A New Career
Former telecom exec Rick Buyens bought a thriving company where he could apply his longtime interest in woodworking
By Lynn Shelton
Enterprise Minnesota's Vice President of Marketing
(Lynn Shelton, vice president of marketing, Enterprise Minnesota)
Just about a year ago, Rick Buyens optimistically stepped into what he thought would be his care-free retirement years. He achieved a successful lifetime career as a corporate telecom executive, most recently a seven-year stint as vice president of global accounts at CenturyLink, where he managed a billion-dollar portfolio. His financial advisor told him his retirement savings would guarantee “three hots and a cot” for the rest of his life. And when CenturyLink offered a retirement buyout, he leaped at it.
“January was a wonderful month,” he recalls. “I'd get up every day and decide what I felt like doing. I got in great shape; I was going to the gym five times a week. I was thinking, ‘This is great.’”
Then came February. “I started getting bored,” Buyens admits. And by March, with his wife Jenny still commuting to her job every day, “I got really bored.” He started looking around for a volunteer project or the opportunity to buy and run a little company. While he was open to different options, Buyens knew they wouldn’t include a return to Corporate America. His suits and ties would stay in his closet, his days would not include a deluge of conference calls, and his workweek would not involve killing time waiting for airplane departures in the Delta Lounge at MSP (while at CenturyLink he traveled 45 weeks each year, attending to his 13-state region at CenturyLink).
Buyens’ business broker eventually introduced him to Distinctive Door Designs, a Princeton-based manufacturer of high-end custom cabinet doors and drawer boxes. Due diligence disclosed DDD was a flourishing, profitable company with a loyal customer base that valued its high-quality products and commitment to customer service. We describe his transition out of retirement and into the world of manufacturing entrepreneurs in the newest issue of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine.
A company of about $3 million in annual revenues, DDD’s price tag was just right for Buyens. “It wasn't too big and it wasn't too small,” he said. “I wanted to take on an acceptable level of risk.”
But the real bonus was that Buyens had been a passionate woodworking hobbyist since his father introduced him to it in their home workshop. Buyens says he fashioned a workshop in each of the seven homes he has owned, where, with the help of the internet, he crafts desks, end tables and bookshelves.
Buyens purchased the company and relocated from Edina to Maple Grove, where he and his wife would have equal commute times.
Buyens quickly acclimated to his new post-retirement lifestyle as an entrepreneur. After having been with DDD short of a year, Buyens already describes the company’s capabilities with the fervor of a camp meeting convert. Distinctive Door Designs, he said, stocks 32 different wood species and will 25 different door styles. Beyond that, his staff of experienced cabinetmakers produces 15 different door edges, 15 panel profiles, and six inside profiles. “You end up with a countless number of doors,” he said.
He exudes pride at DDD’s commitment to a one-week turnaround. “If a cabinetmaker calls us and says, ‘I need 70 doors, 50 door fronts, and 25 drawer boxes for a big kitchen,’ our trucks will deliver them in five working days,” he said. “If you call us Wednesday, you're going to get your doors and drawer boxes by next Wednesday.”
Empowering Your Continuous Improvement
**Exclusive to Manufacturers**
Thursday, March 7, 2019
9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Country Inn & Suites Hotel & Conference Center
1900 Premier Drive
Mankato, MN 56001
What to Expect
You may have integrated lean practices throughout your business, but are you empowering employees to see waste and eliminate it?
Greg Langfield, Enterprise Minnesota continuous improvement expert, will show you how to engage employees in eliminating waste, producing higher quality/volume products in less time, while maximizing productivity.
You will gain:
- Increased employee skills and behaviors that align with company values;
- Increased focus on value-added activities;
- Improved productivity company-wide; and
- Strengthened continuous improvement efforts.
This event is exclusive to manufacturers and is free of charge. Registration is required.
To register please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.