Ed Meyer is an Idaho entrepreneur who has discovered that passion is an important contributor to becoming a successful business owner.
(article continues below)
He started his pest control company with a small loan, and he's been on a roll ever since.
Tell me about your current business, Ed. What are you doing exactly?
Meyer Industries manufactures a pest control product named the "Rodenator".
We manufacture and market the Rodenator to the world via website, field service reps, and international distributors.
Where is your business located?
When did you start the business?
2001. I started my company as a sales consultant to my father's company that sold a similar product. In 2003 the company I worked for as a sales consultant closed its doors at which time I changed my focus from sales to manufacturing and sales.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Prior to this I had a business in North Idaho where I rented jet skis in the summer time and snowmobiles in the winter. This gave me my first real taste of the importance of outstanding customer service. I was catering to an upscale clientele that demanded the best, and I gave it to them. One cold summer and a warm winter put an end to H2O & SNOW, but I learned some valuable lessons that I have been able to apply to my current business.
Where did you get the startup money?
My startup money came from my accountant. He watched me working with the other company that my father owned and saw my passion for the product. He knew that I could be a success with this business if I had a little start up cash, so he lent me $50,000.00 for six months. I repaid him with interest and have been able to stay debt free since then.
That's the best way to do it. So, who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
I manufacture a unique product and would not say that I have solid competition competing against me with a similar product. My main competition would be the traditional types of pest control like trapping and baiting with chemicals and poisons.
The Rodenator takes a clean approach using propane and oxygen combined within the pest animal's tunnel system, then the mix is ignited creating a concussive force that instantly and humanely kills the animal with no chemical residue left in the carcass of the animal or in the ground.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
I am an entrepreneur at heart and love to sell my product with passion. Owning a business is much more involved than just being on the sales end of things. My talent is selling, not managing.
I didn't go into this business with the expectations of running a business, rather promoting my product. Running a business is an entire different ball game than I had ever expected. Cash flow, Inventory, quarterly taxes, baby sitting your employees are all subjects that I had not given any thought too.
Luckily have been able to find some great people that are much better at those subjects than I am which frees me up to do what I love which is PR and selling my product.
What kept you motivated to keep going?
Growing up I had several different sales jobs selling knives door to door, water filters to my friends and family and different types of skin care. I hated sales, but that was the only thing I could find to make some good money not having any skills to offer society besides labor and sweat.
I really hated knocking on doors to sell something that didn't get me excited. How excited can you get when you are at someone's front door trying to sell a set of knives for $650.00? I always knew that if I could find the right product I could be a great sales man, but I just hadn't found the right product yet.
My background growing up was on a cattle ranch in rural Idaho. Every year when we cut our alfalfa gophers would leave big dirt mounds all over the fields that would slow the cutting process down and damage our equipment among other things. Sitting on a cutter for hours on end allows the mind to wonder off a little when Paul Harvey is not giving you the rest of the story on the AM radio overhead.
My thought was to get some real revenge on these little buggers that caused us so many headaches during harvest season. One day I had had enough and really had to do something about it so I grabbed our gas cutting torch and decided I would fill up the gopher tunnel with gas and set it off blowing the little gopher into the next life. I killed the gopher all right, and blew an opening in the ground about fifty feet long where the gopher had been tunneling.
I was shocked and hooked at the same time. My first reaction aside from it being an effective approach was the fun I had just had and the feeling of accomplishment. Over the next couple of years we make ourselves a finer tuned version of this new device for killing burrowing pests.
I realized that I needed to use propane and oxygen down the tunnel systems at the right mix to obtain a clean concussive force to do the job. I thought that there may be others that might enjoy what I was doing so I made up a few units and took them down to an Ag Expo to show the world. I got a lot of laughs at first that were discouraging, but I believed in what I was doing passionately.
That was many years ago and today I am not laughed at. I have kept my business close to home in a little town of 160 people in one of Idaho's most economically depressed counties. I serve as the city Mayor and feel that I am able to contribute in an area where any help is desperately needed.
Today I ship the Rodenator Pest Control line around the world, and have won Idaho's top exporting awards the last two years among other awards. I love what I am doing and my passion for it drives me through the days that are not so exciting.
That's an incredible story. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Oh ya, you can always say I should have done this or that differently, but the lessons I learned along the way as a startup company has saved my bacon now that the company is further along and doing well.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I put together a board of directors that has talents in all of the areas I lack. The Board has been instrumental in keeping my company organized and budgeted to run efficiently. There is no way I could have got to where I am now without their help.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Have passion for what you do and don't give up. There have been days when I wanted to run and hide. Sometimes I felt that it just isn't the frustration to own your own business when I could have a good job and be able to go home at night without thinking of the business. Now looking back at all of the frustrations I went through I realize that those frustrations taught me valuable lessons and make me appreciate what I have now more than ever.
Having a network of business owners to socialize with is important to me. As the Boss you can't discuss certain business matters with employees, they don't always understand things the way you perceive them. Having friends that are in the same position as you are is beneficial to you.
That's excellent advice for entrepreneurs out there, whether they are just getting started or are already in business. Thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience with us, and good luck in growing your business.