Interview with Red Dog Shelters Owner, Mike Carmody

by | Feb 13, 2024 | Shelter

  • Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
    • Red Dog Mobile Shelters rents and sells portable commercial storm shelters. It can be used in commercial environments to protect workers from inclement weather. The shelters are strong enough to withstand F5 tornados.
    • Most of the team is located in Lubbock, Texas.
  • Kindly give us a brief description about yourself.
    • In college I was a math major and finance minor at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. Right out of college I worked at insurance companies as an actuary, learning valuable actuarial skills along with insights about companies.
    • I have always enjoyed education, so I have been involved with several education companies for both actuaries and CFA candidates. I have also owned many companies, including Red Dog Mobile Shelters.
    • Through my entrepreneurial activities, I have learned how to successfully begin and scale businesses. I have found that business management is quite similar, even if the particular good or service being sold is very different.
  • What inspired you to start a new business venture? How did the idea for your business come about?
    • When a friend of mine, Oscar Scott, showed me his design for an aerodynamically anchored tornado shelter, I was a first skeptical. But then I was amazed at his ingenuity. He harnessed the destructive power of the wind to actually aid in anchoring the shelter.
    • It’s a great piece of equipment to protect workers in remote environments. It’s also easy to move from site to site, staying with the workers.
  • What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
    • It is hard to narrow this down to just three pieces of advice, but I will give it a try:
      • First, make sure you are passionate about success.
        • That doesn’t mean you have to necessarily be passionate about the product or service. But you must have a strong will to succeed if you are going to make it.
        • Success can be measured in many ways, including financial gains, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. The definition of success is really personal to you and your business.
      • Second, be honest when making forecasts and decisions.
        • You can’t fall so much in love with your idea that you ignore warning signs along the way.
        • It’s good to get feedback from others that are not personally tied to the business. They can be more objective and impartial.
      • Third, learn how to effectively delegate.
        • You can’t do everything yourself, even if you want to.
        • And when you do delegate, don’t expect the person to do the task exactly like you would do it. Be flexible on the methodologies.
  • What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
    • To be a successful entrepreneur, you need intelligence, grit, and humility.
  • How many hours do you work a day on average?
    • That’s a tough question because I work with family and friends. So, it’s hard to separate social and work interactions.
    • I would say I work about 8 hours per day, 6 days per week. My wife would probably say that is an understatement.
  • To what do you most attribute your success?
    • I attribute my success to God, who provides me the ability and circumstances to make things work.
    • I realize that much of my businesses are out of my control. For example, I can’t influence the economy, the rise and fall of key competitors, or pandemics like COVID. Yet all those circumstances have a big impact on my business.
  • How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
    • Marketing a business is challenging, especially when providing a unique product, like the Red Dog shelters.
    • It’s important to get the story out to the right audience, in the right format. I would rather focus on positive aspects of my business than negative aspects of the competition.
    • Marketing now is mostly done through online channels. But that has made it very crowded. So, you must diligently target the right demographic with cost-effective ads.
  • Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
    • I have been fortunate to not need outside funding in my ventures, primarily because my first venture was financially successful. That gave me the cushion to not worry about living expenses when starting other new ventures.
  • What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
    • Long-term success will more likely be achieved if you focus on the long-term. That means not getting consumed in the day-to-day ups and downs of the business. You must always look past the horizon to make better decisions today.
  • Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
    • We have a unique niche with this storm shelter business. It is ideal for companies that need to protect workers that will only temporarily be at a site. I hope as time passes more companies will see this as a viable alternative to traditional fixed storm shelters.
  • Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
    • I admire Chic-fil-A. They have been a disciplined company that is obsessed with quality and good customer service. Also, they have stayed true to their convictions despite objections from some segments of society.
  • How important have good employees been to your success?
    • Good employees are a must to grow a successful business. That is the only way to truly scale.
    • If you try to do everything yourself, you’ll fail in several areas, and ultimately get burnt out.
  • How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
    • In a new business, it is important to know when to quit, and when to keep going. And often the person at the top is not the best person to make the decision, because they are too personally tied to the idea.
    • The decision should solely be based on future opportunity costs, not past sunk costs. It doesn’t matter how much you have already invested in the business. You just must determine if you should you keep investing in the business, from a time and money perspective.
  • What motivates you?
    • I am motivated to succeed. I just don’t like to lose.
    • In many ways, business competition today has replaced sports competition when I was younger.
  • What are your ideals?
    • My ideals are to create products and services that benefit the customer and the company. I want something that is good for both parties.
  • How do you generate new ideas?
    • I am not an idea person. But fortunately, I have people in my life, like Oscar Scott, that do come up with ideas. I listen to their ideas and try to determine which ones have the most potential.
  • How do you define success?
    • In business, I define success with financial profits in conjunction with satisfied customers. That means you have created something that is valuable for both the creator and the user.
  • How do you build a successful customer base?
    • First, create a product or service they want. And second, provide exceptional customer service.
  • What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
    • I like the freedom of working with who I want, when I want, on what I want.
  • What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
    • When I hear second-hand from others that the service I have helped provide is very good, that makes me satisfied. Because I know at that point the feedback is genuine, because the customer did not tell me directly just to be nice.
  • What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
    • Entrepreneurs are willing to take risks and believe in themselves. They do not just want a steady paycheck. They want to get paid well if their idea succeeds, and don’t expect to get paid if their idea fails.
  • What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
    • We have a culture of providing excellent customer service. That means rigorously testing our products before selling them to the public.
    • We also have a culture of accepting failure. It’s ok to fail, as long as you learn from it.
  • In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
    • Exciting.

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