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Intro: Welcome to the Smart Energized Entrepreneurs Podcast with JP Stonestreet, episode #19.
JP: In today’s podcast episode, Garry Seaber joins us from IT Liquidators. He is the CEO and founder of that company and the company specializes in helping other companies get rid of their old unused electronic and technical equipment. They help them do it in a safe and secure way, you can either sell it or recycle it, they kind of handle all that for you, make it very easy for you. The last thing you want to do is allow your technical equipment to be tampered with by somebody that gets it on Craigslist or at a recycling center and IT Liquidators make sure that all that data is wiped clean before it gets recycled or sold. But before we get into Garry’s interview today, I do want to mention again that I am hosting a series of Business Energizer events. The first one is coming up on March 11, 2014, and it is the Wantrepreneur Energizer. If you are thinking about starting a business, but don’t know what business to start then that is the event you need to go to. So, you can RSVP on my Meetup page and you can get there by going to JPStonestreet.com/meetup and it will redirect you to my Meetup group, which is called Smart Energized Entrepreneurs just like the podcast. So, I really hope that you sign up for one of the events that’s upcoming. I hope to see you there. I would love to see you there and make sure and tell me that you heard about it on the podcast. So, without further ado, here is Garry Seaber.
Welcome Garry to this episode of the Smart Energized Entrepreneurs Podcast, how are you?
Garry: Doing great, thank you.
JP: Yes, I am glad that you are able to make the show. You and I met at a 3to5 Club meeting and I actually interviewed Brad Nicol few days ago for this podcast.
JP: Yes, so we will talk a little bit about 3to5 Club too. I would like to get your opinion about that as well.
JP: But let’s first start out with – just tell us about your background and about your business IT Liquidators.
Garry: Sure. My background – I didn’t become an entrepreneur for about 20 years. I graduated from UCLA economics major, went to work for IBM at a college as a systems engineer and then an account manager. I was with them for about 7 years and then an old friend of mine decided to startup his own computer technology leasing company. So, he called me and said “Hey, Garry you got to come work for me.” I said “Mark, there is no way; I work for IBM and I am going to be here forever and I am going to retire here.” Anyway, he pursued me and I ended up accepting a job with him at the leasing company and we basically were in the business of leasing high technology equipment to major corporations around the country as well as selling, buying, and selling used IBM, primarily IBM Mainframe equipment and that relationship with the leasing company, I was there for 14 years and became the Vice President and that’s really when the entrepreneurial bug hit me and I realized “Hey, I really have a lot of skills and I have a lot of expertise that I have developed over the years, I think I can do this on my own.” So, that’s kind of how I became an entrepreneur and I encourage everyone to do it at some point in their life for sure.
JP: Yes, it is a lot of fun. Not everybody is cut out for it unfortunately, but a lot of people are cut out for it and just aren’t doing it for a myriad of reasons.
JP: It’s my goal in life is to help them figure out what those reasons are and get over it, so they can get their own business started. So, let’s talk about your company that you started, IT Liquidators.
Garry: IT Liquidators, I started back in 2004 and basically originally I was in the business of just using my wholesale contacts for computer technology that I would buy equipment from them and I would turn around and I would call on primarily clients here in Denver and companies and sell them used computer and technology, but then one day I had customers that called and said, “I got good news and bad news – bad news is we are closing our doors, good news is we have 32 racks of computer equipment we got to get rid of.” So, I ended up buying all that equipment and obviously that was a very financially beneficial transaction and really realized I need to be focused on helping corporations, medium and large corporations handle their end-of-life technology. So, I re-branded under the ITLiquidators.com brand and name and so today we consider ourselves a managed IT asset disposition company with the focus on IT asset recovery. I know that’s a mouthful, but really what that means is for corporations as they get bigger, they end up with a lot of technology on a very regular basis. So, what we do is we try and encourage them not to just go ahead and recycle right away, we encourage them to have us value that equipment, the end-of-life equipment and we will buy that equipment that has resale value and then we will bring it in, we will refurbish it and we will resale it online. So, that’s kind of our business model and we are having a lot of fun and we are doing great.
JP: That is great. You have quite a few employees, right?
Garry: Not quite a few. I have 6 currently, but for many years, I was just a one-man show, but I finally through – and we can talk about 3to5 Club a little bit later, but through that organization it really helped me realize “Hey, I have got a business model that I can grow” and so, yes, it’s been a great journey the last couple of years since we have been coming to growth mode.
JP: That’s great. As I was telling Brad Nicol about what I do is that I try and help people make that transition from employee to entrepreneur and then I think that once they have made that transition then they are ready for the 3to5 Club setting. That’s not what I do; 3to5 Club focuses on the 3 to 5 year timeframe. My goal is to get people through the first year because that’s the hardest part of entrepreneurship is that first year.
