How One Company is Bridging Bis-Man
Michael Schwieters and Nathan Schlosser share a close bond, formed at an early age, and are driven by their mutual passion for building and growing businesses. They began their entrepreneurial journey by working together on lawn mowing and cleanup services.
Despite having different dreams, they recognized the synergies between their paths and supported each other’s aspirations. I sat down with Schwieters and Schlosser to discuss their respective companies, how working together has pushed them further than they once imagined, what’s next for the team, and much more.
Michael and Nathan’s Roots
Schwieters and Schlosser both knew what they wanted out of life, even if they didn’t know exactly how they would achieve it. While Schlosser wanted to build a construction company, Schwieters wanted to build and own companies in the service industry. At the time, the duo didn’t know what that would mean, what it would require of them, where it would take them, or how they would achieve it.
“We were only 17 at the time, but we were committed to the endeavor and to helping each other in the pursuit of ‘Success’ and the achievement of our goals. Having massive goals keeps us pushing each other to continue to develop and grow into individuals with the leadership, vocabulary, education, wisdom, intuition, humility, and awareness required for the attainment of the goals,” Schwieters said.
As life progressed and evolved, so did their goals and dreams. They studied business, finance, and leadership together, gaining knowledge from books, mentors, and their own experiences. They quickly had to develop support for one another’s goals and aspirations and push each other to obtain knowledge and experience on how to achieve each other’s goals.
Along the way, there have been innumerable peaks and valleys. During those trying moments, they had two choices: quit or stay committed to their goals. As they worked through the unknown, they helped educate, lead, inspire, motivate, and give each other perspective to help navigate through the challenges. Schlosser’s dream was to establish a construction company and develop projects.
“I thrive on the exhilarating process of envisioning and crafting projects and business models and taking them all the way to the stage of revenue generation and growth. My strengths lie in strategically building and shaping businesses, rather than solely maintaining and expanding them once the concepts and roadmap have been proven. I’m wired to create synergies and drive efficiency by constantly exploring new project formations,” Schlosser said.
Michael’s passions, however, lie in building and developing businesses and people within his companies and growing them to a large scale. “I’m wired to build an operation by getting talented people on the team. It’s ultimately the people that build a company; no one individual in all of history ever did anything of any significance on their own,” Schwieters said.
Schwieters continued, “We need people around us, and we need help if we’re going to really succeed in life. There are things that I’m very good and effective at, and there are things that I’m terrible at. Reversely, there are others who are incredibly talented in the areas I am not, but may not have the proclivity towards the things I do. This is the reality of the human experience and the sooner we are able to ask for help or work together, the sooner we advance in our development.”
Cityscapes Landscaping and Vantage View Decks
n 2013, Nathan started New Horizons Contracting Inc. (now Vantage View Decks), which experienced rapid growth due to early commercial project signings. The success of these early buildout projects provided capital and opportunities for expansion. However, as the company took on various projects outside of its area of expertise, profits began to erode.
“It became necessary to reevaluate our approach and make adjustments to ensure the survival of the business. We made the decision to specialize in deck construction, focusing our business knowledge, tools, and resources on that particular revenue stream,” Schlosser said.
Their first objective was to build a focused revenue stream that they were intentional with. Starting with decks built for local home builders, they honed their processes, developed a small team, and reinvested in the necessary tools and marketing efforts. As they became more efficient and gained expertise, they attracted more work directly from homeowners, which improved profit margins.
“We quickly realized what was and wasn’t working, and started adding key ingredients to keep the fire going. We still journal within our company today for improvements, as it can be incredibly impactful. Journaling is meditative and allows me to come up with serious, effective solutions. Without even knowing it, we built processes behind everything,” Schlosser said.
Throughout their respective journeys, Schwieters and Schlosser maintained a partnership, sharing their experiences and implementing successful strategies from each other’s businesses. This collaboration and support played a crucial role in their individual and collective growth, leading the two businesses to merge into one operation.
Vantage View Decks, while profitable, faced limitations in terms of its infrastructure for rapid expansion. On the other hand, CityScapes Landscaping had already developed a robust operating infrastructure but lacked the ability to fully utilize its capacity. Additionally, CityScapes needed additional income streams to support the maintenance of its existing infrastructure.
