Greg Huber is President of Signature Teambuilding and Challenge Discovery, two companies dedicated to team building through experiential learning.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Greg and learn about the decision to split Challenge Discovery and establish two separate companies, how they differentiate themselves from their competitors, and how Greg maintains a comfortable work/life balance.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. I moved around a little bit but have been in Richmond for 32 years now, so this is home.
Q: What are you passionate about in your personal life?
A: I think my personal life and my professional life are kind of combined. I love pursuing outdoor activities that are challenging. I like pushing myself by doing things like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or cycling 100 miles back and forth on the Capital Trail. I believe that translates back to my professional life because that’s really what we are doing here at Signature Teambuilding, as well. Our work is intended to push people outside their comfort zones in an effort to learn more about themselves.
Q: What college did you attend and what did you study?
A: I completed my undergraduate degree at Illinois State University and master’s degree at University of Richmond in Sport Science.
Q: Tell me about your early career.
A: Between undergraduate and graduate school, I managed a health club in the Chicago area for two years, but I pretty much went from graduate school right into this business. There was a job opening for Challenge Discovery when I was finishing grad school, so I took that opportunity as Director. I ran that for about five years back when it was still a non-profit. Eventually I took over and turned it into a for-profit, so I still own that company. We started Signature Team Building about 10 years ago as our corporate, adult-learning division.
Q: In your words, what are Challenge Discovery and Signature Teambuilding, and how do they differ?
A: They are two different companies with generally the same concept. Challenge Discovery is centered on youth programming for grades five through undergraduate school. We primarily focus on social and emotional learning through adventure-based activities. Signature is really an offshoot of Challenge Discovery and picks up at graduate school and beyond. Here at Signature we work with graduate students, small and large businesses, government organizations, and non-profits. Signature Teambuilding builds relationships faster, deeper, and stronger in a four-hour time than you could do almost anywhere else.
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: I’ve been doing this for 30 years now.
Q: What sparked your decision to split the company and start Signature Team Building?
A: I had developed a few programs that were more adult- and corporate-oriented and wouldn’t really work as well for younger students, so there was sort of a natural divide between these groups. It also made sense to separate the two from a branding standpoint. The staff that work at Signature Teambuilding and I have a lot of experience in adult-learning, and we didn’t want perceptions that Challenge Discovery just works with kids because we do know how to service both groups.
Q: How do your programs with Signature Teambuilding work?
A: Our programs are not one and done experiences. I maintain many long-term relationships with organizations. We have four programs: WaterWorx, Expedition Antarctica, TeamQuest, Shifting Gears. They each have their own frameworks. What I do is get a sense of what a client is trying to achieve and what they have done in the past. I then determine which program will best help them reach their goals and customize that program based on the company’s needs, size, language, and beyond.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges in growing the business? What have you done differently as a result?
A: The word team building means a lot of things to a lot of people. Some of team building includes activities like go-karting, golfing, and things like that. Our definition of team building is more team development, more purposeful, and more outcome-oriented. We use the activities to create conversations which lead to awareness and then learning and growth. We solve questions like ‘what do we change about our behavior;’ ‘what do we change about the way we work together;’ ‘how do we appreciate others’ that other activities don’t answer. So, while the initial challenge was just educating people as to what we do, it has evolved into differentiating ourselves as adding value and being a different kind of company. Once people experience it, they get it and they’re loyal to us, but it’s the challenge of first showing that what we bring is more than just an activity.
Q: As a successful business owner, do you have work / life balance? How have you managed to improve the joy and fulfillment in your life?
A: I have a great work/life balance and always have. My son is 27 and my daughter is 24, so I’ve been doing this as long as they have been alive. I didn’t really start traveling for work until about 10 years ago as our reputation began growing, so I don’t think I ever missed a soccer game or a swim meet. I’ve been home and relevant in their lives. Maintaining the same values and belief systems as a family as I do at work has really made that work/life balance easy.
Q: What can we and others in the community do to help your business grow and be more successful?
A: It’s all about educating people that Signature Teambuilding is a purposeful organization dedicated to developing teams beyond just a fun, playful organization. Meeting people and telling our story really helps others to understand the more meaningful, intimate relationships we that have with our clients.
Q: What advice would give other entrepreneurs / small business owners?
A: Stay purposeful. If something doesn’t align with your values, let it go. You have to stay true to who you are and what you believe in. If you have a good product and you believe that you’re making a difference, don’t let other pressures push you to places you don’t want to go.
“How I Got Started...” is a blog series that spotlights the entrepreneurial and life journeys of various small business owners and professionals. The content of this blog was curated by members of the CreativeMktGroup team.