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A fulfilling job that helps fulfill others

Journey Consulting celebrates 15 years of helping businesses succeed

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October 5, 2022

GREEN BAY – It’s not uncommon in today’s world to hear talk of life mentors, writing coaches and fitness trainers.

For those that know Jayne McQuillan, owner of Journey Consulting, it could be said she was destined to work alongside businesses to help them grow and become more successful.

McQuillan has served in a mentor capacity for more than a decade, and much like the name of her business, which is celebrating its 15th year, it’s been a long journey.
How it started
McQuillan said her journey into the realm of business ownership started with a career in public accounting at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Milwaukee where she worked in its small business segments.

The Neenah native said she was “really fortunate” to work with PwC and gain exposure working with privately held and family-owned businesses.

Eventually, PwC’s reach extended to Titletown, and with it so did McQuillan – an area she has now called home for the past 30 years.

After her time with PwC ended, she worked for 10 years in a privately held, partially-ESOP (employee stock ownership)-owned company.

“(I) weaved my way up to the executive vice president when I left there,” she said.

McQuillan said an attempt to purchase that business before she left didn’t quite work out, but the idea of one day owning her own business stuck with her.

From there, she went on to work for a 100-year-old family-owned business for about four years to help them “position the business for the long-term.”

During that time, McQuillan said she also worked in organization development consulting for The Utech Group in De Pere.

“I was fortunate enough to continue doing what I was doing for the family-owned business as well as do that,” she said. “Through that experience, (I) learned that I loved the business side of things, and I love the people, but I didn’t like just being siloed in one or the other.”

It was during that time that McQuillan said the idea of owning her own business went from an idea to reality.
Turning herself into a company
McQuillan said for her, the “turning point” from business employee to business owner happened when she assisted a company through the dynamics of a split-family business relationship.

“It was one of those (situations where) I pulled out every tool in my toolbox to help them, and I brought in other resources to do that,” she said. “(What) I realized through that whole process about myself (is) that I am not a maintainer.”

McQuillan said at that point, “I just knew that I wanted to do something for myself.”

She described the transition – from her position in public accounting to organization development consulting – as a “perfect storm.”

Jayne McQuillan is the brain behind Journey Consulting. As the company celebrates 15 years in business, McQuillan said she is grateful to have helped more than 125 businesses so far. Chris Rugowski Photo

McQuillan said business for Journey Consulting started strong in October 2007 leading into 2008 – that was until the recession hit later that year.

She said business slowed down, which left her with some extra time on her hands.

“I said, ‘I’m not one to sit around. I need to be doing something,’” she said. “I decided then to go back to school. I got my master’s (degree) in business administration management while I was still doing consulting. I knew deep down this is what I wanted to do, and I was going to make it work at all costs.”

As the world climbed out of the 2008 recession, McQuillan said business picked up again.

She said the company’s consulting clients vary – from manufacturing, construction and service to distribution and logistics – with the average business relationship lasting about two-and-a-half years.
A meaningful name
When deciding on a name, McQuillan said she knew Journey Consulting was a perfect fit for what she hoped to accomplish with the business.

The name, she said, comes from an exercise she used to do with clients when she was in organizational development consulting, called a journey line.

“What you do is map out the highs and lows from early on in your life to present… and how those items have impacted you in both,” she said. “When I sat down to think about what I wanted this business to be, to me, it was one of those exactly – it’s a journey. There’s not an end game… It took me 40 years to figure out I love change, I love to drive and accelerate growth, I’m not a maintainer and I need to feel I’m doing something of value. Journey Consulting means what I’m about. It aligns with what we do.”
A business meant for helping businesses
When Journey Consulting first started, McQuillan said most of her work revolved around strategic public work, as well as chief financial officer (CFO), work for organizations.

“We had learned that CFO services, they’re hard to predict,” she said. “They’re hard to plan for because somebody may need them for a short period because they lost a resource, and then suddenly, they hire somebody, and you were working three or four days a week and then you’re not needed. And it was hard to plan and backfill that.”

McQuillan said additional staff members were added to Journey Consulting in 2017 to take over the CFO work, and eventually, strategic planning became one of the business’ core services.

She said the company also started to focus more on exit and transition planning for businesses, eventually becoming a certified exit planning advisor.

“Statistically speaking, about 70% of businesses never transition, which means they probably go out of business, or the person retired,” she said. “We help businesses get their businesses ready to transition and make them saleable, so that not only do they have a plan, but they can execute on that plan – obviously for a financial exit for them – but also for the longevity of that business to provide jobs for employees to continue to support the community in which it resides.”

McQuillan said if there are questions clients have that can’t be answered, Journey Consulting still works to help find a solution.

“We have become that trusted advisor and confidante, but also that resource because even though we focus a lot on the strategy and exit and transition planning, there are a lot of things that come up we’re not the expert on,” she said. “We know where we play in terms of where we can add value, and where we need to connect (clients) with resources that are a better fit.”
Celebrating 15 years
As McQuillan reflects on the company’s 15th anniversary, she said what it’s been able to accomplish is “unbelievable.”

“What I started 15 years ago, was a need within the business community to provide a service to business owners in that small-to-mid-size range to help them accelerate their businesses,” she said. “I think one of the biggest values we’ve brought our clients over the years is… we’re willing to have tough conversations with (them). We tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

With a decade-and-a-half of experience running a business under the belt, McQuillan said she has no plans of stopping any time soon.

“My husband has always said to me, ‘I don’t know what retirement looks like (for you),’” she said. “He’s right to some level. I love the people I work with. I consider myself fortunate and blessed because I truly love what I do. I don’t consider it a job. But most importantly for me is I’ve invested in (clients’) success – whatever it takes to get them where they need to go.”

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