For those not of the era, Victor Kiam was an American entrepreneur and TV spokesman for Remington Products, and the owner of the New England Patriots football team from 1988–1991. After attending Yale University, the Sorbonne and Harvard Business School, Kiam worked for Lever Brothers and Playtex as a salesperson. He first made his fortune as the President and CEO of Remington Products, which he famously purchased after his wife bought him his first electric shaver. He’s also the author of: Going for It!:How to Succeed As an Entrepreneur ¬– and an inspiration to many like me.
If Victor could do it, why couldn’t I? I had designed my Hydraulic Door System for my helicopter hangar based on the principles of: zero loss of headroom, the maximum width of opening possible, the ability to clad in aesthetic materials, ease and simplicity of use, and, of course, ownership. I knew what I needed to do… I needed to build these doors.
I tried all my contacts in the area and no one would take it on as a project. By chance, whilst thumbing through Trade-a-Plane, I saw a very small photo of a hangar with what “looked” like “My Door.” I called the classified ad and was re directed to a small company in Minnesota. It was located 13 miles from the nearest airport in a town called Marshall. How fortuitous!
Thanks to the local Schwann Food Co., who had invested in the local airport and set it up for private aircraft, I was there within the week on a charter direct from Palomar Airport in California (KCRQ) to Marshal, Minnesota (KMML). That trip changed my life.
I found a gem… my door in its infancy. Door were being manufactured in a tightly run (by the Accountant/ CEO) small welding shop called Cottonwood Welding & Manufacturing Inc., just outside Cottonwood, MN. A small town of 1,125 people, Cottonwood is surrounded by more corn, bean and ethanol plants than can ever be imagined! Twenty-five dedicated people were in the process of making the early and original versions of what later became “my door,” the Hydroswing® Hydraulic Door System.
Having been involved for many years in engineering in the aviation and defense industry, I was quickly able to evaluate what I was seeing. As a customer, I could see the door itself, and as an entrepreneur and business man, I could see the business. I knew instantly I was looking at my next big project… AND what a project it became! The process began… I was going to buy that door, I was going to buy that business, and all that came with it… good, bad, or otherwise. My diligence was in full flow!
Opportunity was knocking, and knocking hard! There was no time to waste ... Some would say the welding mask was a great improvement! And so the journey began…
To be continued…