Remember what is truly important and keep balance in your life.”
Mr. Darger began his career working in the construction industry for eight years. In 1980 he obtained a license and started a specialty sub-contractor business in the construction industry. After seven years of successful operation in five western states he sold that business.
He then joined with a partner in the formation of a large cultured marble manufacturing business. In that business he served as the operations manager organizing and building a 36 station automated fabrication line. Their facility produced a weekly volume of up to 10,000 cultured marble bathroom sinks for retail sale in home improvement stores. This business was then sold to a company that moved operations to Mexico to take advantage of the lower labor cost.
In the early 1990’s he became involved in the electroplating industry when he recognized the need for easy to use, reliable, and portable automotive gold plating equipment. In the following years he designed, developed and produced many user friendly plating systems along with the associated chemical solutions. He also recognized the need for a technical interface to work between the electroplating industry and end user of electroplating services. Gold Plating Services provides that interface for every class of prospective user of electroplating technology. Whether it’s an engineer developing a product that needs to know what particular gold plating specification is appropriate for their application, or a hobbyist or craftsman that just needs to have advice on their small project. Gold Plating Services can help them with the best procedure, cost, and fulfillment of their need. This company has been an industry leader for over 27 years now.
Where did the idea for Gold Plating Services come from?
I had an associate who was starting a portable automotive gold plating business. His model was to hire technicians who would service new car dealerships and gold plate the emblems right on the car. The plating systems that were available to him were cumbersome, difficult to use, and expensive. He knew that I was technically inclined so he asked me if I wanted to develop a better system.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I still provide some technical consulting for product development and refinement. I also determine the strategic direction we want to take the company. We have a strong management team that can take care of day to day operations of the business without too much input from me. At this stage I am focusing on developing and refining the systems we use to operate our business. My ultimate goal is to have a business of well-defined systems and procedures that could be operated by any careful manager.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I talk to our sales and technical support personnel to determine what the needs of our customers are and then figure out the best way to help fill that need.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The growth of YouTube and Social media marketing. We have a product where simple explanations and visuals are extremely valuable. Most of our new customers come from this area.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I work from prioritized to-do lists.
What advice would you give your younger self?
1. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Learn to delegate and trust in the ability of those around you.
2. Carefully define and document procedures and systems. This way you don’t have to continually “reinvent the wheel”.
3. Remember what is truly important and keep balance in your life.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
There is something valuable that can be obtained from every negative encounter.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Wake up early in the morning and find some quiet time to focus and meditate on what is really important for the day. This is the best time to make your prioritized list.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I believe that maintaining an attitude of providing excellent customer service and satisfaction is the most important key in long term growth. Sometimes this means swallowing your pride and maybe taking a bit of a financial hit. The customer may not always be right but the customer is the only source of revenue we have.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I made a large time, financial, and emotional investment in a hazmat training program that I believed could be very profitable. Then, the crash of 2008 hit and someone that I trusted and respected told me it was probably not going to work in the current financial environment. So I shelved the project. I never really did overcome the emotional loss of quitting a project I believed in.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve seen a lot of old people buy expensive stuff like walkers, wheel chairs, canes, bath equipment etc. When the person doesn’t need the item anymore it could become available to someone else. I think a properly run website or brokerage for this kind of stuff could work.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My wife and I like to hike to the Phantom Ranch in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In the past I have always carried everything we needed down and then carried it back out on my back. It’s about eight miles and 5,000 feet vertical elevation so every pound is important. Last December I paid to have a mule carry out our stuff, all I had to carry was what we needed for the hike. It was wonderful, that’s the best $100 I’ve spent in a long time.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
YouTube is our primary marketing, sales, and technical support tool. We make videos to demonstrate our equipment and answer frequently encountered technical questions. We have a YouTube channel as well as all of our sales and technical support videos on our website.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The E-Myth. It teaches the power of developing and using systems in every aspect of business.
What is your favorite quote?
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.