Garry: It is and it’s not even the first year, it’s making the decision to become an entrepreneur and to work for yourself. That was the hardest. I waited 20 years to make that decision and people all around me were saying “Garry you got to do it, you have got the skills” and I was “I question myself.” So, there are demons that can be in your head that are saying “Oh, you can’t do this,” but the reality is – and this is part of what I consider my four don’t be afraids is – one of them is to become an expert in your field and that might take time, but it will pay off in spades after you develop that expertise because you will be able to become an entrepreneur and move through the minefield of growing your business quickly because of your expertise you have developed.
JP: Yes, the expertise is absolutely critical in whatever it is that you are doing and that’s what one of the things I tell people when they are trying to figure out what business to start as I tell them to start a business around something that you already know because it’s hard to start a business. There are a lots of things that go into it and if you are trying to learn the business in the industry while you are doing it, it’s just you’ve doubled your learning curve.
JP: Yes, so let’s back up a little bit to the business that you had before IT Liquidators, your very first business. What as it called?
Garry: It was called – it is Network Systems Resellers and IT Liquidators is kind of like doing business as under the Network Systems Resellers company name.
JP: Okay. Why did you decide to start that business specifically?
Garry: Well that business had a little bit different model than buying excess technology from companies which is what we are doing now. I was really more selling high quality used equipment technology, telephone systems, servers, storage arrays, networking gear, PCs, laptops. I was selling that equipment to end user clients here in Denver. So, it’s still the same model of going to the end user clients or corporations in the Denver area, but it was selling them equipment and so what happened was as I had a whole national network of wholesalers that dealt in refurbished and refurbishing equipment that I developed with the leasing company because at the leasing company we would lease technology and just like a car, at the end of the lease they could return the technology to the leasing company, but you got to remember my guys that started Pacific Rim were finance guys. So, they needed to find a home for that equipment if that was returned and that’s where I came in, is I help find homes for that equipment through the wholesalers. So, long story short, I had all these relationships. So, when I went out on my own, I felt like I know where to source the equipment, I know how to buy it at a good price, I am a great salesman and so, I can go out and sell them to these end user clients here in Denver and sell them high quality refurbished equipment as a way to save money.
JP: Great, so you answered my next question already which was how much experience did you have specifically relating to your business before you started and you worked in that business. You had connections – you had, like you said, you had connections nationally for wholesalers. That is so important and one of the big reasons why I think you have been so successful with your business is because you weren’t starting from scratch. You already had a game plan and some players already lined up before you made that transition.
Garry: Yes and I would also say there was one other key ingredient is my IBM experience where I went through IBM training, which was 14 months long and they trained me to be a sales representative. So, the sales skills gave me the confidence once I had the wholesale relationships. So, I knew where to buy, I knew how to sell. So, I felt like I can do this and that’s what made me finally hit that tipping point where I said I am going to go out on my own and do my own thing and I have never looked back, couldn’t be happier. I am so much more happy to be on my own, have the flexibility in time with my family and all that. So, it was well worth the move. It was scary at first, but in a week we have gotten through it and it’s been fantastic.
JP: That’s great. I love that that you are a success story and you are the type of story that I use a lot to encourage people to do this because if you do it right, you can be successful and experience that personal and financial freedom that comes with being an entrepreneur, a successful entrepreneur.
JP: So, if you could think way back to when you first started, how did you get your first five customers?
Garry: Well believe it or not, I literally just started cold calling over the phone which I had been trained to do at IBM and also at the leasing company and I wasn’t afraid to make a phone call and people were willing to listen and I think the one little tidbits that might help a lot of the listeners is when you make a phone call into a company, just ask for their help because people want to help. So, for instance I would call in and I would kind of get into the higher echelon like the Chief Financial Officer or the Chief Information Officer. So, my strategy was just to call the President’s office or the Chairman’s office and that sounds a little scary, but to be honest with you, obviously 99 out of 100 times that CFO or CIO probably won’t pick up the phone, it will be their assistant, but that assistant’s job is to basically introduce or handle any calls coming in. So, I would call and just introduce myself and say “Hey, you know, I really need your help. Here’s what I do, we sell high quality refurbished equipment, who should I be talking to specifically?” And they would – 9 times out of 10, “Oh, you want to talk with Jim Smith” and I would ask “What’s his title?” “Oh he is the IT director” and “What’s his extension?” and they would give me the extension number and then the last question would be “Would you mind transferring me?” So, now when they transfer me to the IT director, they just see that it’s ringing and seeing it’s coming either from the President’s office or the CIO’s office or the CFO’s office and what do they do?
Garry: They pick up the phone.
