A: Oklahoma City Community College hired me to take over their metal technology courses. I told myself I was still in the same field, only on a different level. Some of my time I spent lecturing to students; my largest class was 15. The remainder was hands-on. I really enjoyed molding people into the career they wanted to work in. We trained them to be a sort of liaison between engineers and people in the shop. But there's a lot of bureaucracy in education. After nine years (I‘d initially planned to stay only five), I knew there was only one way to find out if I could be successful on my own. When I'd saved six months' of living expenses, I quit my teaching job and opened shop. It helped that I initially worked from a friend's warehouse.
Q: What do you like most about the custom manufacturing business?
A: I enjoy building a new product. It's rewarding to see the equipment in the field, making someone's working career easier and better. Many in the overseas markets lack the technology we have. And custom machinery allows them to be more able than they were in the past. I also like the fact that the manufacturing business creates new money, versus the service industry, where money is passed from one entity to the next.
Q: The Florida-based biographies company Legacies & Memories captured your life, and company's success, in a book. Why was it important for you to publish your story?
A: I never planned to sell the book. I just wanted to be able to hand young people who may be starting a small business in technical trades some insights about what you have to go through to build a successful business. In today's world, people want almost instant gratification. But running a business is a struggle, including making a lot of cold sales calls to engineers and others to get it going. You have to stay focused, and it takes a lot of good, old-fashioned hard work. I didn't have a lot of mentors. Instead, I learned a lot from my failures. And failures, as long as they're not devastating, are simply part of the process.
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