Our own home is one of the most prized possessions we shall own in our lives. The joy and satisfaction of acquiring a house through one’s own hard-earned money is a common dream shared by many all across the world. The security of our houses is thus a very important issue to deal with and you would not want to come back to a ransacked home as a result of faulty lock and alarm systems that you mhave installed. Alan Young realizes the importance of a secure house and having been on the receiving end of several break-ins decided to take matters in his own hand and launched Armor Concepts, LCC that develops and manufactures door security and repair products. That his security products are reliable is a fact that shall be testified by his 40,000+ clients all across the continent.
He speaks to us at eBrandz about his successful entrepreneurial journey and how his mother has played an important part in making him the man that he is.
Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business.
I am the CEO of Armor Concepts LLC, a company that develops, manufactures and distributes door security and repair products. The company is best known for its Door Jamb Armor and EZ Armor products which has been successfully installed on more than 40,000 doors. The company’s products have been featured on the CBS Early Show, NBC’s TODAY show, the Discovery Channel show, “It Takes a Thief”, HGTV, numerous local news segments and on countless radio shows, national magazines and newspapers. I have also given numerous talks to the police forces, police academies and homeowners associations on ways to improve the physical security of their homes. Armor Concepts’ products are sold nationally through Lowe’s, Grainger, Wilmar and numerous local hardware stores and locksmiths.
Kindly give us a brief description about yourself.
I completed my education at Vanderbilt University. I completed a Bachelor of Science degree with a dual major in Organizational Development and Economics in three years and then received my Masters of Business Administration from Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Management two years later. I was also a part of Vanderbilt’s football team during all five years in college, where I earned all-conference hours. I did pursue football professionally for a brief period of time and helped found ProQuest Sports Management, a financial planning firm for professional athletes. I later sold these interests to my partner and joined the Banc of America Securities as an investment banker. I remained at the BofA for eight years. I started flipping properties and after witnessing repeated break-ins on my properties I decided to launch the Armor Concepts.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
A number of years ago, we were renovating properties in some “transitional areas”. We were victims of the belief that alarms stop thieves and such other products that made false claims. Door Jamb Armor was designed by an engineer to stop doors on our properties from being kicked-in because nothing else worked. We never intended to sell anything. False security cost us dearly so you can always count on honest representation of what our solutions will or will not do. Our patented and proven solutions are today installed in countless apartment complexes and homes across the United States and Canada. We developed our EZ Armor and FIX-A-JAMB products in response to our customers wanting less expensive and easier to install options.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
1.Get experience first. You know a lot less than you think you do coming out of college.
- Things always take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think they will.
- There is no substitute for hard work and passion. If you don’t have these, you should think about a different path.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would focus more on developing relationships than simply on working hard. Success is often dictated by who you know.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Faith, tenacity and the ability to make connections are three essential skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Probably too long.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
12-14 hours a day.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
I do work far too much but I am able to leave whenever I want in order to attend special events.
What motivates you?
I’m a competitor by nature. I simply can’t stand the thought of not being successful.
How do you generate new ideas?Trust the process not the result.
I generate new ideas by constantly asking what can be done to improve what we are doing. We always communicate with out customers. Good customers will tell you what they would like to see changed or produced differently. These requests have turned into some of our most successful new product ideas.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Fear of failure. Everyone is afraid to fail. I always attack things head on, which is probably why I never sleep.
What are your ideals?
Believe and trust in God and he will direct your path. Treat people well because you never know who can help you and when.
How do you define success?
I define success as Being able to look yourself in the mirror and be happy with what you see.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
There are many people who shall discourage you more often than encouraging your endeavors. You must never stop believing in who you are or what you can accomplish. Be passionate about what you do and the people in your life. I have found that people who are not passionate about anyone are seldom passionate about anything. Never quit!
Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
I self-financed this company for 5 years before seeking outside capital. When I decided to raise capital, I reached out to a number of contacts in my college alumni network who put me in contact with some angel investor groups. Having a background in investment banking helped because I knew what they would be looking for. I think a lot of entrepreneurs have trouble because they don’t take the time to understand what investors are looking for before seeking capital. There are in fact several good books out there that can help in this area.
How do you build a successful customer base?
We have done a lot of trade shows and consistently follow-up with our customers.
How did you decide on the location for your business?
We just relocated our business to Nashville, Tennessee about a year ago from New Jersey. In Nashville, the cost of living and the taxes to be paid are much lower and it also has a more educated worker’s base. Operating here is considerably less expensive than in New Jersey. Apart from all of this, we just like the city of Nashville for raising a family and social life.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Trust the process not the result. Good luck can result in success once but not repeatedly. A great process will repeatedly lead to success.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My Mother. She drove me crazy as a child because she would never accept anything less than the best that I could deliver. As I have grown older, I have realized that you will never get anything more than what you expect, from yourself or others. As a result, I always push myself as much as possible and try to do the same with everyone around me.
Which is your favorite book?
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Control over success and failure. If you are successful you know because you are making money, if you are not you know because you go out of business. Your compensation is based on how well you perform, not by who may or may not like you, which is often the case in the corporate world.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Going into a store Lowe’s store and seeing our product in a display that is nearly empty.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Willingness to take risks and to deal with the total consequences of their actions. When you work for someone else, you spend your time complaining about everything that the “boss” does wrong. When you work for yourself, everything is your fault, so you spend time trying to figure out how to solve these problems and make things better rather than just complaining about them. Solving a problem is the easiest way to make more money.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Trusting others instead of my own instincts.
What makes you happy?
Seeing my kids smile makes me the happiest.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
I left a very lucrative job as an investment banker to start a company where I did not draw a salary for nearly 5 years. As an entrepreneur, I am generally the last person to get paid. As we became more successful though, the sacrifices became less and the benefits (become) greater.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
‘Under Armour’. This company entered a field where no one gave them a chance and they have ended up dominating a market with little that was proprietary or patented. They clearly demonstrate the power of great marketing.