Enterprise Minnesota’s Jim Schottmuller truly identifies as a “people person,” using his talents to connect with clients on a personal level. Through his role as a business developer, Schottmuller embraces challenges both in his personal and professional life.
Born and raised in Roseville and Stillwater, Minn., Schottmuller learned early in life the value of hard work, craftsmanship, and problem solving. He first worked in the family furniture restoration business at age 13, which gave him the skills to eventually take on renovation projects of his own, including being the general contractor in the construction of his own home in Forest Lake. That experience nurtured his mechanical-minded curiosity that helps him assist his clients with tackling a variety of challenges. “Ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed taking things apart, or fixing broken things my friends gave me and figuring out how they work. The mechanic in me loves the ‘how’ and ‘why.’”
Schottmuller’s passion for sales and development made him a good fit as Enterprise Minnesota’s relationship manager, his first role at the company. After leaving to take on a director role at a local manufacturer he later returned to Enterprise Minnesota as a full-time business developer. “I very reluctantly left my Enterprise Minnesota job, having fallen in love with the people, the experience, and the day-to-day interactions. When I decided to leave the other company, I reached out to the friends I still had at Enterprise Minnesota, and it just so happened an immediate opportunity was available. It was almost too good to be true. I was rehired within a week.”
The position turned out be a natural fit, and in 2020 Schottmuller’s colleagues voted to give him the company’s Esteemed Colleague award, an accolade that recognizes the person who year-over-year stands out as representing the best of Enterprise Minnesota and achieves outstanding results for clients and stakeholders. His colleagues credit his success with three attributes.
First, he is happiest when face-to-face with clients. He credits Enterprise Minnesota’s Bob Kill for teaching him the value of personal attention. “Bob tells us all that this job isn’t for a ‘transactional’ person, someone who’s in it just for the next sale. I always strive to be a trusted advisor, not a paid consultant.”
Accordingly, Schottmuller uses a “listen first” approach with his manufacturers, the second factor of his success. The initial step to solving problems, he says, is listening to how clients describe them. “I want to be their first call for help. If I can’t propose a way for Enterprise Minnesota to fix a problem, then I’ll find someone outside our organization who might be able to help them.”
Finally, his coworkers credit the way he views challenges as opportunities, not roadblocks. “Every company has a unique way of doing things — even within industries. It requires a higher level of engagement that I find exciting. One thing I missed during my time away from Enterprise Minnesota was having boots on the ground and touring different facilities.” He especially enjoys how he has helped revive the Enterprise Minnesota Peer Council in his territory of northeast Minnesota. With all his clients, Schottmuller serves as a facilitator. He sees the challenges they face, such as labor shortages and supply chain issues, and offers problem-solving solutions. “But the real satisfaction comes from seeing them take ownership and guide their own path,” he says.
When Schottmuller isn’t on the road, he spends time with his wife of 21 years, Angie, who herself is a business consultant and Army veteran, and their long-haired German Shepherd Saba. He also enjoys challenging his nephew to tennis matches since retiring his hockey skates (he played college hockey at Bethel University). And Schottmuller continues to be in awe of his mother, Gena, who still volunteers at age 85. His father Jerry, who passed away in 2001, taught Schottmuller much of his problem-solving skills and how to have a can-do attitude, pay attention to detail, and develop an appreciation of craftsmanship. A former Army drill instructor, Jerry instilled in his son drive, a high standard of ethics, and the value of quality in everything he does — attributes that Schottmuller contributes to much of his success today.
Featured story in the Spring 2022 issue of Enterprise Minnesota magazine.