Learning the business
Williston couple shares business experiences
WILLISTON – Eddie and Megan Wold have learned a lot in building their Williston businesses in the past 10 years, and they don’t mind sharing that knowledge with other fledgling small businesses.
Williston Economic Development tapped the Wolds as a contact for some of its new businesses looking for mentors.
The Wolds’ Meg-A-Latte coffee shops have three locations, and they last year opened Lounge 33, a beer and wine espresso bar. The coffee shops together have 45 employees and the espresso bar employs about 10 people. The coffee shops started with a small array of product choices and have grown to a full menu of breakfast, lunch and snacks.
“We’re definitely a coffee shop but a cafe as well. We have a lot of food options that we just have added to the plate here in the last year and a half,” Megan Wold said.
The Wolds built a large new drive-through location that offers more opportunity for an expanded menu – and more wall space for Eddie’s art.
The artwork that was decorating the shops caught the community’s eye, and Eddie left the insurance business in 2013 to focus full-time on his home business, Eddie Wold Art.
Eddie Wold said his ground metal art form morphed from the original abstract works he created as something unique for the coffee shops to custom works with scenes of the outdoors, oil fields and other thematic pieces.
“It really snowballed into its own little businesses,” he said.
The Wolds had been living in Fargo before moving back to their hometown of Williston. Megan attended and graduated from North Dakota State University, and Eddie, who trained in auto body, was working for repair and custom painting shops. He later operated his own shop, doing custom painting on cars, motorcycles and helmets, for three years.
Returning to Williston, Eddie Wold took a position as an insurance adjuster. Megan Wold had worked in a variety of jobs but was working as buyer for an oil company in Williston when she felt the call to do her own thing.
As a young mother, Megan Wold was looking for flexibility offered by running her own business. She had experience managing a coffee shop and thought that would be a good fit for her.
The Wolds had moved back to Williston to raise their family in a small-town atmosphere just as the oil boom was heating up. Although it wasn’t what they expected, starting a business in a booming community proved to be a good move.
Megan Wold said the development of their small businesses has veered from the original goal. Her intent was to run a small coffee shop on her own, with possibly one other employee.
“Then the boom happened and we had a line out the door every day, and I had to hire 10 new people, and all of a sudden things started really getting busy here in Williston, which allowed us to expand fairly quickly. Within two years we had the second location. Williston was still very busy with oil and so that allowed us to open our third location,” she said. “It wasn’t really the goal, initially, but God graced us with the opportunity to expand.”
Megan Wold received the Woman-Owned Business Entrepreneur of the Year from the North Dakota Small Business Development Center and Williston Economic Development in 2013.
She already has had opportunities to share what she has learned with new entrepreneurs.
“It has been really fun to help new entrepreneurs just because we have now been at this for – it will be – 10 years, and so I’ve learned a lot in that amount of time. I do feel that I can give some advice and some support to someone that’s new to owning their own business,” she said.
“Our advice is just to have some knowledge and maybe try and work in the industry that you want to pursue as your own business,” she continued. “Having the background in whatever it is that you have interest in doing is so important, because then you just really have more of an idea of what it takes.”
“A lot of people fail in business, too,” Eddie Wold added, “because they think it’s something that looks easy, and they try to go at it with no knowledge. Then they don’t know how to run it or manage it. Having experience is absolutely a plus.”
Megan Wold encourages prospective business owners to do their research, whether or not they are able to get actual work experience. When starting her coffee shops, she talked to staff at the economic development office in Williston, who provided valuable information regarding government rules, sales tax and checking all the other business boxes that needed to be checked.
“My dad has been a good mentor for me as well. He’s a financial advisor and so he’s been very helpful in growing our business,” she said.
Eddie Wold said starting his art business was a trial by fire. He had to learn to plan ahead to understand each customer’s unique request as well as understand how a customer wanted to display the art before he tackled the project.
About 80% of his work is company signage because that’s where demand has been. One of his pieces ended up at a church in Austin, Texas, after the congregation became aware of his art at a White House event.
Eddie Wold Art was chosen to represent North Dakota in Washington, D.C, at a 50-state Made in America showcase event. The trip to Washington was a great opportunity, although COVID-19 limited interpersonal interaction and the Wolds didn’t get to meet President Trump, who was being treated for the virus at the time.
Operating their businesses has been as rewarding as they had hoped.
“I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love every day and have Eddie by my side to help us with the coffee shop and have him be able to do what he loves as well,” Megan Wold said. “I don’t think we could ask for a better situation. We both have the time for our kids and we’re able to take the time needed for them because of the fact that we are our own boss.”
Eddie Wold added it helps that they have a good team of employees and can feel comfortable that the shops will run smoothly if they aren’t there.
Megan Wold said their business success is due to the Williston community as well.
“They’ve embraced us,” she said. “We just feel like it’s a great place.”