After his service as a military policeman, Army veteran and Redline Steel CEO Colin Wayne served as a Department of Defense contractor, and was even injured during a rocket attack in Afghanistan. Did that stop him? Hell no. Wayne has gone on to found Redline Steel, which has become the largest customized home decor steel manufacturer in the United States.
Adapt, Improvise, Overcome
After his injuries in Afghanistan, Wayne slogged through six months of excruciating physical therapy, followed by what he describes as several notable successes and failures as an entrepreneur. These trial-by-fire experiences taught him the value of adapting quickly to a variety of situations -- and then things took an unusual turn.
While searching for a unique gift for his son, he noticed the business potential in the wall-art decor market and looked to seize the space by cutting steel. Thus Redline Steel was born.
Starting a home decor manufacturing company is a formidable task but Wayne did so with Army grit and a plan of attack that made his operation more efficient and cost-effective than his competitors.
His first contract was with fellow Army veteran Daniel Alarik CEO/Founder of Grunt Style, who was interested in purchasing 500 AR-15 rifle wall-art in assorted colors. This provided some working capital needed to grow and scale the business without getting an investor.
Today, Redline Steel combines fine art with raw metal, offering something for everyone, whether it’s newlyweds, pet owners, or freedom loving patriots. The company features custom options for many of its products and even has a selection of items for under $20.
In less than two years, Redline scaled to a 52,000 square foot facility and now has more than 35 employees. They are projected to hit $40 million in revenue in 2018.
Veteran Employees Get ’Er Done
“I prefer to hire veterans based on their shared core principles and values,” says Wayne.
It’s no wonder Wayne prefers veterans. When a company has a clearly defined mission and objectives, veterans work to exceed mission goals and expectations. It’s in veterans’ DNA to get ’er done.
Many great military leaders began their careers as lowly privates, learning how different roles fit together as part of a finely-tuned machine as they moved up through the ranks. Wayne adopted a similar strategy. Everyone starts at entry level and is promoted internally. By rotating through each role, new employees learn not only the skills for their job, but also learn how the other positions within the company interact and support each other. This creates a happy and productive environment, because every person understands the complexities of each role.
Says Wayne, “My vision for the company is [that it] will be a billion dollar company within the next five years.”
Wayne’s 3 Takeaways for Building A Thriving Business
1. While having every new employee rotate through all of the entry-level roles in your company may not make sense for every business, having some cross-training and an understanding of other departments will result in higher workplace morale, communication, and employee ownership in their jobs.
2. Share your successes with your team. They are the ones getting dirty day in and day out, and ultimately will determine the satisfaction of your customers. If they aren’t happy, your customers will end up unhappy as well.
3. Build your team, support your team, and ensure they are in the best possible position for themselves. If they are a great employee, but unsuccessful in their current role, look around and see if there is a better role for them before cutting them completely.
Redline Steel is a custom steel manufacture inspired by design and relentless innovation to bring a level of quality unprecedented to what's been seen in home decor. They are proudly Veteran-owned and Operated and 100% Manufactured in the United States.
Jessica G. Tabbert is a veteran of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force Reserve, a military spouse, mother of four, and Chief Everything Officer at J. Gisele.
— Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.