Solaris - Success Stories from SCORE of SE Wisconsin's Free Business Consulting


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SCORE is a volunteer organization that provides business training, free business consultations and mentorship from executives in your industry.

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Solaris - Success Stories from SCORE of SE Wisconsin's Free Business Consulting

  1. 1. SCORE Mentors Fill “Experience Gap” for Solaris President In 2006 when Solaris President Kyle Weatherly reached out to SCORE, the company, which designs, manufactures and markets products for lymphedema patients, had 7 employees and about $700,000 in annual sales. Kyle was 28 years old, had a new Master of Public Administration degree but no office experience and was new to the company founded by his mother in 2001. Solaris has come a long way since then. Named SBA 2012 Wisconsin Small Business of the Year 1st Runner-Up, Solaris now has 14 international distributors, employs 53 full time staffers and expects sales this year to top $6.5 million. Kyle was part of the Wisconsin delegation that recently accompanied Governor Scott Walker on a visit to China. Kyle and SCORE Mentor Bob Dude have been getting together every month or two since that first meeting. Kyle refers to Bob as his “Super Mentor” and explains Bob’s role as faithfully delivering a “respected outsiders’ point of view. He says, “When I came to Solaris I had an ‘experience gap’ and Bob has helped me fill it. His totally unbiased perspective and his lack of day-to-day involvement in this business really helps me to step back from the minutiae.” SCORE Mentor Frank Siebrecht teamed with Bob to provide Kyle with marketing and sales advice. “We have gone down roads because of these two that we wouldn’t have otherwise,” says Kyle, who describes himself as “risk averse, cautious – not typically entrepreneurial.” About Kyle, Bob Dude says, “He has many of the skills and values of most successful entrepreneurs – intelligence, ambition and the motivation to take a calculated risk for success.” Solaris products are developed and designed in-house. The company offers ready-made and custom compression garments for day and night use by cancer patients affected with abnormal accumulation of lymph fluid. Solaris sales representatives work with medical providers, therapists and directly with patients to resolve these issues. Manufacturing of custom garments takes place in the Solaris West Allis location, alongside logistics, customer service and sales. Everything is under one roof which means that Kyle can occasionally be found helping to install new equipment. At Solaris, says Kyle, “Culture matters.” As a policy no one at Solaris is paid under $11/hr; it is their “minimum wage” - many entry level folks start above that. All employees receive full health benefits and company matching 401(k) and many have been promoted into other positions. The Solaris team focuses on delivering top notch customer service and framed customer testimonials are posted as evidence of “Why We At Solaris, “Culture matters”. Kyle Weatherly, President Solaris
  2. 2. Work.” Bob explained, “Kyle and his employees value their customers. Most of them are coping with cancer so Solaris conducts periodic lymphedema treatment courses for the staff to help them better understand the people their products help.” With a great product, a happy team and sound mentoring, the future looks very bright at this Milwaukee company. SOLARIS 6737 West Washington St. Suite 3260 West Allis, WI 53214 T: (855) 892-4140 F: (414) 892-4150 E: Left - manufacturing in West Allis. Right a completed garment for the arm