JP: Yes, that is brilliant. I hope people are writing this down. Direct the call, write this down. Pullover to the side of the road, write this down. This is brilliant for cold calling. That’s brilliant and I owned a cold calling business. We sold sales leads and we had a team of cold callers and that’s all they did and I have never heard of that that strategy of transfer me, calling the President and then saying transfer me, so that that shows up on who am I calling. That’s brilliant – that is truly brilliant.
Garry: These people are just like you and I. They are just a person that has a job and they are interested in helping and solving problems, right? So, there is no reason why you shouldn’t call and get direction from the highest person. There is absolutely no reason and don’t be afraid and if you are not afraid, you would be surprised at what happens.
JP: Yes, that’s really good advice. All right so, let’s fast forward now. Let’s talk about your current company or the current version of your company IT Liquidators. What are your most effective marketing tools and techniques now for where you are now?
Garry: Well, it’s still a combination of cold calling, I still do that today and I have been in business 10 years and it’s always a great way because you can obviously get good contacts right away, but things have changed. I will tell you that it’s a lot harder to have people pick up the phone and so a lot of that has to be with leaving voicemail messages, there are emails, will be a followup to that introduction and we are also using a lot of online techniques through our website, through whitepapers and case studies that we are just now rolling out on the ITLiquidators.com website to help educate our clients on the best practices within end-of-life technology. So we are really – because of the years of experience, I really want to educate companies on “Hey what are the best practices in IT asset recovery.” I didn’t even realize I can make money and I am showing of how they can make money on those end-of-life computer equipment instead of just sending it right to a recycler who charges them to take it away whereas I am going to buy it from them, I am going to write them a check. So, that’s a big part of how we are marketing and so that’s primarily how we are doing it today.
JP: So, that’s given you the wedge in the door.
Garry: Yes, the market has changed. It’s not just call, introduce yourself, people are always receptive – they are not going to always be receptive. So, you almost have to become – with your expertise be that voice for your expertise, help other executives understand your value proposition and help educate them so that they can turn around and bump up your strategy to management and so you really become a valued and trusted advisor in the sense that you are really helping them lower their costs, increase their revenues, streamline their operations. So, you are touching upon the financial side, the business side, and the operation side, and if you can create that education, people are going to – of course they are going to use you because you just helped them implement this new program that’s going to bring money back into the IT budget, it’s going to help them, we are going to wipe all the hard drives and all the data on the machines we get from them and give them a certificate of data destruction which then protects them from data getting out and being used unethically and then we will also make sure that their equipment is recycled by certified ethical recycler. So, we are doing a lot of brand liability and brand protection to be honest with you and we are also giving them a strategy of reuse or sustainability through remarketing which a lot of companies are really focused on that sustainability and corporate stewardship with the environment and it’s such a great thing if we can reuse equipment or even donate the equipment for them and be much – we can really help them become a good steward of the environment.
JP: Yes, and one of the nice things about what you guys do, you just touched on this is that you do data destruction too. So, when you get in a computer or a copy machine, I assume you do copy machines too, right?
JP: Yes, so you wipe the hard drives on those so that all the data is destroyed.
Garry: Yes, we have a very sophisticated software system that wipes it to various – like Department of Deference and NSA, Army, Navy all these different certifying bodies. They have certified this software as software that can wipe the drives clean so there is no chance of any remaining data being left on the drives, the hard drives. Then we give them an actual certificate that transfers liability from them to us.
JP: Okay, that’s good and I am assuming you have a big insurance policy to cover that.
Garry: We do, we sure do. It’s expensive, but it’s definitely well worth it to not only protect us, but to protect our clients.
JP: Yes, that’s a great service. I have an ancient desktop sitting next to my desk right here collecting dust and the only reason I haven’t gotten rid of it is because there is a lot of data on it that I don’t want necessarily, although I haven’t even fired the thing up in four years, who knows it even still works, but that’s the big issue for me. I know there is data on there because it used to be my main computer, what do I do with that?
Garry: Can I tell you?
Garry: Okay, so this will be great for the listeners too is – there is a software product that’s free that’s online. If you go to www.dban.org – it’s called Darik’s Boot and Nuke software – DBAN.
Garry: Yes, DBAN.org and so it’s freeware. You go on the website, you can download that software and create a bootable CD or DVD, so then you would basically go into the BIOS tell it to look at the DVD or CD first, it will boot up and then it says “Do you want to wipe your hard drive?” You say “Yes.” You hit “Enter” and away it goes. It will take you – if you have like a 40 gig drive, probably take you about 30 minutes. If you have a 2 terabyte drive, it will probably take you 48 hours.
JP: Great, I will put a link to that on the show notes page for this podcast.
Garry: Yes, it will be a good resource.
JP: I know, I got to figure out and see if I even have a keyboard for that thing anymore.
