Tag Archive for Business

Finally getting to meet one of Wayne County’s enigmatic figures

For more than a decade, I have been a reporter at The Daily Record. Up until a week or so ago, I had never had the chance to really speak to John Bowling, president of Rayco Manufacturing.

Rayco

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Administrator Steve Buehrer (left) hears from Rayco Mfg. Plant Manager Jim Miller about a powder coating line.

Bowling is a quiet man who goes about his business, not desiring to call any attention to himself or his company, which manufactures stump grinders, brush chippers and forest mulchers. So, to say I was shocked when I received a call from Jim Pindell, the human resources/safety manager, asking me if I wanted to come on a tour of the plant is an understatement. I jumped at the opportunity.

What was the reason for the tour? Well, Gov. John Kasich was going to be in nearby Medina, Ohio, to deliver his state of the state address, so state officials canvassed Northeast Ohio. Steve Buehrer, administrator for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, wanted to visit Rayco and see how they were putting to use a couple of welding tables the company purchased with a safety grant. (Read The Daily Record story here.)

Plant Manager Jim Miller led Buehrer, his staff and me on a tour, which gave me a glimpse into who Bowling was. When Buehrer arrived, Bowling welcomed him, but deferred all comments to Miller and Pindell. Bowling rejoined the group as it was wrapping up the tour.

Bowling literally built the business from the ground up. Miller talked about how back in 1978 he had a tree service. He needed to rent a stump grinder, but he would not have access to one for a year. He couldn’t wait that long, so he built one. A friend liked it, so he sold it to him, and he built another. Thus began what became Rayco, named for Bowling’s father, the Rev. Ray Bowling (now deceased).

In the journalism business, reporters get to meet a wide-range of people. Some desire attention, a lot of attention. They call up the newsroom informing us of their every activity, asking (before insisting) we send out a reporter and a photographer. In the grand scheme of things, these people do very little, but they crave the spotlight.

Then you have people like John Bowling, who are successful, hire a lot of people, support a lot of families and enhance the local economy my exporting manufactured products and importing sales dollars, and they seek to avoid the limelight, letting their actions speak for themselves.

Stan Welty Jr., former president of Wooster Brush Co., was another one of those who preferred to work behind the scenes. I tried for years to write a story about him, but he never wanted to. The only story I ever had the opportunity to write about him was when he died (you can read that story here).

It was nice to get a chance to spend a little, and by little I mean little, time with Bowling and learn more about him. Buehrer was impressed with what he saw and what he heard, saying Bowling and Rayco are true Ohio success stories.

Here is video from Buehrer’s visit to Rayco:

Learning Some Lessons About Persistence From Josh Krajcik

Josh Krajcik is well-known and well-respected as a singer, songwriter and musician in his hometown area of Wooster, but despite all of the love, he found it difficult to make a mark in the music industry. Until The X Factor.

Krajcik at COW Pixlr

Krajcik was among the performers featured on the inaugural season of the latest singing competition from Simon Cowell. The singer’s rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” went viral and catapulted Krajcik into the country’s consciousness. He was an overnight sensation after about 14 years.

Eventually, Krajcik would finish as runner-up behind Melanie Amaro. Despite the second-place finish, Krajcik seemed poised to have a better, longer-lasting career than the Amaro or third-place finisher Chris Rene. His soulful, bluesy voice, described by “The Rolling Stone” as a combination of a “young Joe Cocker, Bob Seger and old Joe Cocker, just seems to have a staying power what will not be as susceptible to changing fads.

The second season of The X Factor did not do as well as the first. After reading about some of the ratings struggles, I posted this:

Krajcik provided a compelling story line for that first season. The 30–year-old burrito slinger resigned himself to working at burrito joint and playing gigs when he could. Then came the audition for The X Factor. Once that aired, it looked as if it would be smooth sailing: Incredible voice; incredible talent; and incredible response.