About The Businesses
While they remain individual businesses with the same operating agreements at hand, the businesses complemented each other enough to bring them together under one efficient operation.
“CityScapes designs, installs, and facilitates all aspects of landscape and outdoor living projects, while Vantage View Decks builds our decks, pergolas, and any structures that are required in a project.”
– Michael Schwieters
Where does the name Endurance Industries come from?
“Building great companies from the ground up, with limited resources (capital, knowledge, wisdom, awareness) requires a tremendous amount of will, tenacity, and endurance.”
– Nathan Schlosser & Michael Schwieters
By merging the two businesses under Endurance Industries, they aimed to capitalize on their respective strengths and bridge their gaps. The profitable nature of Vantage View Decks provided financial relief for CityScapes, while CityScapes offered the operational infrastructure for Vantage View Decks to grow the business model more efficiently and effectively
“The decision to merge Vantage View Decks with CityScapes Landscaping was driven by the realization that both businesses were actively involved in supporting each other’s growth. Michael and I realized that we were thinking too small with our goals. Through our collaborative efforts, we identified numerous similarities and recognized opportunities where synergies could be harnessed,” Schlosser said.
“Through this merger, we created a more comprehensive and integrated business entity. It allowed us to leverage the existing expertise, resources, and customer bases of both companies, resulting in improved efficiency and a broader range of services for our clients. The synergies generated from the merger enabled us to achieve accelerated growth, optimize operations, and create more opportunities for our incredible team.”
The Introduction of Nordak Sauna Co.
Having found success with CityScapes Landscaping and Vantage View Decks, due in part to their streamlined processes, Schwieters and Schlosser have taken the next steps to expand Endurance Industries with Nordak Sauna Co.
“If you look at cultures over the past 1,000 years, there have always been elements of heat or sweat therapy. As people moved west, they must have forgotten about that. In Finland, the population is roughly 5.5 million, while there are 2 million saunas in the country. They’re further north than us and deal with winter, yet they embrace it and claim to be a very happy and healthy country,” Schwieters said.
“They embrace it as cold weather and heat therapy go hand in hand, whereas when we see snowflakes, we’re not coming out for a while. Here in North Dakota, people dread winter for the incredibly challenging weather conditions. The community and people either go into hibernation or leave, which can be a great recipe for mental issues and seasonal depression. All too often, we’re caught up in technology and unable to decompress, relieve stress, and build community.”
When integrating Nordak Sauna Co. into their portfolio, Schwieters and Schlosser decided to establish it as a separate and distinct company, rather than merging it with their existing ventures such as Vantage View Decks and Cityscapes Landscaping.
The main reason behind this decision, as explained by Schlosser, was to mitigate risk for the two divisions with a proven track record of growth and profitability. While they were willing to take on the risk of the unknown with Nordak Sauna Co., they were not willing to jeopardize the current company’s growth and borrowability.
“Although we have tremendous belief and faith that Nordak Sauna Co. will be a great expansion for Endurance Industries, we must first have proof of concept and ensure growth capabilities before merging under Endurance Industries,” Schlosser said.
“Right now, Vantage View Decks and CityScapes Landscaping are on a path to great growth and we must not slow that down. Our intention is to maintain the ability to borrow funds for Vantage View Decks and CityScapes Landscaping to keep up on the current and future bottlenecks we may face, which in many cases requires capital investment.”
Schlosser acknowledges that it can be tempting to leverage the advantages and resources of their other businesses. “We need to build this division no different than the others; from the ground up. The company needs to support itself and fix the bottlenecks in the revenue being produced. Our business model or roadmap is built upon this concept and will be implemented with structure as follows.”
Nordak Sauna Co. operates with a business model consisting of three divisions, each serving a specific purpose within the company’s overall strategy. Their first division focuses on creating custom-built wellness rooms that incorporate sauna therapy, primarily catering to the local market.
“Currently, we have a smaller but highly skilled production team in place. As the demand grows, the company plans to expand its employee base and infrastructure to meet the increasing needs of customers. As this division grows, which allows for additional investment, our next move is to establish a sauna experience center for the community. The purpose of this division is to educate the community about the various health, cultural, and community benefits of heat therapy.
