Rowley Mayo: â€œI wanted a business that would be as recession-proof as possible.â€
Rowley Mayo worked in business and the corporate world all his life. â€œIn January 2009, the company I worked for was owned by a business development company. They came to me and said, â€˜Weâ€™re really glad youâ€™re on our team. We hope youâ€™re with us a long time.â€™ They gave me a substantial raise. I felt good. Eight months later they walked into my office and said, â€˜Weâ€™ve decided weâ€™re going in a different direction, and we donâ€™t need you any more.â€™â€
What made the layoff especially painful was that it happened a week before his youngest daughterâ€™s wedding. â€œI think that bothered me more than getting fired,â€ he recalled.
Mayo spent the next year looking for work. â€œI did the whole routine â€” I shopped rÃ©sumÃ©s, got hardly any responses at all. My wife and I were talking. I said, â€˜This isnâ€™t looking good.â€™ We had always talked about buying a business. I sat down and outlined the criteria I would look for. Franchising was something I considered. I wound up talking to a broker. They put me in touch with Mr. Appliance.â€
Mayo and his wife had scheduled a trip to Texas to meet the Mr. Appliance franchise company. â€œThe day I bought my airline tickets, I got a job offer from a large health care company in the Twin Cities. I thought, â€˜What do I do here?â€™â€ Ultimately, he and his wife decided to move ahead with the franchise. â€œI thought, â€˜I could take this job and 12 months later the same thing could happen. Or we could wind up regretting that we didnâ€™t try this.
â€œPeople thought I was absolutely crazy to turn down a job. Now we have something we own, itâ€™s growing. I donâ€™t regret it.â€
What were your criteria for choosing a franchise opportunity?
I wanted a business that would be as recession-proof as possible. I did not want the latest trendy franchise going out there. I didnâ€™t want brick and mortar, putting a lot of money into a site and hoping people would come. I wanted something I could run from my home, or from anywhere in the country if I wanted to. This business has inventory but itâ€™s nothing compared to some businesses. Everybody owns a home, they have major appliances in the home. Appliances break, they need fixing. Weâ€™re just past the heyday when everyone was buying new homes and new appliances. Theyâ€™re going to start breaking. Itâ€™s dull and boring businesses that make people wealthy.
What background did you have in appliance repair?
In the Marine Corp years before, I had worked on electronics. Early in my career I worked for a company that manufactured security systems, which gave me more background with electronic stuff. I felt comfortable with the technology. But I had never repaired an appliance. My background was accounting and IT. I thought, â€œThis isnâ€™t a lot different from what Iâ€™ve been doing.â€ We got lucky with the first tech we hired. Heâ€™s very experienced. He was excited about the opportunity of being the lead guy in what could be a great company.
Are you financially back to where you were when you got laid off?
It takes time. Weâ€™re getting close. I need three to four techs. Weâ€™re looking for our fourth right now. I want to go to six or seven techs. As long as calls keep coming in.
Photo Credit: Tom Witta