Despite turning in wonderful performances and being a fan favorite, trying to get a contract signed and album recorded was very trying. Even though Krajcik wanted things to move at a faster pace, he was always able to separate the business side from the music side.

Whenever Lydia Gehring of The Daily Record would interview him (and I would shoot video, as in the photo above), Krajcik always remained upbeat that something would happen soon. Well, finally something is happening. He released an EP on iTunes, and it was a top seller. He recently announced his new album, “Blindly, Lonely, Lovely,” to be released April 2. (You can preorder it through this Amazon affiliate link: Blindly Lonely Lovely.)

“The Rolling Stone” had a reader’s poll, and Krajcik’s album came in as the sixth-most anticipated release of 2013, behind U2, Pearl Jam, David Cook, Arcade of Fire and Queens of the Stone Age. (I can understand being behind U2 and Pearl Jam, but not the other three.) To understand how impressive this is, consider the rest of the Top 10: Black Sabbath, Brittany Spears, Tool and Lady Gaga all finished behind Krajcik.

Until Krajcik demonstrates he can sell records (or digital downloads), all he has done is shown a potential. However, he is in a position to be successful because he never quit, he never gave up, he pursued a music career on his own terms and played with the hand he was dealt. We can learn about persevering from watching what he has done.

In the times I have been with Krajcik (and he has been generous with his time at the Cleveland House of Blues and College of Wooster concerts), he never complained about what was happening on the business side of the ledger. Instead, he focused on those things he could do.

Life might put up obstacles in your way, but let’s focus on what we can do and start there.

Check out this video I shot and edited featuring Lydia Gehring interviewing Josh Krajcik:

Updated April 5, 2013: Listen to the first five minutes of this video. Everything Krajcik was talking about in September is playing out right now, including the promotional tour.

Want to Succeed? Find the Singular Focus of Mr. Thomas

Mr. Thomas, our cat, has a singular focus. Day-in and day-out, the cat has one thing, and one thing only, on his mind.

Mr. Thomas

That singular focus is to get outside, which might not seem like a bad thing, except Mr. Thomas is a house cat.

So, how does a house cat determine he wants to be an outside cat. Well, before my wife rescued Mr. Thomas (some people found him, along with his litter mates, abandoned in a park and found homes for the kittens), we had bought a wire dog crate, but not for the dog. It was so we could put our cats outside. We don’t want them running off, so we keep them in a crate.

When Mr. Thomas was first introduced to the crate, he absolutely fell in love with being outdoors. So much so, that he always wants to be outside. He does not care if it is cold or snowing or sunny and warm, Mr. Thomas wants to get beyond the front (or back) door and get some fresh air.

In order to accomplish his goal, Mr. Thomas has a ritual. Whenever my wife or I walk even remotely close to the front door, he takes off running, leaps onto the table by the door and pounces on us. He will be in your arms and nearly on your shoulder before you can blink an eye. It took Wendi by surprise the first time he did it when she walked in the house.

Because Mr. Thomas is so persistent, he gets out more than we would like him to be. In fact, it is winter time in Northeast Ohio, and we ran into a spell of a couple of warm days in January, and we dragged the crate out, set it up and let Mr. Thomas, long with Ariel and Buddy, enjoy some fresh air in the outdoors.

If we want to be successful, then it is going to take a singular focus. We have to know what the end game is and devise a strategy to accomplish our goals. Above all else, we have to act. A plan with no action just represents potential. Even if you execute the plan poorly, you can still revise and adapt. If you do nothing, then you better expect nothing good will come of it. You have to get started. Now.

What will receive your singular focus this week? What will drive you to act? There is no better time than now to start, so when will you?

Want to be Successful? It’s Simple, Follow These 16,107 Steps

Regular visitors to The Z Section know of my skepticism about lists, which is why I found Mike Michalowicz’s comments in “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” so funny.

Illuminate - Ivan,Cyborg,Web

Mike wrote about how he had been struck by the number of business books that encourage its readers to take 28 steps, follow these 100 rules, etc. He set out one day to find out how many steps people would need to take to be successful in business, and he said he stopped counting at 16,107.

