Originally from Massachusetts, David Carrier, founder of QuantumFlo, Inc., moved with his parents and two brothers to Florida in 1977. They settled in Tampa where Carrier's father got a job in plumbing sales, an industry he had plenty of experience in from previous positions in Massachusetts. His father eventually founded his own 'rep firm'. These companies contract with major plumbing manufactures to represent their products and bring them to market. It's an inexpensive way for the manufacturers to develop a network and get their products in the hands of end users.
Carrier grew up in the plumbing sales business and worked for his parents in the afternoons while pursing a Business degree at The University of South Florida. After college, Carrier moved to Orlando in 1989 and went to work for a company his father's business represented. He started off as a Regional Sales Manager, but quickly rose through the ranks to become the Global Sales Manager. When 911 hit, business slowed down and Carrier started thinking about his future.
"I was traveling the world," he said. "It was an incredible experience, but I wanted to get back to Central Florida. In 2001, I discovered a similar business based out of Ormond Beach. It was a startup and the position came with a significant pay cut. However, it had a lot of potential. I saw the value of Florida manufacturing and the assets available to us. I made it clear to the owner that I would come to work for him, but that I intended to buy him out in seven years. He understood and I joined the team. Fast forward to December of 2006, after growing the business and developing a national distribution network, we drafted a signed letter of intent and were two weeks away from closing on the deal. Long story short, the owner changed his mind without telling me. I was greeted by a locked door and many unanswered questions. We ended up getting attorneys involved and after a year of litigation, it was settled that I would no longer pursue damages as long as he would leave me alone as I built out my own business."
Carrier didn't let the setback halt his forward progress. He had the knowledge, skills and drive necessary to grow his own business and do something extraordinary. Many former employees with the Ormond Beach company left to join Carrier. His new company was focused on manufacturing packaged pump systems and solutions. The business quickly gained traction. From the start, Carrier focused on innovation and results. "The difference between success and failure is that I understand the market and encourage those working for me to focus on innovative results, not just another product," he said. "We're the only company in the entire world focused on innovating packaged pump systems. We're now on our third version of custom built software designed to run our hardware and provide clients with more control and efficiency. Steve Jobs is one of my heroes. He built an experience, not just a computer. We're doing the same for our customers."
A ubiquitous challenge for manufacturers is capital. It's a very capital heavy business. Everything QuantumFlo does involves hard assets and purchasing inventory. Payments typically take 45-60 days, so there's a necessary capital float to fund the manufacturing process. According to Carrier, it's always been a challenge to maintain their cash position. Nevertheless, Carrier made it a point to pay his bills on time and, as a result, has maintained a stellar credit rating.
We asked Carrier about other challenges and what he enjoys most about owning and running his own company. "Finding the right people is definitely a challenge," he said. "We just hired an IT Director. We went 10 years without an IT Director. That hire is the final piece of the puzzle to complete the team. As a result of surrounding myself with the right people, I'm now able to focus on being the visionary of the company. That's the creative part that I really enjoy."
Looking ahead, Carrier is excited about moving into their new 30,000 square foot facility. The space includes 7,000 sq ft of office space and 23,000 for production. The new facility will afford QuantumFlo the ability to employ substantial lean production techniques to improve flow and throughput. Carrier anticipates doubling their monthly output. Simultaneously, the company will be going through ISO 9001 Certification to demonstrate the ability to consistently provide products that meet customer and regulatory requirements. On top of that, they're also implementing a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to connect customers and employees with an online software platform.
Carrier offers up some great advice and truths about becoming an entrepreneur. "I wish I would have discovered a little phone app, received a payout and not have to worry about anything for the rest of my life," he said. "Unfortunately, that's not a good example of the reality of becoming an entrepreneur. That's called luck. We're all too quick to hold a yardstick to instant gratification. That's not how it works. You better be prepared to work hard. If you love what you do, you're committed to getting the job done and you have passion, 70 hours per week won't feel like work. You have to think long-term. I'm 54 now, but I still see another 10 years of grinding. Focus on the value and what good comes out of your product. That's where your focus should be, not on what it brings to you personally. A true focus on our software that runs our machines earned us Innovation of the Year by Pumps and Systems Magazines in 2014. We continue to build on that, and our hardware products, by introducing newer versions with even more value for the client. Perhaps the most important thing is that you can't do it alone. One of my favorite books is Steve Jobs' Biography. He may have come off, to some, as a jerk, but he listened to people. You can't be dictatorial. As an owner, you ultimately have the final say, but you have to listen to your people."
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