Garry: Yes, the other thing I want to mention to listeners is that on July 1, 2013, Colorado came out with a new legislation called The Jobs and Recycling Act. Of course, they had to put the “Jobs” in there so that they could get the bill passed, but anyway, the main thing that came out was that now not only businesses and associations, but residential customers can no longer deposit any electronic waste into their recycle bins or trashcans. If they do, there is up to 10,000 dollar fine.
JP: Wow! I am assuming that’s depending on how bigger the disposal.
Garry: Or how much material.
Garry: Yes, so the only thing that they can throw away is they can throw away cell phones with a 4-inch or smaller display. If it’s anything over 4-inches diagonal on the cell phone, they can’t.
JP: So, do you work with individuals like for this big desktop that I have, is that something that you take or do you have some place that you recommend taking that?
Garry: No, I don’t work with individuals because I was to work with recycling material – we are not a recycler, we are remarketing company. Even though when we buy a bunch of equipment from a client, there is going to be material that has no resale value. So, we do an awful lot of recycling, but we are not a recycler. So, couple of things I can suggest. Most communities in Colorado with this passage of this law back on July 1, 2013, the communities and counties are required to have at least two recycle days a year, so that people can come in and drop off their equipment at one of these recycle events. So look through your community magazines and so forth or even online for your city, your county, and you will see the recycling events that come up and that’s where they want to just drop that equipment off at those events. That would be one way. The other one is, I would recommend two recycling companies Metech Recycling, they are down off of like 53rd Place I believe, just north of downtown and there is also R2 Solutions, which is in South Denver off of – R2 Stewards and that’s off of Broadway and I want to say Belleview Area, right on there.
JP: Okay, I will look those up and get their web addresses and put those on the show notes page as well.
JP: Great, thanks for that because it is hard to know what to do. I took a bunch of old electronic equipment to the Denver Biz Tech Expo that was at Lowry, couple of months ago, but I didn’t get rid of that desktop because I didn’t know how to wipe the data off of it and I didn’t feel like figuring it out.
Garry: Yes, one other way to virtually not wipe it but destroy the drive to a point where it would take some government to be able to get the data off is you could take – with the hard drive you could put four holes through the platters, just a square at each corner of the square basically just drill in and that will make it so that the drive can’t spin any longer for them to be able to try to get data off would be virtually impossible.
JP: Yes, that’s great advice too.
JP: Okay, so let’s talk more about your entrepreneurial journey now.
JP: What’s the most difficult challenge that you faced so far in your business and what did you do to overcome it?
Garry: Well, I would say the biggest obstacle was to hire – believe or not to hire my first employee because I think when we start our own business, we think “Oh, I am the only one that can do this, I am the only one that can run this company that can be this company” and there is a psychological barrier to hiring that first employee and I don’t know what it is, may be it’s loss of control or now picking up the responsibility of managing a person. So, if you don’t have any management experience that’s scary or can be – and that was kind of my biggest decision was to make my first hire and I did that – let’s say I started in 2004 and I hired my first employee in 2007. So, it took me three years and so I finally realized, “Garry, if I want to grow this business, I have got to have people offloading the things that either I don’t want to do or don’t have time to do” and I did exactly that and that’s started me on this journey and it’s been a blast. I love having people and creating a culture – we are all geeks here at IT Liquidators and we love what we do, we love being geeks, we love technology and so it’s great creating that culture where we can all embrace that and we know we are making a difference through reuse and refurbishment and resale versus just scraping it and having stuffs go to landfills or that kind of thing. So, don’t be afraid to make your first hire even if it’s part-time and that’s what a lot of people do is start, start small, hire somebody as a virtual assistant and give them projects and you will see your business advance faster and you will grow and make more money if you do.
JP: Yes because it frees you up to do the stuffs that you do really well, like generating business.
Garry: Exactly, exactly.
JP: When you are not busy doing mundane things that you shouldn’t be doing.
JP: Yes, that’s such an important advice for entrepreneurs. If you want to go from a solopreneur to a true entrepreneur that means you have to get help and it’s so much easier today than it used to be. In 2007, outsourcing wasn’t nearly as easy as it is today with Elance and Guru and oDesk and all of those websites, it’s so easy to find a virtual assistant. Even if – they could be overseas, you could also – I would just set a networking event over lunch and there is somebody there that does virtual assistant type stuff, only I guess it is physical assistant, but it’s part-time assistant work, she helps you out in doing things. Also, you can find somebody local, you can find somebody. I have somebody in India that does transcription for me, I have a developer in Indonesia, I have a graphics guy in the Philippines. I used to have a social media manager in India, but I had to fire him. It just wasn’t working out. He is a good guy and I liked him, but it just wasn’t working out as far as – he wasn’t posting all the things that I wanted posted. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and that’s the worst part. Have you had to fire somebody?
