Founder and CEO of Business Networks
Les Cunningham, CGC, CR, CCR, CGRa is the founder of Business Networks, based in Eugene, Oregon. Business Networks is a unique program that provides intensive business training for contractors and other small business owners through group workshops.
Les worked as a school teacher out of college in 1966. Then he joined the United States Air Force, serving as a pilot in North America and Southeast Asia. After serving his tour duty in the service, he went to work as an airline pilot in January 1971. Within two months, he began looking for something to fill his spare time.
In July 1971, he entered the Industry by starting a small remodeling company. By 1976, the company was the largest remodeler in the area, employing approximately 35 people. In 1978, the company entered the CotY Awards competition and won Commercial Contractor of the Year. They went on to win 14 more CotY Awards totaling 15 over the next seven years! As a result, he was able to start a local NARI Chapter, serving as its first president. At the same time, Les became involved at the national level of NARI and started working on the education committee. He was involved in developing the CR program and the Convention Seminar Programs.
In 1980, Les, in conjunction with Dave Sauer of Qualified Remodeler, pioneered the idea of getting together with other non-competing remodelers from the United States. Les was the first host of the group, which began with Les' company and five others. He was appointed the group leader, and his current role as a facilitator evolved out of that responsibility. The criteria for each participating company was that they do more than $1,000,000 per year in remodeling. The group grew to 13 companies with volumes ranging from $1,000,000 to $35,000,000. In February of 1987, because of vast divergence, they agreed to stop meeting as a group.
As a result of the tremendous success of the process and the group, Les started Business Networks, working full-time as a facilitator. According to Les, the rewards of being a facilitator have been incredible, "It's like being back in the classroom teaching again, but this time with highly motivated people who want to learn." The results have been dramatic in the areas of business and personal growth.
During the '90s, Business Networks grew to have more than 195 clients with Networks in place for Remodelers (large and small), Insurance/Fire Restoration, Homebuilders, Kitchen and Bath, Millworkers/Cabinet Manufacturers and Contents & Cleaning specialists.
In the process of facilitating Business Networks meetings, Les gets the opportunity to see many companies at a pointblank level. He sees their financial statements, marketing statements and their organization. Throughout this process, he has been afforded the opportunity to be involved with some of the best minds in the Industry.