Rowley Mayo: “I wanted a business that would be as recession-proof as possible.”

Rowley Mayo worked in business and the corporate world all his life. “In January 2009, the company I worked for was owned by a business development company. They came to me and said, ‘We’re really glad you’re on our team. We hope you’re with us a long time.’ They gave me a substantial raise. I felt good. Eight months later they walked into my office and said, ‘We’ve decided we’re going in a different direction, and we don’t need you any more.'”

What made the layoff especially painful was that it happened a week before his youngest daughter’s wedding. “I think that bothered me more than getting fired,” he recalled.

Mayo spent the next year looking for work. “I did the whole routine – I shopped résumés, got hardly any responses at all. My wife and I were talking. I said, ‘This isn’t looking good.’ We had always talked about buying a business. I sat down and outlined the criteria I would look for. Franchising was something I considered. I wound up talking to a broker. They put me in touch with Mr. Appliance.”

Mayo and his wife had scheduled a trip to Texas to meet the Mr. Appliance franchise company. “The day I bought my airline tickets, I got a job offer from a large health care company in the Twin Cities. I thought, ‘What do I do here?'” Ultimately, he and his wife decided to move ahead with the franchise. “I thought, ‘I could take this job and 12 months later the same thing could happen. Or we could wind up regretting that we didn’t try this.

“People thought I was absolutely crazy to turn down a job. Now we have something we own, it’s growing. I don’t regret it.”

What were your criteria for choosing a franchise opportunity?

I wanted a business that would be as recession-proof as possible. I did not want the latest trendy franchise going out there. I didn’t want brick and mortar, putting a lot of money into a site and hoping people would come. I wanted something I could run from my home, or from anywhere in the country if I wanted to. This business has inventory but it’s nothing compared to some businesses. Everybody owns a home, they have major appliances in the home. Appliances break, they need fixing. We’re just past the heyday when everyone was buying new homes and new appliances. They’re going to start breaking. It’s dull and boring businesses that make people wealthy.

What background did you have in appliance repair?

In the Marine Corp years before, I had worked on electronics. Early in my career I worked for a company that manufactured security systems, which gave me more background with electronic stuff. I felt comfortable with the technology. But I had never repaired an appliance. My background was accounting and IT. I thought, “This isn’t a lot different from what I’ve been doing.” We got lucky with the first tech we hired. He’s very experienced. He was excited about the opportunity of being the lead guy in what could be a great company.

Are you financially back to where you were when you got laid off?

It takes time. We’re getting close. I need three to four techs. We’re looking for our fourth right now. I want to go to six or seven techs. As long as calls keep coming in.


Photo Credit: Tom Witta

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