Garry: Definitely and those are all great learning experiences you learn as you go, but a hint there for people is “long to hire, quick to fire.” So, take your time in hiring people that you bring on board, make sure they understand who you are, where you want to go, what you want to – what your vision is. People want to work for people that they believe in their vision and so, you want to find the right person not only the right employee, but the right job for that employee. So, take your time in hiring, don’t rush and wait until you go “this is the guy.” You will make mistakes I promise, but again it’s something that you learn as you go and you will make better hiring decisions as you go, but then secondly if there are things that are just not working with an employee – we all believe in second chances and I tend to probably keep it be long, too long, but I think the key is be quick to fire and move on and find the right employee for the right job.
JP: Just accept the fact that it’s going to be hard and uncomfortable and you are going to hate every second of it, but you just have to do it. We had to let a woman go one time and she cried. It was the worst experience of my employment career having to let a woman go that cried.
JP: It was awful. It was the right business decision and to be honest it was the right decision for her. She was just not good at the job we hired her to do.
Garry: Right and that’s funny you say that because that’s what I believe. I believe that ultimately people want to be in the job where they feel they are making the biggest contribution and they are actually loving their job. So, if you feel like somebody is not working out, they know they are not really working out or they are not happy and because they are not happy, they are not being productive. So the bottom line is at the end of the day, you are actually doing them a favor and in turn you are doing yourself a favor. So, don’t be afraid. It will all workout and it usually happens that way, something seems traumatic and “Oh gosh, I had to let her go and him go,” but then you hear they are doing great at some other position. So, there is nothing wrong with that.
JP: Yes, you just have to accept that it’s going to be difficult and they may not realize, in fact, they most likely won’t realize it’s the best thing for them at the moment, but eventually they will and you just have to trust that the process will work itself out.
Garry: Right, exactly.
JP: Owning a business, as you and I both know, can be stressful at times. So, what do you do in your business when you are stressed out? How do you cope with the stress of owning your own business?
Garry: Great question. I usually either get on my motorcycle or my bicycle and ride, but really the best thing to do when I get stressed out is that tells me that I am conflicted with a decision and it usually comes down that there is a decision that’s making me stressed out. I know I need to make it, but I am not sure if I should or whatever and what I do is I surround myself with other business owners and this is really important because I didn’t learn this right away, but I learned the power of a group, a power of decision making in a group and that’s why I joined the 3to5 Club which is an organization that in essence helps you build your business, so that in three to five years, you cannot only have money, but time, and time is the new money and this new millennial generation, they want time – like they want to decide when they want to work at what times. They might want to work at midnight, but anyway surrounding myself with other business owners and be able to share honestly and openly my struggles is such a – it’s so powerful because then you get validation or you validation either to move forward or not to make that decision and may be people are saying “No, you should be doing this and here is why.” So, don’t be a lone island in the middle of the ocean which I was for like what – for almost eight years, is I never engaged in groups to help me grow my business and 3to5 changed everything.
JP: Yes, it can be lonely at the top, especially if you are the only one in the company and it’s so important to surround yourself with other – with the support network and don’t try and do it in a vacuum.
Garry: JP you are a great example. People can – you’ve got this entrepreneurial skills and you help companies to – individuals come into that entrepreneurship and with your expertise you are an excellent example of resource that they can use to come to you and say “Hey, I am kind of struggling with this, I am thinking about hiring somebody, what do you think?” So, you are a great example.
JP: Thank you and I am in the process of creating a mastermind for people that want to make that transition or who are in the very early stages of becoming an entrepreneur, launching their new business and that way – because it’s different, the people at 3to5 are established businesses. You guys are facing different problems than somebody who is just thinking “Well, what business should I start?” or “I got my business cards, does that mean I am in business?”
Garry: Right, exactly.
JP: Those are different problems. Those problems are how do I get my first client, how do I get my first sale and it’s different and that’s why I am not sure that 3to5 is a great fit for people that are in that stage of the business.
Garry: You are right. It’s usually somebody that has been in business for a couple of years and they might be still doing the business just for themselves and then there are others that might have 8 to 10 employees. So, you are right. That’s just what – I guess I didn’t have an access to somebody like you or a mastermind because there are a lot of different organizations out there, but I just kind of built it up to the point where 3to5 was a good fit for me, but you are right, for starting entrepreneurs, mastermind is good and there is obviously your organization.
JP: That’s my goal is to help create a group of people that can support each other through this process and then also bring in other people. That’s one of the reasons why I am interviewing you and other people like Brad, people who have been doing it for a while. So, you guys can share your wisdom with people and it’s also it’s really nice to know that they are not going through it alone that you’ve been through this and you are sharing your story with them and that it’s just part of the process is what they are going through is just part of it.
