Andy Wells: From $1,400 to $90M Company!
Achieve success like Andy Wells III and learn how he transformed his business from $1,400 to $90M!
He founded the company in 1994 with a mere $1,400 investment to manufacture industrial tools and fasteners.
Over the years, the company then achieved the million dollar annual revenue mark and was certified as an 8a, HUBZone, Small Disadvantaged Business, and a Minority Business Enterprise.
As of the time of this interview, the company’s revenue was $90 million and is still moving upward.
BUILDING WELLS TECHNOLOGY
With the goal of providing jobs to Native Americans like him, Andy Wells decided to quit his job as a university teacher and started Wells Technology.
“Of course, it’s like driving at night with your headlights. You don’t see real far, you just see a little haze. I thought I might create two or three jobs. So, we started manufacturing with a machine.”
After trying on different projects for six months, Wells then came across to an air-powered scissor. They manufactured 50-100 at a time and he began selling it on the back of his car across the United States. With this little success, they began to hire more people.
GETTING A MENTOR
However, when they seemed to be not going beyond their revenue, Wells went to their occasional buyer, Fastenal, and asked them to be their mentor.
With this, they started helping them with their marketing efforts to grow their business by bringing them to trade shows and other events across the country.
“So many small entrepreneurs will start a business with a service or manufacturing something. And they don’t realize how difficult marketing is. So they go into it, not allowing enough time or labor or capital money to fund a real good marketing effort. And we found out then that the marketing expense is just as much as same work and expense as the manufacturing part.”
STRUGGLES AND SUCCESS
Throughout the years, Wells faced different challenges in dealing with both the business and her family.
He wasn’t able to give more time to his youngest son and now, his wife with cancer needed both emotional and physical aid. Meanwhile, he still needs to stir the ship correctly for his employees.
“That’s one of the things when you are a small business, you drive in to your parking lot in the morning and you see all these cars of your employees. Them and their families depend on you.”
However, with all of this, Wells continued to be optimistic because these people believed in him and without them, Wells Technology won’t be successful as it is today.
“I get an award… but to tell you the truth, there are hundreds of people that are making it happen behind the scenes. And these are the positions that are truly important.”
BUILDING SOMETHING FOR THE COMMUNITY
Andy Wells is recognized by former US President Barack Obama for providing jobs and other opportunities to his community.
“There comes a time when I can say that, ‘That’s Okay,’ to get that experience and all but there comes a time in our life when we need to come back to our communities and give back to our communities. We can’t just be leaving because it’s like a brain drain or a success drain in our communities when we have our best and brightest leaving all the time.”
Apart from that, Wells also teaches character and the value of trust, honesty, respect, and integrity for these people who want to work with him.
Although Wells gathered bigger awards as a business owner, the greatest reward that he achieved was being able to see these people get their paycheck and go home to their families.
“We invest the profits back in our communities. And you know, so we can help others, because we have that connection. And it allows our people to be part of the American dream that way.”
ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
1. Be the first to hand a card.
You need to network yourself by going to different events. But in order to leave a mark, you should be the first person to hand your card and turn that simple conversation to a lasting relationship.
“You remember the first and the last person that asked you for something.”
2. Do what you said you’re gonna do.
You need to take account of your words in order to earn other people’s trust and respect.
If you said you’re gonna meet them at a certain time, be there 5 minutes early. Don’t be late.
“Do what you say you’re gonna do. And earn their respect. And it takes a while…. Some of them like Lockheed Martin, I worked with them for 10 years before I got my first business opportunity. It takes a while, they got to see you, they got to begin to trust you. You know, know you and kinda see the direction you’re heading. See if there’s a fit between you and them.”
3. Find people who have the same interests as you.
Not all your friends before will understand your current interests, so you need to find others who are also interested in what you do.
“The friends I had before are more into education and teaching. So they didn’t have any interest in entreprenuring, while I was excited about helping them know it. They didn’t have any interest at all; they wanted to change the subject. So I had to find new friends who were also in business of some sort. And they certainly were a good help.”
4. Be careful with working with family members.
When you have your family members working with you, you need to make sure that they don’t abuse their power or do anything that would cause disagreement over at family dinner.
As much as possible, you need to separate your problems at home and in the office.
“For example I brought my son in, he’s the Vice President now and it would be really easy for him to abuse his authority… and money and personal things. But he knows because I’m with him almost every day, you got to be very responsible. And I tell him, ‘It’s like walking on a fence, you can fall off real easy.’ A little temptation to lean one way or the other you can fall off the fence.”
5. Surround yourself with believers.
We always have times that we think of ourselves as failures and during these times, we need someone to remind us of our strengths and capabilities.
“I think my wife has always believed in me. Everybody needs to have somebody, you know a friend, a leader or somebody who believes in you, cause there’s time when you begin to sometimes doubt yourself.”
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are a lot of people who will break your trust but there are also a handful of good people who will help you whenever you need it. You just have to find them.
“Sometimes, you feel alone but there’s a lot of people out there who’ll help you. You never have to be lonely and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
7. Keep going.
It took Andy Wells six months to come up with something that will help grow his business. So, experiment with things and strategies, but never give up.
“When I asked these people, ‘What are your goals?’ They say, ‘I just want to get through today.’ And unfortunately, sometimes, they self-medicate themselves in alcohol or drugs just to get through the day. And I always tell them, ‘There’s always a future for you.’ And if you want to be a successful person, we got to… develop it.”
8. Help others.
Like Andy Wells, you should be able to help others because no matter how many awards you get, there’s no greater reward than seeing someone achieve success through your help.
“Always do it in a sense of trying to help other people, not just yourself. Your mission should be to help other people, through your product or your service or sometimes just generosity.”
If you want to learn more on how Andy Wells III transformed his business from $1,400 to $90M, then be sure to click the resources below. You can also visit the GovCon Giant website or the new GovCon Edu where you learn everything about government contracting!
037: From $1,400 to $90M Eric interviews Andy Wells, Wells Technology
From $1,400 to $90M!! Stands for more than money!