“Nordak Sauna Co. designs high-quality outdoor and indoor saunas that are incorporated into our landscapes and outdoor living spaces. After high-quality sauna experiences, we determined that communities in North Dakota that experience winter six months out of a year needed to be introduced to high- quality saunas. Winters in the north are tough, and we know that forms of heat therapy have been used throughout various countries and cultures for thousands of years for physical and mental health. We think that there’s probably some wisdom there that we all could benefit from!”
– Michael Schwieters
About Nordak Sauna Co.
“I’ve never been the guy with the drill or the saw doing the job at scale and creating impact. I’ve never been that person, but I have always been a visionary. I’m not a technician, but I am an entrepreneur. Even if my skill sets are few, I have the ability to get people on board and energized for an idea.”
– Michael Schwieters
“We’ve learned a tremendous amount about this industry, and we want to share that with others that are interested. Once people know and understand the benefits, they’re going to want one of these saunas incorporated into their life. Our location can book guided sessions with us to learn more about the sauna culture,” Schlosser said.
By providing an opportunity for people to experience the benefits firsthand, the company hopes to generate interest and encourage individuals to incorporate sauna therapy into their lifestyles. Additionally, the experience center serves as a platform for marketing content and introduces new products to potential customers, allowing them to try before they make a purchase.
Once the sauna experience center is successfully established and generating revenue, the company plans to invest the earnings of both divisions into expanding its custom wellness rooms and manufacturing exterior sauna units. This investment will allow the company to grow at the pace of demand with the ever-growing market of wellness and heat therapy. Simultaneously, the company intends to expand its marketing efforts on a national level. This strategic move aims to increase brand awareness and reach a broader customer base beyond the local market.
By developing a comprehensive business model that incorporates these three divisions, Nordak Sauna Co. seeks to cater to the local market, educate the community, expand manufacturing capabilities, and extend its marketing efforts nationally. This approach allows the company to grow its presence, introduce new products, and capitalize on the benefits of sauna therapy in various aspects of individuals’ lives.
“Our intention is to get customers to socialize in their backyards with friends and family, as we know that those relationships are very important to the community’s health and well-being, and are largely built through outdoor experiences. We have something that allows people to have intentionality in their life again. This gives them a slice of community and something to do outdoors,” Schwieters said.
With multiple ongoing business ventures in need of being tended to and improved upon over time, Schwieters and Schlosser are determined to continue finding people who are as passionate about the industry as they are. Over the last two years, especially, the two have attracted bright minds and key individuals to push their vision forward.
“We’re building a team around this, as people are going to be what aids us in this endeavor. We’ve developed all of our businesses with synergy between one another in mind. That’s how we build our connections and networks. With synergy, everybody wins. It’s much more enjoyable and rewarding when you can design and implement ideas and strategies that give back to one another,” Schwieters said.
“There are many companies out there that provide decks or landscaping, but they aren’t doing what we’re doing with a win-win philosophy. Everything that we do within these companies is about everybody needing to win, including the employees. Cash flow is critical when your team’s individuals rely on the operation as their financial livelihood. The decisions that we make daily, weekly, monthly, and annually have a substantial impact on the individuals currently both a part of and not a part of the company.”
When incorporating Nordak Sauna Co. into their portfolio, the duo made the decision to make their sauna branch a unique company, rather than adding another arm to one of their other ventures, such as CityScapes Landscaping. The reason for doing so, according to Schlosser, was to avoid risk.
“We were willing to risk the profits from Vantage View Decks and CityScapes but weren’t willing to risk the companies themselves. We wanted to keep [Nordak Sauna Co.] outside of the current business operations that build capital. Our thought was to operate knowing that we wouldn’t affect our borrowability of Vantage View Decks or CityScapes Landscaping,” Schlosser said.
“It can be scary because you want to be attached to those other businesses to the point of using the advantages that those two businesses have built. The infrastructure is similar, as we have a lot of the same people involved. That was when we felt comfortable taking on debt to help leverage our growth. It would have been incredibly risky, but we’ve built a great infrastructure, hiring process, and team. Our risk for borrowing capital goes down significantly because of our proven track record.”