JP: So, it’s great to have people like you that are willing to share your stories and give advice.
Garry: Yes and I will just encourage people to be willing to take risk and believe in yourself because how can you really – if you really want to have control of your own destiny, you have to take risk and if you believe in yourself that gives you the confidence and hopefully you have a support of spouse or partner and you got to take the risk and if you don’t take the risk, you can’t get the rewards.
JP: Yes, that’s definitely true, although that’s a whole different debate, but our country doesn’t really think that way anymore, but I still do. All right, what is your favorite aspect of owning your own business?
Garry: See, my business is at the point now where if I take 9 days and go on a trip, I come back, it’s making money and that’s the freedom I think ultimately every entrepreneur wants is that freedom that you can build a business that is making you money, but giving you time and at this point in my life I want time, I want time with family, I want time to travel, I want time to do the things that are important to me, so that I can get back to the community and just do things that I want to do because I have been working all my life. We all work 40 hours a week, 60 hours a week – I am 53 and at this point, there is more to life for me as I want that freedom and I am there in my – can I take off three months a year? No. But I have a lot of flexibility to come in little later, leave a little early, may be take the day off and for me that’s what I love about having my own business and being an entrepreneur.
JP: I totally relate to that. I love that part of it too. That’s probably my favorite part, it’s the time aspect. So, what in your business is not working for you right now? That’s a tough question, I know, but I have to ask some tough ones.
Garry: That’s a good question. I think what hasn’t been working for us is the web and trying to use the web as a resource to bring customers to us and so we have just invested over the last couple of months in our website and really redoing it and making it much more of an educational tool to really help folks that are looking for ways to recoup value from their assets. Like on our website in the upper right it says “What’s my equipment worth?” You can submit a request with your equipment list or we can come onsite if you are in California or Denver and do evaluation of corporate technology that folks have sitting in a room or somewhere. So, we are trying to really make the web and our website very friendly, very usable, and we will engage people and help them become educated so that when they do have equipment, they know who to call.
JP: Okay, so you are in Denver and California – what part of California?
Garry: Yes, my brother-in-law is running IT Liquidators our there. He has got a warehouse and offices. So, he is doing what I am doing out there and so, we can do onsite valuations out in Los Angeles and Denver. If it is not, if it is outside of that area – because we do business nationwide, people can send in their equipment list and we have a spreadsheet they can download from the website that they can fill out with all the equipment details so that we can properly value their excess technology.
JP: Great, okay. Do you have any plans to open other offices in other cities?
Garry: Yes, my ultimate desire is to not franchise, but partner with an IT executive in other cities around the country and we’ve really done a great job here of process mapping all of our procedures and operating procedures from the refurbishing to selling online to our accounting so that we can help somebody get up and running. We already have the brand; they just need a warehouse space and have the ability to and the desire to go after corporations in their town. We have the infrastructure mapped out. So, that will be the easiest part of the thing, but yes to be basically partner with other folks around different cities around the country and grow the brand and make this a really great place to work.
JP: That’s awesome. I love that you have that vision. The other thing is you have been in it 10 years, you could very easily become complaisant with your success, but you are thinking ahead, you are still working on growing it to the next level, it’s great.
Garry: Yes, I think that’s really where we want to be and it makes a lot of sense.
JP: All right do you have – you are in 3to5 which is a kind of a mentoring organization in a way or coaching organization, but do you have an individual coach or mentor that you work with?
Garry: I have a couple of great friends that are business owners and we tend to have lunch on a regular basis and again, these two gentlemen that I meet with on a very regular basis, both have their own businesses and we really know each others businesses really well and so they are kept abreast of what I am doing and so, again just another resource that I can turn to on a regular basis to give me the encouragement and validate or invalidate what I think my next step should be and I can’t stress that enough, don’t be a loner out there, get involved with yourself or in some type of organization where you can really share ideas and help each other grow your business.
JP: Yes, that’s really important to ask for help, to not be afraid to say “I don’t know; I need help.”
JP: Okay, it’s a little bit of a personal question. I haven’t asked anybody this one yet, but it just kind of struck me. It’s that – as you are going through the process of kind of making that entrepreneurial transition, did you see that you started spending less time with some people and more time with other people, did you see any kind of a shift in that on your personal and professional life?
Garry: That’s an interesting question. Yes, I think as I became a business owner, it’s a whole different ballgame, it’s not you are not an employee anymore and when you are an employee, it’s typically you put in your hourage, you come home, you can separate yourself, distance yourself from work and have that division between work and home life and friends and when you become an entrepreneur and I think it’s healthy that you are constantly thinking about the business. My mind is always going and I will see something on the news and it will trigger a thought or an idea which I will write down. So, it can become consuming, but you want to make sure you have your priority straight, which it could be faith, it could be family and then work, whatever it might be, is make sure you can keep at least some separation, especially if you work out of your home, which I did for three years, is when you come out of the office, you got to come out of the office, close the door and you are done. You can’t go back in, only until 8 in the morning, you are not in the morning. So, just make sure you keep the family and the other things that are important in your life prioritized and be willing to do that everyday.
