Some of Larry’s many talents include catching big fish and growing majestic beards.
Why did you start the business, what was the catalyzing event?
I started my first business, Mustang Glass, in 1994. I graduated from SMU in May of 1993. Real jobs were hard to find. I took a temp assignment with Robert Half Accountemps. They had a glass company (referred to as a glazing contractor- installs glass/storefront on commercial new construction projects) that needed to convert from paper ledger sheets to QuickBooks. I by no means had the experience to do what they needed done, but I took the assignment anyway. The glass company was in bad shape and went bankrupt months later. I learned a lot about the business, and I thought it was a cool industry that I could be successful in. I took out a loan on my truck, hired the best employee from the bankrupt company, and started Mustang Glass.
How did you find your first customer?
Well, the first one isn’t really worth talking about. To find the customers I needed, I just started showing up at the offices of general contractors. It took a while to convince them that they could trust me to get the job done. I just kept showing up, asking, and bidding projects. It finally worked.
Describe your first office/location.
Haha, memories! It was a $500 per month small office warehouse in Desoto, TX. Things were cheap down there. You walked in the door and there was one office and a bathroom. No waiting room, nothing. That and a warehouse.
What’s the most creative thing you did to get business started, or kept it going through a tough time?
Oh gosh. Well, I guess since the statute of limitations has passed, I can admit that I was occasionally kiting checks. I had a business account in Desoto, a personal account in Dallas, and a personal account where my parents lived in East Texas. I took advantage of the time it used to take for checks to clear to pay vendors & payroll. It helped me get through some tough spots when I was waiting on customers to pay me.
What’s something quirky or superstitious you do as a CEO?
I get a lot of comments on my facial hair. I don’t like to shave, so my face is always in some stage of a beard. A few times I have grown it so long that it would impress Grizzly Adams. It is always funny to see the reaction of clients that haven’t seen me in a while- “Whoa…..holy cow…that’s a beard”. I also take great satisfaction when I shave after a 9-month beard growing extravaganza and a newer employee doesn’t recognize me.
What was your last job working for someone else? What was your favorite day job?
I never had a full-time job working for someone else. In college I ran a lawn crew, did accounting work part time and sold/hauled/delivered firewood to make money. My favorite job was working for a small submersible pump company in Houston for two summers in college. The owners were friends of my dad. The husband David Draper was an amazing mentor to me. He always gave me assignments that you should never give an 18-year-old kid. “Go pick this pump up at a prison in South Texas”. He never mentioned that I had to actually enter the prison, talk to prisoners (trustees), and would learn to roll cigarettes on that assignment. Or “Here is my credit card, I need you at this address on the West Bank in New Orleans at 9:00am to pick up a pump.” He either trusted me or had really bad judgment. He forced me to figure things out. One day, he fired his absolutely best technician. When I asked why, he told me “No one who works for me gives me an ultimatum.” Wow. These were formative lessons for a young kid.
Where did you come up with the name for your company?
Mustang Glass was easy. I went to SMU. Larry’s glass didn’t sound too good.
Glass Doctor is a franchise, so that one was easy.
View13, my company that sells beautiful Fleetwood windows and doors for modern homes is more creative. We are selling an amazing view and 13 is the atomic number for Aluminum- which is the material the product is made of.
My holding company AJTW Interests- those letters represent the names of my children- Ashlee, Jamie, Tatum and Willy. I want to always think of them when I am working.