Being an entrepreneur is all about thinking — strategic thinking, thinking on your feet, thinking about EVERYTHING. Having grown the UK's largest Firework Co in the 90's to a position of highly profitable sale to TNT Fireworks at the millennium, it was clear from my new (ad) venture into steel fabrication and hydraulic systems that my next ten years were destined once again to be shrouded in sparks. And sparks there were, along with plenty of loud music and the ever present delivery challenges. I felt right at home in the fire.
As a business owner, there are always moments that stick. The ones that tell you in your gut that you can really make this happen. I remember that significant memorable and proud moment in my first year as I was walking through our shop in Cottonwood, Minnesota. Early morning. Today’s “kill” in numerous pickup trucks outside. Our guys cutting, grinding, sawing, welding, lifting, painting loading and dispatching. It was alive! Nickelback playing full blast battling to win out over the noise of the productive machinery. The smell of weld and ground steel in the ether, sparks flying: The Door Machine Cometh! It was in full swing and there was an air of determination for the future.
In the heady first months of any start up or acquisition, it is my belief that every entrepreneur is nervous, and I was no exception. In a town of only 1,127 people in the Midwest, the pressure to succeed was great. I set to work on ensuring we had the volume, the tools we needed, and the production capacity required to deal with that volume.
It was time for that strategic thinking. We had to evaluate our existing sectors, aviation and agriculture. Like all fast-growing businesses, we had new challenges relating to volume… the more we made our markets aware, the further out our emerging customer base wanted us. Creating the volume was one thing, but overcoming the logistical headache was a challenge and as we grew. Think teamwork. A team was coming together and several of my guys stepped up. Not only did we have an emerging brand, but we also had some emerging stars in our midst who wanted to succeed! Another moment… I had the right people at the right place.
When I acquired the small shop in Cottonwood, production was running at 250 to 350 units annually. Within one year, we were rocketing towards a year two target of 750 to 1,000 units.
My vision was taking shape at warp factor. The rush an entrepreneur feels, that addiction we’ve all experienced was alive, growing and hungry!
To be continued...