Frank Campana’s idea for The Nutman Company was born in the 1970s in Long Island, New York, when he and a friend began selling nuts and chocolates door-to-door at small businesses. In 1989, Frank moved from New York to Wisconsin and began holding nut and chocolate fundraising sales at larger businesses. Frank would set up shop in the business for most of the day selling to employees and then donate a portion of the sales to the business’s nonprofit of choice. In 1992, Frank officially incorporated the company and expanded to nationwide corporate and individual gift giving, gourmet gift baskets and wholesale sales. To this day, The Nutman Company still hosts fundraising events at large Wisconsin businesses, and you’ll also find them at weekend craft shows.
Several years after marrying Jill in 2001, the Campanas took their entrepreneurial vision to a new level, opening three additional businesses — The Really Cool Gift Shop, The Java Dancer Coffee Bar and Sacred Space Studio.
Frank’s first Wisconsin location for The Nutman Company was a tiny space in Slinger.
“The business was just starting to grow. I needed an extra $5,000 because it was the Christmas season and I needed to buy a lot of extra product to fulfill Christmas orders,” Frank said. “The first bank I went to wouldn’t lend me the extra money. I walked out of that bank and went across the street to First National Bank. Iris was the lender at the time and she let me express myself. At the end of the conversation she said, ‘We’re going to back you.’”
Frank has been a First National Bank customer ever since his initial experience in the early 1990s. He appreciated that First National Bank staff considered his character and his business numbers when making a loan decision.
“I feel there’s a personal relationship with First National Bank,” Frank said. “They appreciated my character and who I was, and I’ve appreciated the character of the people we’ve worked with.”
Eventually, Frank moved The Nutman Company to a bigger location in Hubertus, tripling his square footage from the first storefront. Then in 2003, Frank and Jill took out a loan from First National Bank to renovate their space so they could accommodate their three new businesses.
“We had been thinking about a coffee bar and a gift shop for a couple of years,” Frank said. “Jill also wanted to have a space to teach Nia dance exercise, and we thought, ‘why have her drive somewhere else when we can do it right here?’”
Frank is the first to admit that initially it may have seemed like a crazy concept to combine three distinct businesses.
“We wanted to diversify and we expanded cautiously,” Frank said. “You can’t just dream without being critical of your dream. You have to put your head in heaven and your feet on earth. You have to be a dreamer and a doer.”
The Really Cool Gift Shop serves as the hub for the four businesses. The Nutman Company products, including nuts, fruit and nut mixes, oven-roasted corn nuts and more than 50 types of chocolate can be found throughout The Really Cool Gift Shop. In addition to gourmet mustards, granola and grain-free baking products, the gift shop features a wide range of trendy and elegant jewelry, Sacred Threads casual clothing and Laurel Burch handbags. Customers also will find soaps, body lotions, Bean Pod soy candles, garden stakes and structures, wind chimes, books, boutique wine accessories, and many more unique gifts.
The Java Dancer Coffee Bar, also located within The Really Cool Gift Shop, is a full-service coffee bar with seating for about 20 people. The coffee bar serves hot and cold Colectivo coffee drinks, plus chai tea, fruit smoothies, herbal teas and hot chocolate. Fresh bakery and desserts from Colectivo and City Market round out the offering.
Sacred Space Studio is located within the same building as well and offers Nia dance exercise movement and yoga classes, as well as guided movement and meditation classes. Jill is a licensed black belt Nia instructor and certified Reiki master teacher.
"First National Bank backed us from the beginning. They believed in us, and from then on, First National Bank has always supported us,” Frank said. “We wouldn’t have gone anywhere without them. They have been an integral part in our development. They listen to our needs as a small business and respond accordingly."
One of the things most important to Frank in all of his personal and business relationships is loyalty.
“Lots of banks wouldn’t help us when we needed help, and now they want to retain us as clients because we’ve grown,” Frank said. “But why would I go anywhere else? We’re well-treated, the people at First National Bank are of high character, and the rates have always been very good. I prefer to maintain my long-time relationships rather than jumping around to potentially save a nickel or a dime.”
Frank and Jill believe the secret to their success is their spirit — on a daily basis they each strive to identify with a higher quality of character and then put that into action with the way they treat people.
“Let some of this earth go. Live from a higher place within yourself,” Frank said. “Come up higher in your consciousness in how you live and express your life.”
“I feel there’s a personal relationship with First National Bank. They appreciated my character and who I was, and I’ve appreciated the character of the people we’ve worked with.”