk by walking away from the comfort of his secure job to make his own mark. His success or failure would be just that: his own. If it didn’t work out, he’d learn a lot and move on. There’s a name for that concept; entrepreneurs today call it “fail fast.”
Jim’s first venture, Ameritel Corporation, began in 1982 and was so successful that it was acquired in 1990. Five years later, he was back at it, cofounding what is now Alta Resources. At that time, Jim’s second start-up was one of few of its kind occupying the outsourcing-market space, putting Jim and his team at the cutting edge of what has become a megatrend. Keeping that trend at their backs as competition began to fill the space required them to stay innovative. Fast forward 19 years.
What once took the form of product and service innovation has grown to incorporate process innovation, as Alta Resources moved from start-up to the preferred partner of Fortune 500 and 100 clients. Now innovation incorporates identifying how to culturally create an environment for continuous improvement, such as becoming a Six Sigma Green Belt organization, and knowing and living your organization’s Guiding Principles.
One of those Guiding Principles that Jim is especially passionate about is Community. The entire Alta Resources team gives back and makes a difference, particularly by embracing United Way, and Jim is proud to see Alta Resources as one of the Fox Cities’ top contributors annually. Jim is on the Leadership Giving Committee for United Way Fox Cities. Also, for many years, he was involved with World Vision, having served on World Vision International’s board of directors and having been chairman of the board of directors for World Vision U.S.; World Vision is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization dedicated to providing community-based relief and development programs globally.
So, what does success look like to an original entrepreneur? Jim adds, “There’s a fine line between success and failure.” Ultimately, he says, “Success is getting someone to believe in and find value in what you are selling. In the beginning, you only get one chance, and we delivered client results in a way that enabled us to succeed.” “I’m also really proud of the jobs we’ve created,” Jim reflects. Alta Resources is now home to a budding campus, which also serves as the company’s headquarters and houses its support departments, in downtown Neenah and is one of the area’s premier employers (nearly 3,300 people companywide at the end of 2013, with more than 1,600 based locally).
One of Jim’s resounding messages is, “Powerful things happen with teams.” He explains, “While I am receiving this award, ‘I’ didn’t build Alta Resources. ‘We’ built Alta Resources together.”
Jim has returned to his roots of entrepreneurship with his involvement in a new venture, the Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), a partnership with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Business and the Small Business Development Center. The mission of the CEI, which just received the 2014 “Emerging Center Award” from the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers, is to inspire, educate and develop entrepreneurial leaders through world-class education; cutting-edge research; and applied preparation, mentorship and public recognition. Beyond the financial contribution, Alta Resources will provide mentorship and networking opportunities for UWO students. A goal of the partnership is to help break down barriers to success that young entrepreneurs often face due to lack of support from an established network. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Jim is able to offer expertise, resources and connections to students ready to launch and develop their business ideas, which, in his words “is very exciting.”
Join us in celebrating with him at the Event: Celebrating Business on Nov. 5. Click here to reserve your tickets.