Like many American workers, Henry Niedzwecki has a story to tell about the state of the U.S. job market. Unlike most in the work force who deal with downsizing and layoffs, though, Henry’s story has a happy ending in the form of Metal Supermarkets.
Spending a large portion of his working life in equipment sales, Niedzwecki sold tube making machinery, welding equipment and tube bundling accessories and spent time training sales forces to sell similar products. While he was in a position of responsibility, he didn’t have the kind of autonomy or financial returns he wanted. Downsized at age 50, Niedzwecki knew he had to make a change.
“It is always a shock to find yourself out of work, but it is also liberating because you really do have the chance to reinvent yourself. Owning your own business, that is something you can really do. You can take everything you have learned over the years and apply it in new way,” he said.
So when he began thinking in a new professional direction, Metal Supermarkets made sense. He had a solid background in the industry, knew he didn’t want to work for someone else and the job market for sales positions was stagnant. “My initial thought was to buy an existing business. One of the things I had been doing in my prior life was rebuilding machinery. So my thought was to buy a machine shop with a view of turning it into a machinery rebuilding concept,” Niedzwecki said.
His research into new business ventures revealed new concerns, however. Niedzwecki didn’t want to start a business from scratch or try to revive a dying business; he wanted something with a great track record and solid support and started considering a franchise. “I wanted those training wheels. I wanted to think I wasn’t going to be reinventing the wheel, and I also didn’t want to find myself trying to create systems to do things when those systems were already in place and working well. So I moved at that point into the idea of a franchise.”
Niedzwecki wanted to make sure the business would thrive in Nashville, Tennessee where he lives with his wife, Susan. He wanted something that worked on a business-to-business level with a product that offered him a good chance to grow. So, he chose Metal Supermarkets.
“I looked at the customer base of Metal Supermarkets, and I said ‘I know these guys, these are the guys I have been selling equipment to the past few years.’”
With the plan in place, Niedzwecki moved on to the next step in the franchise process – financing. Using much of his own savings, plus investments secured through three silent partners, Niedzwecki started smart. With the help of his silent partners – all family members – he put a plan in place to repay the investment over three years, while maintaining the Metal Supermarkets franchise and securing enough funds to live on until the franchise’s revenue stream was viable.
“My home and my savings were completely on the line when we opened the business. It was kind of scary and exhilarating at the same time.” But despite any uncertainties Niedzwecki faced, his Metal Supermarkets franchise has thrived in Nashville, filling a niche in the city’s metal supply market.
Metal Supermarkets also made sure Niedzwecki had what he needed to make his Nashville location a success, helping scout locations with plenty of visibility and traffic and contributing to the store’s initial inventory buy. The company also helped with store set up – offering suggestions on how to display merchandise and offering insight into what had worked for other franchise owners.
“The help was very detailed and we really appreciated it. We have been very happy with our growth. We have moved forward. We are a player in the local market. We constantly get referrals. We even have our competitors sending people to us,” Niedzwecki said.
Getting started may be the hardest part, but according to Niedzwecki, a reliable financial base and people who believe in your vision for the future can help anyone do what he did – secure a new future for himself and his family.