This year we included a special recognition award. Compared to artistic recognition, its paying homage from us at Stevens Magic to a very special person. We decided to make it public because we wanted to illustrate that contributions to the industry are not always entertainment oriented. There are many of us, who are in magic but also have incredible skill sets in other area’s such as business and marketing. They contribute to the art of magic in their own unique and essential manner. This Business Consultancy Award shows that example by paying homage to Randall Schostag for his business consultancy to us in 2016. It’s not often you can find reliable, credible and honest council… With over 40 years in the magic business – we have witnesses and adapted to a lot of change. But the past 10 years have been exponential in regards to the shifts in the marketplace, not just for our little industry but for all business, regardless of product and even services. Just one of Randall’s key suggestions made a considerable difference to us, but his constant accessibility has been a tremendous asset.
Randall provided us with an insight into trends within the magic industry, as well as looking outside to find the challenges and “solutions” from similar specialty businesses or our size and genre.
While no doubt the economy has improved, Randall helped us steer through the previous storm and in doing so we have managed to have (both 2015 and 2016) healthy consecutive increases in total aggregate sales. And for the past three years we have seen the number of first time,customers (ages 22-45), quadruple, with very high percentages of retention and repeat orders over a 24 month period.
Randall has been in business all of his professional life, and while he specialized in business valuation, his has passion for the global market place and maintaining customer satisfaction with an emphasis on obtaining new customers.
Like a good mentalist, his predictions were right on, and we want to take this opportunity to thank him for his guidance and continued advocacy.
Why he was such a good fit is easy, his business acumen along with this love for the art of magic. Anyone knows that finding people that are passionate about what they do is a winning recipe; in Randall we were able to find someone passionate about both business and magic!
Randall has magic in his blood, in fact long before going into the professional world of business.
Started magic and ventriloquism 1952 at 7 years old
started active performing in 1953
First with ventriloquism with Jerry Mahoney dummy doll
From there Randall started doing a lot of shows so his parents took him to Chicago where he met Jay Marshall and Frances Ireland Marshall. They purchased a small vent figure Jay had used one time with Queen of England. I mean, you know, nothing special right? Anyway they named him Richard (Ricky) Sherwood (as in Sure Wood).
During high school Randall was able to consistency average more than one show (most were paying by end of junior high school) per week for most of the year. In many cases, he managed to book several shows per week. Needless to say Randall became comfortable, in a place more people would abhor – the stage!
After high school, like any conservative mid-western family ethic, Randall started college but left to join Army (as many did during this tumultuous time), where he worked in Army Intelligence after joining in 1965 in 1968 after tour of Vietnam in the middle of Tet Offensive.
Upon his return Randall became a newspaper reporter for Mankato Free Press, daily newspaper. It had the largest circulation in southern Minnesota. He morphed into both a Political and financial writer. Eventually he became the Legislative reporter for the Minnesota State Capital.
Randall eventually left Mankato and moved to Minneapolis (the big city). There he began the difficult job of selling insurance and mastered the art of cold calling and his second job was working in the backroom of an investment bank. From there Randall became licensed as registered rep (stock broker) and moved to sales. Next he studied and became Licensed for NASD, NYSE, Boston, and Midwest exchanges. Randall specialized (as many people starting out in this field) by focusing on small companies which traded (OTC), “over-the-counter.” As time marched with ardent consistency and discipline eventually Randall was in a position where he could Consult with local public companies. This was his “passion.” As such he ended up leaving investment banking when he was hired by local commercial bank. Following the same tenacity as before, he was promoted to vice president, and then opened up the second detached facility in Minnesota. Randall’s focus and inspiration in the banking office was to work with small businesses. He prefers smaller businesses compared to working in the public market for one reason – “relationships!”
But as one often does in a lifetime, other opportunities often entice us like the Greek sirens and Randall left the bank to start a children’s clothing company. He raised $1 million start up capital. Within his first season he achieved orders of $3.5 million. One of the major lines he was importing was manufactured in Mexico. Randall learned about volatility in external markets, as his business was crushed by the Mafia (literally). Devastated but not beat, he went back into the financial services industry joining John Hawthorn Company where he specialized in business appraisal and client consulting. Not content to just being an employee, Randall purchased John Hawhtnorn Company with two others. They changed the name to Hawthorn Financial and broadened it to include litigation support for contested valuations. After 3 years Randall started his next business, titled Minnesota Business Valuation Group. Then, like clockwork, 3 years later – sold that business to Olsen Thielen CPA firm, a regional certified public accounting firm. Randall was retained (a smart move by the new owners) as president of the firm for 7 years when he stepped down to join an investment bank as director of corporate finance – where he remained for two years.
Randall is now retired from securities work – but by no means did he (nor will he) – retire. He moved on to work with SCORE (Service Corps Of Retired Executives) for two years; helping small businesses. Randall now spends his professional time with Minnesota Corporate Finance, where he does small projects for small businesses, including buying and selling small businesses, appraisals, and consulting (as he has done so well for us at Stevens Magic in 2016). Randall is also working for the Marriott with I’m sure additional hopes to incorporate his Mentalism show… But that is covert – he didn’t even tell me this – I just know what he’s up too! Thanks Randall for all your advice, guidance, support and solid friendship from all of us at Stevens Magic Emporium.