Randy Minchew’s entire professional career has been in the construction or remodeling industry. He is a serial entrepreneur in this industry and has several successful businesses under his belt.
One of Randy’s companies, Swift Companies, LLC. has been growing and developing for almost 25 years. Originally Swift Construction, Inc. it opened in 1984 specializing in the home remodeling industry. In 2008, Randy and his business partner, Terry Alfermann, expanded their ideas of a larger, more versatile company and created Swift Companies, LLC. These separate but connected divisions under Swift Companies, LLC. work to create a lifetime relationship with the homeowners they serve.
While maintaining Swift Companies, LLC. Randy has also successfully started and run several additional companies.
MO: Randy, you are what some call a serial entrepreneur. It’s hard to keep up with everything you are working on! Can you give us a brief rundown of all of the companies that you are currently working with?
Randy: Swift Companies is a custom installation company undergoing a website update, as well as moving from a large showroom model company space into an office and warehouse without physical window/door displays for our customers to come and see.
Swift Boys Maintenance Co. is almost ready to launch a new iPad app that will be really cool and easy for homeowners, property managers, and realtors to use. The app will allow you to schedule an appointment with a Swift Pro in the heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, or home maintenance repair industries.
Innovat’d is now our parent company to some of the new startups; for example,
Clarius Interactive is a marketing company that helps small businesses tell their stories through appropriate and relevant mediums.
ThePitchRm.com has all its video and lighting equipment in the studio, and we are ready to launch. The Pitch Rm is a video studio with a green screen and HD video recorder, along with a Mac for final-cut editing of your own video projects.
Another company that is still in the pre-launch stage is ComoSpark.com, which is a digital newsmagazine that will cover all things innovation in mid-Missouri. We are also developing a company that will be able to take new inventions to market, and we will be inviting inventors to sign on with us, kind of like a singer signs on with a record label.
MO: Your business incubator seems like a great fit for someone who has been involved in so many startups. Can you tell us in more detail how this incubator operates, and why you believe you and the other partners are uniquely qualified to run it?
Randy: We are not uniquely qualified, but we seem to be willing to take on the task of solving the complexity of owning and running the only non-government funded or subsidized incubator in mid-Missouri. The operation of the incubator is still being developed, but, in short, we take an entrepreneur through three complex stages we call creation, incubation, and acceleration. The first stage, creation, is a process that will determine concept viability, feasibility, and potential for success, as well as a timeline for product release or a business opening. The second step is incubation; this is where we mentor and guide entrepreneurs through business and marketing plan development and help find funding, based on the financial plan we help develop. We also start the search for all necessary partners and vendors that an individual will need. The final step is acceleration, and this encompasses the pre-launch and launch phases of the business, where we will assist in finding office space or technology, and selecting vendors that the business will use.
MO: What type of businesses are you looking to help through the incubator?
Randy: We will look at anyone’s ideas and help them decide if we are a fit, or if another resource in mid-Missouri might be a better fit.
MO: What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur and mentoring other budding entrepreneurs through the incubator?
Randy: I love people and the study of people, and an entrepreneur is a peculiar breed of person, kind of like a scout would have been back in the horse drawn wagon days. An entrepreneur does not want to be part of the pack.
MO: If you could offer just one piece of advice for all of the entrepreneurs reading this, what would it be?
Randy: Humble yourself, because there is much to learn from the folks who value security and a steady paycheck more than you do. Listen to your heart only when it relates to matters of relationships; listen to your head or someone else’s advice on all the rest of your business matters.
MO: You must have had some challenges while running all of these companies.
Randy: The biggest challenges are the ones that money can’t fix. The big challenges are the relationships with people. My advice is to control what goes into your brain. I suggest you study – not just read, but study – a book called Your Brain at Work by David Rock. I control what I think about, and by doing so, I can control what I do and how I treat people.
MO: Can you tell us about your biggest failure in business and how it has shaped how you run your current businesses?
Randy: My biggest failure came while my thinking was controlled mostly by my emotions. I used to have a need for folks to see me as a rich, successful guy because of my abusive childhood and because I did not get to finish high school, due to factors beyond my control. The need on my part to paint a picture of a successful person took up so much time that I had no time left to worry about the real work required to be successful. I would encourage anyone who reads this to deal with their shame by finding someone to confide in who will give them sound, solid input and help them deal with their unhealthy beliefs.
MO: You are located in Columbia, MO. Why do you think this town is a great place for an entrepreneur like you?
Randy: I owned several businesses in Houston, TX, and was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task of marketing to that size of an audience. Today, I have solved some of those seemingly overwhelming puzzles because I have gotten the opportunity to fine-tune my business processes in a smaller market.
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