As Schwieters and Schlosser break new ground with Endurance Industries, their eyes remain locked on the prize ahead of them. Currently, each division has specific, unique characteristics. However, they’re in the midst of creating a unifying bond between the companies with a singular streamlined process among employees.
With crews able to be moved around throughout the year to make the most of a seasonal industry like landscaping, Nordak Sauna Co. looks to give them the release needed regarding seasonal work. By 2025, Nordak Sauna Co. expects to be manufacturing custom exterior saunas and shipping them nationwide.
“We’re going to be building our manufacturing and aiding the growth of all three divisions, with revenue being our key driving force. Nordak Sauna Co. can have a profound impact on those invested in it, and it’s going to allow us to have a larger presence. It’s our roadmap to get into the national market, which is what we’re really driving for,” Schwieters said.
“Within the next five years, we plan to be doing 90% of our operations and product distribution outside of the state of North Dakota. North Dakota is still going to be very much involved in and purchasing products from us, but our state is only so big. To succeed in what we want to accomplish, we know that we’re going to have to deliver a national-scale product to spur growth across other communities.”
Then Tips for Success with Michael and Nathan
1: Work to learn.
“Focus on learning and skill development through repetition and innovate your process to become more efficient. You always want to acquire knowledge and expertise in your field to stay ahead.”
2: Find a niche in the market and become the best at it.
“Identify a specialized area where you can excel and establish yourself as an expert. Differentiate yourself from the competition by having the best product, team, and customer service.”
3: Understand where you want to go and develop a plan to get there.
“Set clear goals and create a roadmap to achieve them. Having a strategic plan and writing out your goals every day provides direction and helps you stay focused. I certainly like to place time frames on my goals but more important than time is making sure you obtain your goals.”
4: Fix problems with urgency.
“Prioritize and address issues promptly, especially as your resources increase. Invest time, effort, and funds into resolving challenges that hinder your progress.”
5: Keep a journal.
“Get clear on who you are and what you dream of being, doing, and having in your material world, then work every day to be it. Maintain a journal to document daily or weekly problems you encounter. This habit allows you to brainstorm solutions and implement them, fostering efficiency and growth.”
6: Build a network with professionals in positions you aspire to be in.
“Surround yourself with individuals who have achieved success in your desired field. Networking can provide guidance, mentorship, and valuable connections.”
7: Focus on building a process and developing your team.
“Streamline your operations by establishing efficient processes. Develop a bonus system that aligns the company’s goals with the goals of the team. Educate your team on ways to grow within your company and for them to hit their personal and professional goals.”
8: Hire a good accountant with tax expertise.
“Ensure you have a knowledgeable accountant who can guide you through tax-related matters. Their expertise can help optimize your financial situation.”
9: Compete against your customers and seek constructive criticism.
“Use customer feedback to improve your product or service. Actively encourage customers to provide constructive criticism, as it serves as valuable input for enhancing your offerings. It’s important to compete against yourself; there’s always room for the best.”
10: Show up every day and stay consistent.
“Consistency is key to achieving long-term success. Make a commitment to show up and put in the effort consistently, even on days when motivation is low. By showing up every day and consistently working towards your goals, you build momentum and increase the likelihood of accomplishing them. The truth is you can; you just don’t know how.
Seven Book Recommendations with Michael and Nathan
“We’re super proud of what we built. When we first started, we were very much broke. All we had was our vision, which hasn’t changed from 15 years ago. It’s amazing how far you can go when building that synergy with someone super important in the beginning. You’re able to make it through the challenges of life easier and learn a lot of life lessons along the way,” Schlosser said.
“When it comes to building great companies, we need to earn a lot of money to bring great people into the operation to do what they’re highly skilled at. Doing that across multiple sectors within industries is not easy, but it’s extremely worth it. This isn’t about the money; it’s about the impact we’re creating on people!”
Contact Vantage View Decks
Contact CityScapes Landscaping
Contact Nordak Sauna Co.
Phone: (701) 471-5096