With only a welder and a dream, I started my first business in the corner of a small shop at our family farm. It was 1987. I had just completed my master’s degree and returned to our family farm in Illinois when the industrious entrepreneur in me decided it was time to build something.
I set up a little welding shop and turned to the neighbors to see what they needed for their farms. They told me they needed quality animal fencing – something I agreed to make for them - and the orders came in. First from our neighbors, then from their neighbors, then theirs and soon, orders were coming in from far away.
Very soon I recognized another opportunity for my company and became an inventor. I patented a hog feeding device that I quickly built into one of the best-selling swine feeding products in the USA. My company was a success and getting lots of attention – but not all of it was welcome. A large, international firm filed a patent infringement lawsuit against my company, and the huge cost of patent defense thrust me into my first experience in corporate crisis management. I was 28 years old, running a start up company and fighting an international corporation in a patent lawsuit. They planned to crush me.
The litigation lasted five years, and managing the distress honed several of my most valuable skills. I needed strict financial discipline as creditors and suppliers grew concerned about risk. I developed careful communication and reporting systems that earned their trust and kept them making deliveries and extending credit. Customers also grew concerned, so I built even closer relationships with them. As I reported to them each milestone in the defense of my patent, I earned their confidence – and transformed my customer base into cheering supporters who shared a sense of victory in my company’s success.
I became a private-pilot and flew the country making sales appointments near and far, managing the outsourced manufacturing of my products and developing the litigation defense of my company – all to maximize operational efficiency.
Finally! My persistent legal defense paid off when, in The Netherlands, I uncovered the piece of the patent puzzle that guaranteed a win in the litigation. The patent lawsuit was settled within weeks and our entire team was thrilled. It was a David and Goliath story and I enjoyed the success, but now I understood that I was motivated by corporate crisis and I began to actually miss the distress.
The business grew and turned profits until the farm economy tanked in 1998 and my pork producing customer base underwent massive contraction. I put my business up for sale and became a Turnaround Professional.
Today, as an experienced businessman and a Certified Turnaround Professional, I understand the benefit that my strongest personal skills bring to my work: My entrepreneurial spirit and creative skills reveal opportunity and methods for success where others see none. My financial discipline allows me to survive through the hardest times to prosper in the good. My ingenuity allows me to craft lasting solutions for the toughest problems. My ability to motivate and lead people allows me to transform the company’s mission into the personal passion of others. These are the skills I use to turn distressed businesses into truly successful ventures.
All this from just a welder and a dream. Imagine what I can do for your company.