Adam Kidan – Managing Director at Chartwell Business Advisors

Keep the overhead low and be ready to move on opportunities. Overthinking can be worse than not planning at all.

Adam Kidan is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who has worked in both Washington DC and the New York City Metro areas. Over the course of his 30+ year career, Adam has been involved in various diverse business ventures. Adam Kidan currently works at Chartwell Business Advisors in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which he founded in 2002.

Adam Kidan originally trained as a lawyer, graduating from Brooklyn Law School and serving as a partner at the law firm, Duncan, Fish, Bergson, and Kidan. However, he left his career in law to help start 1-800 MATTRESS, and went on to serve as the CEO and Chairman of the company’s mid-Atlantic operations. In this position, Adam helped successfully lead the company’s growth, and 1-800 MATTRESS established itself as America’s leading tele-retailer, serving upwards of two million customers. In 1995, Adam was chosen as a finalist to be Washington DC’s “entrepreneur of the year”.

After his work with 1-800 MATTRESS, Adam helped found Chartwell Business Advisors, and has served as the managing director since 2003. He has played a large part in handling mergers and acquisitions across a variety of industries and businesses, specializing in consulting and staffing.

Outside of work, Adam Kidan has been an active member of the community, and in DC served as the head chair of the District of Columbia’s Charter of Commerce Political Action Committee, and as a contributing member of the Workforce Investment Council.

Where did the idea for  Chartwell Business Advisors come from?

I was doing M&A in the staffing business and missed being an actual business operator. M&A is fun but I missed the day to day business operations. I started Chartwell Staffing as I saw so many businesses being bought and sold that were either run really poorly or really well. Moreso on the poorly side. I just knew that if we started something with great values and a strong mission it would standout in the industry. Within five years we have become the 36th largest staffing company in the country.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Waking up early. That is my key. I have my quiet time to get organized, catch up on all emails and reading, etc. From there it is generally meetings and conference calls which I try to keep to a minimum. I am a firm believer that the leader needs to visit all of our branches. Maybe I am old school, but each branch office needs to feel connected to the nucleus. Part of a team with a common mission. I travel about 200 days a year. My office is anywhere I am at.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Mostly by looking at something that doesn’t work and finding a way to fix it or make something more efficient.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Technology is the staffing industry. For such a low-tech industry the advancements have been amazing. Getting jobs to those who need it has been much more efficient and open.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Being organized. I am very diligent about keeping notepads with things to do by priority and date. Very old school, but I love it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Slow down, make sure to find time to exercise each day, and try to do things in moderation. I just turned 53 and I am still trying to get there.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Oh boy, that is a tough one. I am very debt adverse and prefer using cash flows. Most people today are very comfortable with debt.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Read. I read a lot and enjoy seeing how other business execs do things, their views, etc.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Keep the overhead low and be ready to move on opportunities. Overthinking can be worse than not planning at all.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Not preserving enough cash for downturns. Now we have mandatory reserves and stick to them.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to giveaway to our readers?

CASH IS KING. Don’t rely on debt, bankers, keep some profits in the business.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Sitting around with my team over a good bottle of scotch and talking. Maybe that would be $200

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Sharepoint. We use it and helps us stay organized.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Leaders Eat Last. The name speaks for itself.

What is your favorite quote?

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

Key Learnings

  • Take time to read. It’s a very rewarding hobby to pick up regardless of which industry you’re in. Try reading books, but also make sure you stay up with the news and are familiar with new business trends and ideas out there.
    Stay organized, and be diligent about it. Take time in the morning to get organized so you can tackle the rest of your day.
  • Stay involved with every part of your business. This doesn’t necessarily mean micromanagement, but as a leader you should have a relationship with every branch of your business, and every branch should feel connected. This helps build a sense of a team and a common mission.
  • Avoid getting into debt or bankers. If you don’t ever get into debt, then that will help ensure that you stay afloat, and make sure that you have any “rainy day” reserves.


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