I suppose the best place to start a blog about a company is at the beginning. I suspect that the ole “how I started the company” story is probably just a bunch of blah, blah, blah for some people but it always reminds me of my roots so it has some value to me at least. ☺
The company I worked for prior to D9 was called Evergreen Flooring. I say “was” because they do not exist anymore. They were good people to work for but became victim to the economy crash of 2001 due to a variety of reasons, chiefly expansion at the wrong time and a too-heavy management structure that could not be supported by the too-few revenue producers. The first warning sign was when they told me I could not sell any more large projects (read cash-flow issues). This sounded like a good time to make an exit.
Based on where I had come from; installer – Project engineer – Project Manager (Sales), the only real upward move I could make was to start my own business. I politely declined multiple offers of employment elsewhere (while still accepting the free lunches) and started discussing the possibility with my intrepid better-half (back when I had one). We didn’t have any real savings at the time and lived on one income source but we were game! After finagling a home equity loan, contracting with my friend, Melissa Boggan (now Rossi and one of my D9 business partners) to set up the legal and financial side, building a couple desks out of doors (yes, I was inspired by that Amazon guy Bezos) and putting it all in our fourth bedroom we were ready for business.
There were, of course, plenty of obstacles. One was getting product reps to come out to my place and give me sample books from which to reference product information. Our house was on the side of a hill, sitting on 5 acres of forest tucked into the unincorporated foothills of Duvall and it was a bit of a drive to get there. One rep commented that he swore he heard banjo music on the way to my house and I struggled mightily to avoid a reply referencing the movie “Deliverance”. Other obstacles were: a consistent broadband connection, obtaining and keeping quality subcontractors, cash flow (my HELOC was only 90K) and kids. Lori and I solved the kid’s problem (kids being my 5 year old daughter Aleah and 2 year old son Kenny) by splitting the timing of our duties. I would sell and manage projects during the day and Lori would pay bills and create invoices at night. I was very grateful to the reps who took a chance on our little business and I believe most of them would consider the investment in time and resources to have paid off very handsomely 13+ years later.
That first year was fraught with nervousness, had much for concern, presented problems galore to solve but with sheer determination and the mantra “Failure is not an Option!” we survived. Survival consisted of a kitchen well-stocked with Top Ramen, little to no social life and 16 hour workdays at times but any survival starting a business at the depths of a recession can be counted a SUCCESS!
We did 1.4 million in revenue that first year and made a whopping, unheard of profit upwards of 25%. That was mainly attributed to very little overhead and not taking a salary.
My other D9 business partner, Mike Quinton, bought into the company and started work at the beginning of year 2. And from there we just rolled.
How we started and the obstacles we overcame getting to where we are now still amaze me at times. It warms my heart to walk in today and see all the people I work with on a daily basis and the company we have built.
Its community, friends, family and a worthwhile endeavor that creates a life and mine is well worth living.
Ciao for now!