Bill Whittenberger of Catacel
When and why did you start your business?
I started Catacel in 2001. I was attempting to grow a small web business I had started, but it wasn't going so well. My previous boss and a former colleague suggested an opportunity using catalysts for gas turbine combustion. I also talked with a potential customer, which confirmed the need. Having nothing better to do, I decided to have a go at it. We started with the three partners and now have 18 employees. Did you consider yourself an entrepreneur before that?
Modestly, because I did attempt to start the web business.Where did you find your first employee?
We hand picked our first seven employees from a pool of employees at the former catalyst business where we three partners had all worked. That business was purchased by another company and moved to Alabama.What state or local resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?
We received a grant from the Third Frontier program in 2006 and were fortunate to receive four more grants from that program. We also linked up with a variety of fuel cell customers and a supply chain through the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition. What's the most difficult thing about running your own business?
Figuring out how to do things that I never imagined would need to be done has been the most difficult challenge. I wasn't even sure what questions to ask. Another difficult task was trying to accomplish amazing things with very scarce resources and also raising money for growth.What's the best thing about running your own business?
I'm in control of my own destiny and make decisions that have a real impact on our growth.What has contributed most to your growth?
Frankly, a lot of dumb luck. Yet we make our own luck with perseverance and hard work. So some is luck, and some is quickly recognizing and acting on an opportunity.What companies or founders do you admire and why?
Richard Cornelison, one of our three original founders, was a mentor and taught us how to operate with integrity and forthrightness. Also, two of our suppliers -- Robinson Fin in Kenton Ohio, and Dexmet in Connecticut -- because they always provide fast, efficient service, predictable costs and no surprises. They are models of how business should be conducted.