Actually, Mike does not really recommend you take, or follow, the 16,107 steps. Sorry, I just tried to hook you into reading this blog.

It is my belief when we stop looking for that one best way and actually try to do something, then we will eventually be successful. Mike’s advice is to quit talking and take action.

When it comes to action there is only one lesson. Start now. There really isn’t much else to say. Start now! Start now! Start now!

– Mike Michalowicz

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

Today is a good day to start something. What action will you take today to move closer to your goal?

Read These 5 Books and You Will Start that Business You Always Wanted To

Want to turn your passion into a profession? Your desires into dollars? Your yearnings into earnings? You get the picture.

Guitar
I have always wanted to have my own business, which led me to starting a desktop publishing business and a creating a newsletter geared toward families more than a decade ago. I tried and failed, but I never stopped yearning to have a business. I wish I knew then what I knew now.

I am reading five books that have absolutely reshaped my vision for what a business is. For me, a business is not a storefront. It is an ability to earn money doing what I love, and it is going to be online.

In some upcoming posts, I will give you some insights into what is happening in my world regarding a business (spoiler alert: It ends with me writing Sunday School materials in the evenings while working as a full-time journalist during my days). But, let me share with you how these five books are transforming me.

  1. Timothy Ferriss: The 4-Hour Workweek: This book provides a wealth of information. It will have you reexamining your life and your work, and it will inspire you to think of a product or find something to sell online, but only after you test out your marketing. It will teach you how to automate parts of your business and deal only with those things that really need a decision from you. One of the most helpful things is how Ferriss links his readers with where to find things, where to buy things, where to get a designer, a celebrity endorsement and a manufacturer, if needed.
  2. Chris Guillebeau: The $100 Startup: Talk about an inspirational book. Guillebeau will teach you how to create a microbusiness, something small that will help you earn a decent living so you can have the lifestyle you always wanted. There is a lot of good practical advice about how to come up with a product (even if it is an informational product, ebook, DVD lessons, online courses, etc.), market it, test it, launch it and then start looking for the next big thing. This book and “The 4-Hour Workweek” will get you excited about going into business for yourself.
  3. Michael Hyatt: Platform: Get Noticed in a Busy World: I am a big fan of Michael Hyatt. He offers nothing but imminently practical tips and advice on his blog. I started this blog based on advice he posted. Hyatt will take you by the hand and demonstrate how to establish a platform, build an audience and engage your fans, followers and tribe. The man meticulously documents just about everything he does, which is good for us. He will show you how you can do it, but it will take time and effort. This is a must-have book.
  4. Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book: If you want to write books, then this is the book for you. Kawasaki and Welch will walk you through everything you need to know about writing the book, editing the book, designing the cover, marketing the book, promoting the book and selling the book as a self-publisher. I have already incorporated some of the tips the authors share. If you read this, then the likelihood of you ever seeking to have a book published in the traditional manner will go out the window.
  5. Mike Michalowicz: The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur: I must admit, I have not spent as much time with this book as with the others (bear in mind I am reading all of them at the same time, not one by one), and I purchased it solely on the strength of the reviews. The language can be coarse, but I am working my way through this. Part of the reason I bought it was this blurb in the description: “Which three sheets of paper you need to successfully launch, manage and grow your business.” While I wholeheartedly recommend books 1-4, I am not at the point of saying you need to get this one, but it is one that I have been reading.

There is a lot of overlap with these books in regard to content, but that is OK with me. I see it as reinforcing what I have learned and helping me understand it better.

But the true value of all of these books is that they have shown me how to determine whether a passion of mine is a viable business opportunity. It might not be.

If you have an inkling to start a business, then check these books out. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Disclosure: You should know, all of the above links are Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase, then I will earn a small percentage. Depending upon the cost of the book, it could be anywhere between 40-60 cents.