James Lutz, owner of 4J Laser Engraving, LLC, reached a point in his IT career where, like many other entrepreneurs, he was tired of someone else deciding his fate. Originally from the Clearwater, FL, area, Lutz spent five years in the military as a SeaBee. Next he settled in Colorado when an opportunity became available to start an IT career and then worked his way back to FL and a home in Citrus County. His most recent employer, where Lutz worked as an IT Supervisor for Desktop Operations, decided to outsource their operations which left Lutz with an easy decision to start his own business.
“I was ready to determine my own fate,” he said. “They gave us four months notice, so during that time I did some research on different opportunities. Through a bit of trial and error, I decided on engraving and customizing firearms. I knew this was a craft our community was missing and I could bring something normally only found around bigger cities to our great community. Combining the latest technology and working with customers to bring their ideas to life are what I am passionate about. I opened the doors in March 2019.”
Lutz shared some early challenges along with a growth strategy that has allowed him to expand his service offerings.
“My first and biggest challenge that I still face is just getting my name out there and informing customers what I can do for them,” he said. "I have been attending the local gun shows, flea markets, festivals and hitting the streets going door to door at local businesses to get the word out. Through social media marketing and web search credibility, I’ve been trying to get the word out about this service.”
Working out of a 30ft by 50ft work-shop on his property, Lutz is able to engrave wood, metals, glass and acrylic. His services include creating custom Christmas ornaments, customizing tumbler cups and personalizing a firearm or knife for a loved one. His work is all done in-house, so you know who is performing the work, something that makes his business unique. He also offers discounts for larger quantities for promotional and other businesses applications.
Named in honor of his three daughters, along with Lutz’s first initial, 4J Laser Engraving is a business that Lutz wants to be able to pass down to his daughters. If anything, Lutz shared, “I hope it will show them that achieving their goals is not out of reach, anything is possible, they can control their fortune and they do not have to work for someone else.”
Lutz shared what he enjoys most about his business and what his future goals are. “I really enjoy mixing the high-tech equipment of lasers and design software to enhance and produce products people can use and appreciate every day, with price ranges that everyone can fit into.”
Lutz continued, “Looking ahead, I want to create a customer base and enough revenue growth to allow me to move into a retail location in 18 months.”
What advice does Lutz have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Fear is natural,” he said. “Don't let the fear and doubt hold you back. Push it aside and reach for your dreams.”