Telling entrepreneurs in Key West, Florida, how to run their key lime pie business might sound like a bold move, but that's exactly what Marcus Lemonis had to do during season two of CNBC's The Profit.
In 2013, Lemonis invested $450,000 for 51 percent of The Key West Key Lime Pie Co., a struggling business owned by Jim Brush and Alison Float. During the show's most recent season, Lemonis checked back in with the company to see how it was performing. After generating sales of $1 million in 2014, the business is projected to reach $1.2 million in revenue this year. More importantly, the company went from losing $100,000 in 2014 to generating an estimated $100,000 of profit this year.
So how did Lemonis turn things around?
Most of the money that went into the company paid for a complete renovation, new appliances, and paying off debt, but the most important decision Lemonis made was arguably changing the dynamic between Brush and the company's manager, Tami Forbes. A dedicated worker, Forbes handled everything from staffing to customer service to special events, but was only collecting a paycheck of $300 per week, forcing her to work a second job.
Though Brush and Lemonis agreed that Forbes was the heart and soul of the company, Brush refused to increase her salary, a decision Lemonis chalked up to "anger issues" and being resistant to change.
"The only thing Jim and I agreed on was Tami's value," Lemonis said during the episode.
To align the Key West Key Lime Pie Co. with its greatest asset--Forbes--Lemonis bought the remaining 49 percent of the company and raised Forbes' salary to $1,000 per week, allowing her to quit her second job. After seeing an improvement in the business's performance, Lemonis even gave Forbes a 25 percent equity stake in the company.
"If you're going to have a successful business, you have to have people on the team that actually love the business and care about it as much as you do," Lemonis said.
Today, Forbes says the changes Lemonis made to the company have been invaluable.
"To have a fair wage and have a worker represented and recognized is a big deal," she told Inc. in an interview. "Marcus is a really phenomenal person and his personal people skills are amazing."
Stay tuned for more recaps of The Profit every week.