Plan before you proceed

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March 29, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Maloney shares tips with ACYP

You can tell whether a person could run his own business just by looking at his behavior, Ray Maloney said.
“Does he have his life in order?” he asked. “What kind of work ethic does he have? Does he work well with others?”
Maloney, owner of Ray’s Metal Depot in LaHarpe, was the guest speaker Friday for a meeting of Allen County Young Professionals.
Maloney spoke about the ins and outs of starting up and maintaining a successful business.
Before opening a business, Maloney recommended a person have an extensive knowledge, or deep appreciation, of the business he hopes to develop.
“Me, I like junk,” he said. “To me, it’s a challenge to take something nobody else wants and make it so somebody else wants it. Everything is worth something.”
Ray’s Metal serves as a metal recycling center and auto salvage. Maloney opened the business in 1991 on a 4-acre lot just north of U.S. 54 in LaHarpe.
Since then, his lot has doubled in size — with room to double again as demand increases — while Maloney replaced his original 18-by-24 foot office with a 20,000-square-foot office, shop area and digital scale system.
He offered a number of tips to ACYP, including:
— Ensure your financial affairs are in order before starting a business. Maloney waited until he was 28, after having worked at Klein Tools for 12 years. “My house, my cars and my kids were paid for by then,” he said. “That way, if something bad was to happen, those are things they couldn’t take away from me.”
— Treat clientele friendly and honestly. “It’s a lot easier to get $1 from 1,000 people than it is to get $1,000 from one person. And there are people out there who think that if there’s a dollar to be made, they’re going to try to get a dollar and a dime. That tends to bother some people.”
— Likewise, if a customer can get rich off of dealing with Ray’s Metal, Maloney is all too happy to help. “I want somebody to find something in there that they can resell for a profit,” he said. “That’s good for them.”
— Don’t go into business solely because somebody else is successful at it.
— Know as much about your business as possible in case of slow-downs and layoffs, while leaving technical issues, such as taxes, to the experts. Maloney noted hiring a tax expert made it possible for him to qualify for tax breaks and expand his business, “something I’d have known nothing about on my own.”
— Start small and don’t expect to be a millionaire in a year. Maloney noted that he keeps his business radius within 30 miles of LaHarpe because of competitors in Chanute, Centerville and other outlying counties.
— When looking for a partner, choose wisely, both in business and in marriage, he said. They make the workdays much more pleasant.
— Support the community whenever possible. Maloney noted that he probably would have still been more profitable with his spartan office, but expanding and developing his property has made it more beneficial to the city and more attractive for other businesses to relocate to LaHarpe.
Maloney also supports such programs as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), the local volunteer fire department and other community efforts such as Farm-City Days. He also occasionally provides scrapped vehicles for training for fire departments.
Maloney’s presentation was part of a bi-monthly series planned by ACYP. He was introduced by Wade Bowie, ACYP president and assistant Allen County attorney.

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