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.
“I was talking to my mentors who also knew me very well and said it would be a good thing to do,â€ he recalls. “But as I talked to friends and family and others, they thought I was nuts.â€
In the end, Horton decided to go for it.
“I knew that there was some risk in the process,â€ 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.â€
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.