We The People/Wisconsin: Economy — Profile of Bret Gundlach, small business owner, Madison

By Brian Clark
For WisBusiness.com

Bret Gundlach is a 44-year-old father of two who lives on Madison’s east side. He runs a small consulting company with five employees called TransformPOS, Inc. that has helped restaurants, clubs, bars and other hospitality businesses with point-of-sale and other high-tech solutions.

He says his company is doing well, though profits in 2011 were down a bit from 2010. This year looks strong, however, with sales during the first quarter up more than 15 percent over last year, notes Gundlach, who earns around $60,000 annually.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first installment of WisBusiness.com’s part of the We the People/Wisconsin 2012 economy project. Members of the statewide media coalition will follow Gundlach and Wisconsin families throughout the year telling their stories and their views on the state and national economy.

The project involves Wisconsin media outlets based in Appleton, Chippewa Falls, Green Bay, La Crosse and Madison.

Now in its 20th year, We the People/Wisconsin provides a unique voice for citizens all across Wisconsin. WTP’s mission is to broaden residents’ participation in public life through citizen-based reporting, town meetings, candidate and issue forums. Since it began in 1992, WTP has sponsored more than 100 live televised forums, candidate debates, statewide conferences and town hall meetings.

He received his degree from UW-Madison in engineering mechanics and then worked in IT sales. He started his own company eight years ago because he thought customer service to small firms was lacking.

“That didn’t make any sense to me,” he said in early March. “I figured I could do a better job than what I was seeing.

“I’m a small business working with other small businesses, and I see a lot of value in that. I’m working directly with someone whose livelihood depends on what I do. We’re partnering with them so they can be more successful.”

Gundlach’s kids, ages 12 and 14, live with their mother in Grafton, which means he doesn’t see them as often as he’d like. His current spouse is now re-establishing her massage therapy business after taking several years off to help Gundlach run TransformPOS.

A fiscally conservative and socially moderate Republican, Gundlach is a strong backer of Gov. Scott Walker.

“We’re very supportive of the governor,” he says. “The moves he made had to be done. Some people are going through some pain and I have a lot of friends who are not happy with him. But at some point we had to stop the bleeding.”

He supports limited government.

“I see rampant spending everywhere in government and I would like to see that cut down,” he says.

“I think the role of government should be providing police officers, an army, street lights and roads, not all of the other things we have added on to it. I’d like to see less public spending, and letting us have more of our money to spend on things we want.”

If Walker is recalled, Gundlach says he would “hunker down” rather than move his business to another state.

“We’ve looked at that,” he says. “But more than anything, we’d relocate more for the weather. I think business climate is OK in Wisconsin. Hopefully, if we continue the way we are going, it will continue to get better.”

Gundlach says having his kids in another town 100 miles away is hard on him.

His children are in public schools and doing well, but he doesn’t get to as many of their events as he would like.

“The distance is tough,” he lamented. “I don’t have the greatest relationship with my ex, so I often don’t hear about things. I work a ton, but I could probably make more time because i have flexibility if I knew of things in advance.”

Wedding picture featuring Bret, Kaycee (wife), Quinn (son, age 14) and Makaela (daughter, age 12)