The path John Baumann ’82 took to business success at Colony Brands and in his life of civic activism in Monroe began with a UW–Madison journalism degree.
“My journalism degree was especially helpful because so much of what you do in this setting is communication,” says Baumann, who has spent the last 21 years as president and CEO of the giant direct marketer.
“Accessing information and asking good questions are so important. You’re trying to understand customers’ views and come up with products, ideas, and services that meet those needs,” he says.
Baumann graduated in 1982, then earned a master’s degree in marketing and finance at Northwestern and returned to Monroe as the firm’s manager of new-customer development.
Colony Brands was born as a UW–Madison class project of Ray Kubly in 1926. Kubly envisioned selling Green County cheese via mail order and began the business in his family’s basement. Today the company has 7,000 employees in 14 cities, sells 60,000 different products, and has surpassed $1 billion in annual sales.
“My UW–Madison experience gave me a core belief that your education should benefit not only yourself but should also help others.”
Baumann’s UW–Madison experience provided grounding in the Wisconsin Idea, which he puts to work through a range of civic activities.
He’s on the board of the Monroe Arts Center, is vice president of the Green County YMCA Foundation, and sits on the boards of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association and the Monsignor Thomas Campion Charitable Fund. He’s also on the board of visitors for the UW–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.
Through the John and Katie Baumann Inspiration Project, Baumann and his wife fund causes promoting community activism. They’ve also contributed to the Nicholas Scholarship Matching Program at UW–Madison to provide scholarships for qualifying Monroe High School students.
“My UW–Madison experience gave me a core belief that your education should benefit not only yourself but should also help others,” says Baumann.
Thank you to Green County for John Baumann, who has remained a fully engaged civic and business leader in his own community and the UW community.