JP: Yes, the balance is really important.
Garry: The balance, yes.
JP: So, you were married when you started your business?
JP: How did your wife deal with that? Was she supportive of your entrepreneurial dream?
Garry: Definitely. She has been a rock, absolute rock. She basically said “Garry I trust you, I trust that you know you can do it and I believe in you” and she has been phenomenal. It’s so important and I think Robin is little unique in that aspect. She is an encourager, but other folks, may be their spouses or whatever, they might be more gun shy and thinking of the risk, but Robin is willing to take the risk and it’s been a lot, it really has.
JP: That’s great, it’s so important to have the support of your family, they have to – I wrote about that in my book that you have to – they have to buy into it 110 percent because there is no such thing as a non-family business. Every business that every entrepreneur owns is a family business because whether they work in it or not they are living it, eating it, and breathing it along with you and if they are not in support of it, it’s going to be really, really hard on the business and on your relationship.
Garry: Yes, we actually took a vote and this is kind of interesting because we lived – when I was with the leasing company, we were in Southern California and so part of the decision to start my own company was to move to Denver because we all had loved Denver, we thought it would be a great place to live. So, we actually, the two – my two daughters voted and it as 4-0. So, I got everybody’s buy-in before I ultimately pulled the trigger and once that vote went down, we never looked back and it’s been great, it’s been a great journey.
JP: Another kind of personal question, but how did you support yourself and your family while you were starting this because a lot of people they use that as an excuse like “Oh I have a family, I can’t afford to do anything like that right now.” So, how did you do it, how did you float that?
Garry: To be honest with you, coming from Southern California, we have been very successful at real estate, just we seemed to move every two or three years and we just kind of moved up and so, we definitely had a nest egg in place that gave us that room to be able to be without an income for six months kind of thing. So, it gave me time to get set and get rolling and allowed us to kind of make it through that start up period.
JP: The other nice thing about that is that you kind of had a deadline which I am sure it lit a fire.
Garry: Oh yes.
JP: You burned the ships basically. You moved to Denver, started your new business and you had a limited amount of time to be successful and that is burning the ships. You were not looking back at that point.
Garry: Yes, I was motivated, let’s put that way.
JP: Yes and do you know what? You really have to be. If you are not motivated then it’s really hard to do what you have to do, especially if you are trying to start a business on the side while you are working your day job, which I encourage people to keep their day job at least until they have a buffer, the debt paid down and the savings built up and then I am all for chucking it – quit your job and do it full time because that will pressure you into being successful.
Garry: Right and I should probably qualify that point I made earlier about don’t be afraid to take the risk. Don’t be able to – don’t be afraid to take educated risk, I guess is probably a better way to put it.
JP: Calculated risk.
Garry: Yes, a calculated risk. You don’t want to put your family – all of sudden you are on the streets kind of thing, you obviously got to do a lot of planning, but it’s part of believing yourself though, it’s ultimately what’s going to give you the freedom to really enjoy what you do. I got to tell you, I am happier than ever. Really, I am just having more fun than ever too because I am doing what I love and there is nothing like it.
JP: Yes, it’s so neat to hear you say that, it really is. It’s inspiring. Okay, so is there someone or something that inspires you, like a person or it could be an institution, a book, could be anything?
Garry: I have a very strong faith which definitely motivates me and I have got that power behind me. So, my faith is really I think given me lot of the courage to make this decision and friends have been super supportive, of course my family they are the best. So, I think if you surround yourself with those people that can make a difference in your life or through your faith, it really helps you to move and get things done and feel good about the decision and yes, so I am not sure that answers your question, but…
JP: Yes, it does, it’s important to have something that’s bigger than you to help push you along whatever that is for you. For some people, it’s faith; for other people, it’s their children, it could be a combination, could be anything. It just important to have something that kind of inspires you because it’s hard to just do it just because.
Garry: Yes, exactly.
JP: Is there a book that you can recommend, one that may be influenced you or that you really enjoyed?
Garry: Actually Chuck Blakeman’s book is really great and…
JP: Which one?
Garry: He has written two books and I think it’s Building Your – what is it 3to5 Club – it’s Making Money Is Killing Your Business.
Garry: It sounds kind of weird like “What do you mean making money is killing your business?” But if you read it, it’s a great read and it’s definitely designed for entrepreneurs who are either looking to start their business and how to build their business and how to structure your business, it’s an excellent book.
Garry: He is right here in Colorado. He is a Colorado author.
