My Incredible: Mark Matthiae

It’s Crystal Clear To Mark Matthiae

President & Founder – Crystal Finishing Systems

Marathon City is a small town in central Wisconsin, population 1,524. It’s home to 430 households, a large number of family farms, and boasts a huge growth spurt increasing its population by 50% since the time Mark Matthiae was raised there. The town’s name is more than appropriate as the residents run hard and run strong.

Just like Mark Matthiae.

Mark is the President and Founder of Crystal Finishing Systems an enormously successful company with hundreds of employees, revenue greater than $180 million, and locations in Weston, Mosinee and River Falls, Wisconsin. He is, by definition, the very embodiment of success, until you get to know him, speak with him, and look him in the eye. That’s when you realize that success comes in many forms; self-made, well-grounded, respected, down-to-earth to name a few.

And humble. Just like Mark Matthiae.

Like many others in Marathon City, Mark was raised on a dairy farm where the work was hard, the challenges, at times, overwhelming, and the rewards invaluable because the life lessons of farming provided unimaginable insights in business success even if it didn’t seem so at an early age.

“Never give up was always a key for us”, said Matthiae. “If our family or the farm had a tragedy, illness or poor crops, we just came together, worked harder and figured it out. Failure was not an option, ever. Each spring was a new year that held promise for a better crop. If our neighbors needed help, we did our best to help them whenever we could. And we learned, often times the hard way, that you never do business with someone you didn’t trust.”

And that holds true today with Matthiae. All along the way, it’s clear, even crystal clear to Matthiae, that the experience on the farm wasn’t that much different than what’s occurring today in business. “Work with those you trust, stay loyal to your team members, suppliers, financial partners, and, of course, your customers,” said Matthiae. It’s obvious he takes loyalty and trust seriously. When asked how long his relationship has lasted with IncredibleBank he wasn’t quite sure, “Perhaps 40 years or so”, he said while scratching his chin trying to remember the exact date, but to no avail.

“I’ll tell you this much,” Matthiae said, “During any business cycle from start-up to swings in the economy, IncredibleBank has been steady in the financial support they have provided our company. That’s a huge asset to us.”

Mark Matthiae started his business as an auto body shop with one of his customers being JI Case, a company nearby that needed assistance with industrial painting and repairs. And then suddenly, just like farming, the challenges surfaced. JI Case shut down.

Case closed.

Never give up and failure was not an option reverberated and Matthiae, already known for quality, trustworthy work, started hearing from JI Case workers who had moved to other companies. When they needed help, particularly with painting and coatings, they knew immediately who to turn to.

Now, Matthiae forecasts annual 10% growth each year for Crystal Finishing over the course of the next five years. Although his business philosophies are unlikely to change, his approach might, as the company will focus on more contract manufacturing moving forward, but the centerpiece of the business will always be aluminum extrusion, fabrication, and architectural and industrial finishes.

And what about that business philosophy? “Don’t be afraid to admit that a plan isn’t working, and by all means change that plan to adapt to either current market conditions, or changes in customer trends and needs as quickly as possible.”

And he adds, without hesitation, “Never, ever forget to thank your spouse for their support and dedication.”

And isn’t that just like Mark Matthiae.