Groenwald Enjoying Business Success Once Again
By Bob Meyer
From time to time I write about people who have left the commercial
barter industry, but were very instrumental in its development. One
person who gave untiringly, year after year for over two decades, to
our industry was Susan Groenwald. Here’s an update:
On a recent Sunday evening, Marcia and I met with Keith and Sue
Groenwald for a 3-hour sunset dinner overlooking the beautiful Dana
Point Marina in Southern California. Inasmuch as we hadn’t seen one
another for eight years we had a lot of catching up to do.
The Groenwald’s came into the barter industry in 1980 and they
jumped in with both feet by hosting national conventions, pioneering
new ways of doing business, and becoming very active and supportive
of the industry’s only trade association — the International
Reciprocal Trade Association.
The Groenwald’s had the Chicago franchise for Barter Systems
International, and later went independent creating Chicago Barter
Corp. Keith left the industry several years later and Sue carried on
as Chicago Barter Corp’s leader. (Her leadership capabilities were
recognized when named as the National Businesswoman of the Year by
the National Association of Women Business Owners in 1999.) The
company grew to 80 employees in four locations, prior to selling out
to a venture capital firm in the 2000 dot.com era.
After being out of the barter business for several years Sue joined
DeVry Inc. in January 2006, focusing on the transition and
development of the company’s subsidiary, the Chamberlain College of
Nursing. (Many in the barter industry didn’t know of Sue’s
occupation prior to barter, which was nursing. In addition to having
an RN and Master’s degree she edited five textbooks on cancer
nursing, one of which won the American Journal of Nursing Book
It was Sue’s job to expand the nursing college ... and what a job
she’s done. When she took over, just three years ago, they were
limping along with a couple of campuses. Under her management today
they have locations in St. Louis (MO), Columbus (OH), Jacksonville
(FL), Phoenix (AZ), Arlington (VA), and four in suburban Chicago.
They presently have over 4000 students distributed throughout their
seven campuses, plus some students enrolled online in either the RN
to BSN completion program or the masters degree in nursing program.
According to Groenwald, “I can tell you that opening a campus is
much harder than opening a barter company! The education industry is
highly regulated, especially healthcare, so we have to write
applications, submit to site inspections, and gain approval from
boards of nursing, boards of higher education, as well as three
different accreditors. It’s quite a lengthy and cumbersome process,
but well worth the effort.
“I like that the college is part of a larger company (DeVry is a
NYSE traded company) that has a great reputation for quality and
integrity, as well as rich resources, but that my job is very
entrepreneurial — growing a business from almost the ground up. And
we are solving a national healthcare problem by helping reduce the
Keith imports specialized high-end plywood from Russia and Canada,
among other places, that is distributed to companies making dies for
the packaging industry (for boxes). He is general manager of the
company and has been there about two years. He, as well as Sue,
loves his work.
It was terrific seeing them both again, happy, healthy and so
successful in their transition from the barter industry.