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Columbus Entrepreneurs' Podcast is primarily for members of the Columbus, Ohio chapter of Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO). Our members include business owners with a majority ownership in companies with at least $1 million in revenue. The stories are inspiring and focus on core principles of EO, including speaking from experience instead of advice giving, building peer learning experiences, and focusing on the top and bottom 5% of our lives. EO is a global organization that offers many benefits and learning opportunities. If you would like to learn more about EO, please visit

Aug 22, 2017

On today’s episode, Michael Erath joins Kevin to talk about his story. Michael shares the ups and downs of his entrepreneurial ventures in the family business, and how he took ownership of his time and business to find entrepreneurial freedom. He now works actively as an EOS implementer, and is releasing his book Rise, on August 29th.


Key Takeaways:

[:47] Michael grew up as second generation in a family manufacturing business, where they manufactured hardwood veneers. His dad was on the sales side of the business, and after he graduated college, Michael moved to Roanoke and became the manager of operations. Michael talks about the ups and downs during his time, particularly how they were affected by the recession, and moving all the ownership from his mom’s estate to his name.

[5:17] Michael had to work with lenders and banks to orderly liquidate the business. They avoided bankruptcy and Michael kept his credit in tact. At the same time this was going on with the family business, he found out that his business partner at his other company (began in 1999) had been embezzling from the company and committing bank fraud.

[11:27] Unfortunately both companies didn’t make it through these events. Once he got back on his feet, Michael decided to start a new business in the same industry in 2011. They outsource their production, and keep a small warehouse in Columbus. They also have a log trading division within that business. It’s now about a $7 million business.

[13:50] One of the frustrations of building this new business was struggling to reach a point where they could start to turn a profit. He began to focus more on revenue, and it blinded him to other things he needed to watch out for in the business. He joined EO Columbus in 2011 to get the peer-to-peer experience.

[16:10] They implemented EOS beginning in 2013, and over the next year and a half the business became very profitable. EOS helped shine a spotlight on the real issues they had and helped them with a system to solve those issues and clean up the company internally. The biggest value for Michael was to realize that he could delegate more and strengthen his teams. This gave him more freedom and time on his hands to do what he wanted.

[19:35] With this spare time, he went through the training to become certified as an EOS implementer. He is now sitting in the “owner’s box” at North American Veneer, and has taken himself out of the day-to-day operations, and runs their quarterly and annual sessions. Michael talks about the areas where he still has to stay a little more engaged.

[22:00] As an EOS implementer, Michael gets to work with other companies, and he’s realized a passion for that kind of collaboration. He enjoys getting to see companies build momentum and watch things come together.

[23:47] Going back to his roots, Michael’s dad started the original veneer business in 1968. Both of his brothers worked in the family business for a period of time, though not without drama. Michael’s entrepreneurial streak started in high school and college, where he worked summers to make money, and also was involved in a band and handled a lot of their promotion.

[27:50] Michael’s book is written as a memoir, taking a reflective look at some of his success and also some of the blind spots that led to the collapse. One of the main focuses is the idea of entrepreneurial freedom. This idea of an “EOS Life” allows people to work with people they love, doing things that they love, making a difference, being appropriately compensated, and having time to pursue other passions. You can live the life, but it takes getting out of your own way.

[30:52] Michael’s wife encouraged him to write his book and share his story. He began to realize his struggles were something other entrepreneurs were encountering, and he felt he could help share lessons learned and help others. His work as an EOS coach helps him do this as well.

[35:43] Michael’s book is out on August 29th with a one-day only discount pricing. Follow the link below to see where you can order the book.


Mentioned in This Episode:

Columbus Chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization

Rise:The Reincarnation of an Entrepreneur, by Michael Erath

North American Veneer

Smart Direction