JP: Yes, I know. It’s neat, isn’t it? Brad Nicol actually recommended the same book when I asked this question and I have read part of it, it is the part that I have read is really good and it’s on my list, I have got four books going right now. I always have lots of books in process.
JP: So, looking back from where you are right now, would you do anything differently?
Garry: I would have hired my first employee a lot sooner because you can’t grow your business unless you have employees. You can grow it, but only to a certain point because there is only so much of the entrepreneur. So, I waited way too long to hire my first employee and I regret it, to be honest with you.
JP: Yes, I feel the same way. That’s the mistake that I have made more than once unfortunately, but it is, it’s so important and it’s a risk. That’s the reason why we put it off, it is the loss of control, the thing that “we could just do it, I can just do it myself” and you also think “Well I don’t want to spend the time training somebody how to do this, I will just do it,” but then it’s also that fear of now I have another mouth to feed to make sure I can make payroll and pay this person and if I am paying then then I am not paying myself. So, it is kind of a risk, but you can’t win monopoly without buying real state.
Garry: Yes, and there are ways to mitigate that risk, like my first employee I hired and he was at 100 percent commission. So, he only got paid when he sold equipment that he refurbished and then sold online. So, there are ways to kind of make that – I mean it was great for him because as he got really good, he started making some great money, but then of course I was making great money too because he was creating revenue that I didn’t have before and so I was paying him and could afford to pay him as I went along because he was at 100 percent commission. So, there are ways to mitigate that first employee either part-time or on commission basis, give him a percentage of the business, that kind of thing.
JP: Yes, you can be creative to solve that problem.
JP: As long as you have to admit that it’s a problem first. All right, last question Garry. This has been a fantastic interview and I know you had some lessons that you want – advice that you want to give, parting advice to our entrepreneurs who are listening. So, what suggestions do you have for entrepreneurs?
Garry: Well I think I have covered them all, but I will just do a review. So, I call them my four don’t be afraids. Number one is don’t be afraid to become an expert in your field. So, you might think “Oh I want to be an entrepreneur when I am 21.” You could and you might be extremely successful, but even if you are – I was 40 – let’s see what was I? – I was 43 when I started the business. So, I was kind of later in life, but that expertise gave me that springboard to make it and to be successful because I was able to – I had the resources, I had the skills, I had the contacts to make it. Number two would be don’t be afraid to take risks and believe in yourself. Ultimately, it comes down to “Do you believe that you can make it work and that you can make it happen?” And if you do, I would very much encourage you to take the risk, make sure you also surround yourself with good people, family, friends, advisors. Number three is don’t be afraid to surround yourself with business owners and so that would be number three and then number four is don’t be afraid to hire your first employee.
JP: Those are great things, great four things and I think I might put those four things on the show notes page so that people can read them too because that’s great advice, all four of those are great parting advice for entrepreneurs, especially new entrepreneurs when they are just starting out, those really apply to new entrepreneurs.
JP: So, perk your ears up if you are a new entrepreneur listening to this. This is for you. All right, Garry, this has been a fantastic interview. I really appreciate your time.
Garry: You bet JP. Thanks for having me. It’s been fantastic.
JP: Yes, it’s fun to hear your story and you are definitely an inspiration because you have done it, you were an employee for a long time and you took that step and made that transition to entrepreneur in your 40s, that’s a lot of the people I work with are in their 40s and it’s possible and you proved that it’s possible.
Garry: Yes, it is. It’s never too late and it’s a lot of fun.
JP: Yes, great. Garry, I will talk to you soon and I will let you know as soon as this is posted on the website and then you can share it with everybody.
Garry: Sounds great JP. I appreciate the opportunity.
JP: Great, thanks Garry.
Garry: Okay, take care.
JP: I absolutely love hearing the origin stories of entrepreneurs, don’t you? It’s fascinating to see how people got their start and one thing I really liked about Garry’s story is that he kind of made a seamless transition, well somewhat seamless, as seamless as it can be. He went from doing a business or working in a job doing something very similar, similar contacts, and he just kind of stepped into a business doing something very similar. That makes it a lot easier if you already know your business and your industry, you already have connections in that industry, it makes your job so much easier. So, if you are thinking about starting a business, do yourself a favor and choose a business that something that you already know really well. It will just make your life so much easier and your odds of success will be so much greater. So, I hope you enjoyed that podcast interview as much as I did. Garry is a fantastic guy to talk to and check out his website at ITLiquidators.com. I will put links to all of the things we talked about in this episode on the show notes page at JPStonestreet.com/podcasts. You can find the show notes for this episode there. Just look for Garry Seaber’s name. I think that’s it for this episode. I will see you next time. This is JP Stonestreet with the Smart Energized Entrepreneurs Podcast.