Small-business owners, what are you doing to stand out from the crowd? Each week, we focus on an entrepreneur who has lessons to share that we think will resonate with other small-business owners.
Nathan D. Frankel, founder of scrap-metal-recovery service Advanced Steel Recovery, answers our questions:
What are you doing to stand out from the crowd?
Scrap metal isn’t the most innovative of industries, but we are pushing for change. For example, scrap yards have traditionally shipped their materials over land using customized, open-air trucks and rail cars. By sea, transporting scraps required hulking, break-bulk ships and special loading and unloading facilities, which are inefficient. To streamline the process, we are using cutting-edge steel drawers, which can hold roughly 47,000 pounds of shredded metal, to help fill standard-size shipping containers. This process saves dealers time and money.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Being innovative and having a direct impact on the way the scrap-metal industry works.
What’s the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
Pushing for change in a change-resistant industry.
Name: Nathan D. Frankel
Business: Advanced Steel Recovery, a scrap metal recovery service.
Industry: Scrap metal
Location: Fontana, Calif.
Year founded: 1999
Number of employees: 46
Web address: advancedsteel.com
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome?
Complacency. Tack on the fact that when I launched this business, I was just 25 years old and just getting people to pay attention was difficult. In time, however, my track record spoke for me. There is a big incentive to do business with an inventor and innovator.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Being a micromanager. I felt so compelled to control the output of everything that I found myself controlling the input, too. Even though the quality of our work never suffered, my aggressive management style limited the amount of work we could take on. And since I never fully trusted my employees to take the reins, they didn’t learn their jobs as well as they should have. That put us at a disadvantage a couple years ago when business picked up dramatically and we weren’t prepared to deal with the added work. We ended up looking unorganized and seeming somewhat irresponsible.
What’s the best business advice you can offer?
Trust is the most valuable and rare commodity management can build and use as a tool.
SmartMoney.com provides news, information, and tools for business professionals and growing businesses. All content provided by SmartMoney is © 2009 SmartMoney®, a Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and Hearst SM Partnership.