Last week we posted, “If it were easy everyone would do it”, a quote that resonates with Mustangers because it is deeply rooted in the foundation of Mustang Engineering. Before they even opened the doors, the founders faced adversity. At the start of Mustang, hundreds of businesses vanished as Houston’s economy was getting hammered. Starting an engineering firm at the height of a downturned economy wasn’t going to be easy, but they knew they had to “just do it.” The question was, could they do it?
Below is an excerpt from Mustang, The Story, Chapter 1: Could We Do It:
“Major engineering houses like Earl&Wright, Bechtel and Fluor closed up shop in Houston as the major oil companies went through massive cuts in people and projects. That fall, some key hard workers were laid off at CBS, and no one felt any job security. At the same time, I did not feel I could go anywhere else as I might end up “last in…first out” if that company started going down. Felix must have sensed my trapped feeling when one morning he said “Bill, we should go start an engineering firm, all it takes is a pad and a pencil”. That was typical Felix…no sense making something bigger than it needed to be! After a moment’s thought, my response was “yes we should, but I would not do it without Paul, as he is an Engineer’s engineer”. Felix totally agreed and since he did electrical design on both Paul Redmon’s and my projects, said he would visit with Paul.
As Felix left, I thought a little about the magnitude of what we were contemplating. My mind wandered to my parents and what they had done. Mom had remarried in 1962 after moving three kids and a cat from Colorado to Ohio, when I was eight. By the mid ‘60s both mom and my step-dad had started their own businesses…sort of the American Dream. Dad pulled out of corporate America due to high blood pressure and started a construction company building small commercial buildings and custom homes in Cleveland, Ohio. Mom was fed up with the lack of opportunity for women in the workplace and started a yarn shop that became a three store chain. They invested in themselves, their robust work ethic, and retired at age forty-eight to follow other dreams. I had always felt that I would start a company someday, but not something as technical as an engineering firm. My first investment attempt was a real estate venture that had flopped due to the prolonged downturn in the Houston housing market. Perhaps this was the way to go…invest in a business where I knew most of the pieces, and then trust in my unfailing energy to fill in the gaps. I knew that I did not want to be 50 years old someday and wish I had tried.”
Felix, Paul and Bill invested in a business where they knew most of the pieces and then created a partnership based on trust.
“To me, sales was not so much work, as it was fun trying to put all the pieces together in real time for a client…connecting the dots and solving complex problems. Similarly, counting the money was fun for Felix and project execution was fun for Paul. From my experiences, I felt that Felix and I could do ok and also felt that Paul and Felix could do ok starting a company, due to the skills and passions each of those combinations would possess. If all three of us would team up, I had much more confidence that we could turn some heads. Paul would be the key for me to get out of my comfort zone and help start an engineering business.” (Mustang, The Story, Chapter 1)
“Once you’ve been through enough together, the attitude and commitment of all for one and one for all creates a potentially dominating force. You may not know what is coming, but you feel comfortable knowing that you can react and handle any combination of situations.”
The same principles Paul, Felix and Bill used can be applied to any business today.
- Just Do It!
- Invest in a business where you know most of the pieces
- Do what you love