Millionaire Businessman Talks Making the Jump from Employee to Entrepreneur

Leaving security of full-time job, Oscar Horton took a chance with a truck dealership

Sun State International Trucking President Oscar Horton (Image: Courtesy of Subject)

When to make the jump from employee to entrepreneur is often a decision that requires a lot of consideration. After all, being an employee guarantees a steady paycheck and those monthly bills won’t go on hiatus while you’re building your business. When Oscar Horton had the opportunity in 1999 to acquire a commercial truck dealership, his friends and mentors had different opinions.

The dealership represented a good opportunity, Horton thought. He had the experience, currently employed as a vice president and general manager of and General Manager of a foundry subsidiary of The International Harvester Co., a manufacturer of agricultural machinery, construction equipment and commercial trucks.

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“I was talking to my mentors who also knew me very well and said it would be a good thing to do,” he recalls. “But as I talked to friends and family and others, they thought I was nuts.”

In the end, Horton decided to go for it.

“I knew that there was some risk in the process,” he admits. “I guess my confidence level in what I had learned over that 27 years left me with two conclusions. One was that I could make this work. The second one, if it didn’t work, I could find another job in the marketplace.”

There were some stumbles along the way, but over the next decade, Horton and his team would triple revenues and increase profitability for Tampa, Florida-based Sun State International Trucks L.L.C. (No. 29 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICES list with $106.1 million in sales).

Fortunately, Horton didn’t listen to his naysayers and over the following 13 years, the new team in place grew the company from $28 million in annual sales to its present $100 million-plus. Drastic steps were taken to accomplish this, however.

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