Management skill and strong team building abilities are often perceived as essential leadership attributes for successful entrepreneurs. Robert B. Reich considers leadership, management ability, and team-building as essential qualities of….
The person I chose to interview is the owner of the company at my current place of work. Larry Godwin is the owner of Godwin Company, Inc, which is a forklift and golf car sales, and service company. Larry worked on his family farm growing up in Arkansas after leaving school in the fourth grade and then moved to Indianapolis when he was 18 years old and began working for a fan company. He got an opportunity for an apprenticeship position at a tool and die company doing mainly forklift repairs.
After that he went to work for Westinghouse, rebuilding electrical equipment, doing machine work, and maintaining their forklifts. He then decided to work for Kidney-Wood, a tow motor distributor, where he was a road technician for one year, he was then promoted to Service Manager. After working in that position for 10 years, he saved $4,000.00 by working overtime on evening and weekends so he could start his own business, that business is now a profitable company.
I think it’s important to point out that he did this with only a fourth grade level education. He is a very determined person and learned everything he knows by observing and taking in everything he learned at his previous places of employment. Larry first opened for business at 2222 East 10th Street in 1969 servicing industrial sweepers and scrubbers for hospitals and factories, as well as, servicing forklift trucks. In 1971 he moved his location to 846 North Hamilton and from there in 1974 he made his final move to 1175 West 16th Street. At this current location the company sales and services forklifts and golf cars. The company also owns 1151, 1201, 1205, and 1207 West 16th Street, which they lease these building to other companies who use it for storage or restaurant space. When he first started the business had a net worth of $4,000.00 and is now a multi-million dollar company. Larry started the business with the fact in mind that if he worked for someone else for the rest of his life, he would only make peanuts. He knew he was good at what he did and he told people so.
He would tell his customers, “I’m the best forklift mechanic in the country.” And with that attitude he would gain the customers business and respect. He had basic accounting knowledge and knew the every department’s actions had to be accounted for in the books. He gained a lot of his knowledge by paying close attention when he worked for others in the past. He knew that the business had to either grow or go backward and it took approximately five years to get a good cash flow. He took out $100,000.00 loan from the bank to help grow the business and paid that loan off as soon as possible. It’s the only loan the company has ever had. You have to have a good understanding of the fact that you can’t grow so fast that you can’t pay your creditors and don’t go out on a limb by purchasing too much stock in the beginning and not be able to sell it fast enough in order to pay your bills. Things didn’t really smooth out until about ten years in.
He suggest spreading your portfolio out so that you won’t los everything if you make one poor choice. He also suggest starting with learning everything possible about something you like and ask yourself if you can make enough money in the beginning to raise the capital of the business because no bank will loan you money if you do not have capital. The biggest advise Larry gave me during the interview was you have to be honest, loyal, have integrity in the business and be able to handle or see that every complaint is handled in a timely and appropriate fashion. You have to know that the money that your business makes stays in the business.
If you start taking money out of the business account, then you are losing your profit. As the owner of the company you get a paycheck and that is what you use to pay your personal bills, not the company’s money. I enjoyed getting to know the owner of the company I work for and how the business was started. I was very impressed with Larry’s determination and passion he has for his business. He is an inspiration to any one wanting to start a business of there own. With only a fourth grade education he was determined and observant enough to learn from others and build a very successful business. I’m proud to work for a company that is built on passion, honesty, and integrity.