Wisconsin Public TV Show Highlights Jamf, Halmstad, and Eau Claire’s Rebirth
The entrepreneurial success of Zach Halmstad and Jamf Software – and how it has reflected and spurred the revival of downtown Eau Claire – is the subject of a new Wisconsin Public Television documentary, Start Up Wisconsin. The half-hour program (which aired last week and is now streaming on the WPT website) focuses prominently on Halmstad, the software firm he co-founded, and the efforts he had his partners undertook to remodel a defunct downtown hotel, which re-opened in 2016 as The Lismore.
WATCH THE EPISODE
“We wanted to feature entrepreneurs who have not just had a great idea and capitalized off of it, but who are driven by something ‘beyond the bottom line,” executive producer Laurie Gorman said. “In Zach’s case, (that was) his desire to use his successes to benefit his hometown.”
“We’ve been blessed to be very successful in our company. And if we’re not using that success to actually drive our entire community forward, we’re failing our friends and family.” – Zach Halmstad
The program tells the stories of two Wisconsin entrepreneurs – Halmstad and UW-Madison scientist Katie Brenner – while also examining issues in the state’s economic and business climates. “The vast majority of businesses that are in Wisconsin are here because this is where the business owner lived when they started the business,” Steven Deller, professor of agriculture and applied economics at UW-Madison, explained in the program. That’s certainly the case for Halmstad: While a student at UW-Eau Claire, the Eau Claire native worked in tech support and saw the need for better software to manage Apple computers and devices. This led him to found Jamf in 2002, and the start up persevered despite being constantly told that to be taken seriously, Jamf should focus on software for Microsoft Windows machines instead. Now, the company has eight offices worldwide and 650 employees, including about 200 in downtown Eau Claire.
For the most prominent segments of the program about Eau Claire, check out the 4 minute and 17 minute marks. The program also discusses the role Halmstad and other like-minded visionaries had in pushing for the Confluence Arts Center, which will open later this year, as well as the challenge of turning the former Ramada Inn into The Lismore.
“We’ve been blessed to be very successful in our company,” Halmstad said in the program. “And if we’re not using that success to actually drive our entire community forward, we’re failing our friends and family.”
In addition to telling the story of Jamf, the program also includes plenty of images of downtown Eau Claire at its best, including Phoenix Park, the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market, Revival Records, Red’s Mercantile, The Informalist, and Grand Avenue Café.