Ron Wolf Blog Series: Step #1 To Building a Winning Organization

Ron Wolf Blog Series: Step #1 To Building a Winning Organization

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Recently, Cornerstone Development had the honor of hosting a private dinner event with former Green Bay Packers General Manager Ron Wolf.  Besides being treated to a host of great inside football stories (and maybe a tall tale or two!), Mr. Wolf was kind enough to share some excellent business insights which he detailed in his book, The Packer Way: Nine Stepping Stones to Building a Winning Organization.

The following is the first in a series of blogs where we will examine these stepping stones and how they relate to building success and improving our product within Cornerstone Development.


John Wahlen — First, I’d like to say that I’m glad we decided to take a look at Ron Wolf’s Book, The Packer Way: Nine Stepping Stones to Building a Winning Organization, because I think so much of Ron Wolf and the great job he did with the Packers. It always seems wise to look at great business practices that can be applied to our firm, because we’re always trying to improve. When you see somebody who’s been extremely successful in a tough business like the NFL it’s proper to examine what happened there and to see if there are applications to our business. Of course, there usually are!

The first area that Mr. Wolf talked about dealt with the items that “need to be fixed”. For us, that applies towards municipalities where there may be a shortage of our style of housing – housing with low maintenance, or housing that helps people who want to have somebody else maintain the exterior property while they free up their time. There are many municipalities out there that don’t offer enough homes of this nature. Yet, they should.

For example, here in Sussex we are on our second neighborhood (The Villas at Maplewood Terrace which followed The Glen at Seven Stones) and we only have one home left to sell! We’ve sold more than 80 homes in Sussex and they sold quickly because there was a need.

When we analyze where we want to go we look at lots of factors for our neighborhoods and lots of the surrounding municipal offerings and try to tie to those. First and foremost we have to see if that municipality needs fixing, if they need our style of housing. Then, we examine how we would specifically fit into a certain location.

THE CORNERSTONE VISION – Working with Each Municipality

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We’ve found that the best way to begin working with each new municipality is to show where we’ve been successful in other places. Surely, Sussex took a look at what we did in Menomonee Falls. The folks in Brookfield also looked at what we did in Menomonee Falls and saw that we’re a high quality builder that builds a housing type that is not similar to what they’ve seen before and offers something that the municipality does not have. There’s not a municipality in the Milwaukee area that doesn’t look at their housing ‘stock’ and want to diversify it.

In each community there’s a place for single-family homes. There’s a place for stacked, multi-family and rentals. There’s a place for a little bit lower income and there’s a place for high income, large lots, big homes. And surely the condominium low-maintenance style living is needed. Most municipalities love that mix and most municipalities want to keep people in their community, so when they are done with their single-family home, why leave our town? Stick around! We have that next style of housing for you.


We strive to show our potential home buyers truly how they can live, how their lifestyles can be changed for the better and the best way to do that is to actually have a model or a clubhouse where they can walk into and see why they are only really giving up the hassles on the outside. You have to kind of prove it to them and the good news is that we’ve now built over 400 homes around town. The word is out and we have a model somewhere that they can walk into and that’s really where it starts. That’s the best way.


I’m pleased that we’ve done well through the years but I see greater opportunity for growth and improvement. We’ve branched from four-plex attached homes to where we now have some detached homes. We’ve modified the way our homes are laid out, and our clubhouses are always the latest and greatest. No matter what industry you’re in, what you did five years ago may or may not work. You should always be reviewing how you can get better.

That’s also part of the answer to Wolf’s first step – identifying what needs to be fixed. For example, if we can get a kitchen island in or offer it as a peninsula, that’s a great idea. The islands were not really an “in” thing years ago when we first started this and now they are a really nice, popular trend. They really work and that’s just one example of how we assess where we are at and how we can get better. An item may not be “broken” but we can make it better!