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An Interview With Mitchel Zellinger, VP of Business Development

Work and life is one in the same for me. I genuinely love these people. It was only natural that I found my wife, Ingrid through what I do.

It doesn’t take long to realize that even though Mitchel has called Southern California home since his college days, he never really left New York. He sits down in a chic office chair, blue jeans, long sleeve crew neck and perfectly polished dress shoes. Zelinger cracks a quick joke, smiles, and asks in a way only a New Yorker could, “So what are we doing here today?” A legitimate question as Mitchel’s crazy schedule has him navigating all over Southern California daily.

The conversation today is about how Mitchel learned to develop relationships, and where he sees the next generation of business leaders needing guidance. Zelinger began his career working with his father, Hugo Zelinger who owned a furniture refurbishing company, On-Site Fabricare.

After graduating Cal State Northridge in 1985, he invited his marketing professor, Bill Crookston, (who has since become a lifelong mentor and friend of Mitchel’s) to help him understand how to grow the family business. “He was the doctor, and
we were the patient!” And the doctor told the patient that Mitchel needed to be the company’s evangelist–make friends and leave the operations to his dad. “He taught me that business starts with seven touches and you can’t do all seven in one day or even one week; things take time.” Zelinger drives home his point with a story of a customer who started with a cup of coffee, then three weeks later another cup of coffee and then dinner, and now one of the largest contracts held by the Tangram organization. But what really gets Mitchel excited is that they’ve grown so close that, “his kids call me uncle”.

Mitchel’s goal in mentoring the incoming millennial workforce is to “eliminate the ‘let’s discuss’ mindset and turn it into ‘let’s do’.”

He explains, “we’re in the business to provide a horizontal surface to write on and a vertical surface to define the space;” So what’s left? Relationships. He emphasizes, “seven touches, all soft, not rushed, and just right.” The ‘business contact’ then becomes a lifelong family friend. Mitchel goes on, “Work and life is one in the same for me. I genuinely love these people. It was only natural that I found my wife, Ingrid through what I do.”

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“Your net worth is equal to your network,” and the secret to achieving the network is something that anyone who’s spent any time with Mitchel has heard
on repeat, “do one more thing, every day.”

He explains, “If our competition is starting and ending their day at the same time as us, but each individual at Tangram just did one more thing, there’s no way they would be able to keep up with us.”

Mitchel smiles again, “So are we done here or what?” And there you have it, Mitchel Zelinger, a force to be reckoned with and one of Tangram’s finest.