Joel Raney, CEO of Raney's Inc., which is a GrowFL 2017 Florida Companies to Watch honoree, caught the entrepreneurship bug from his father as a young boy. Later, while in graduate school, Raney took over one of his father's side projects and turned it around into a high-growth, independent company.
"My dad started a side division where he was listing his overstocked products for sale online. I thought that was a great opportunity, so I got involved and learned the business," Raney said. "I was still in grad school and it got to the point where 90 percent of my time in class I was on my laptop working or ducking out to answer customer calls. Just a couple months after I joined, my dad said it wasn't profitable and that he was going to shutter it unless I took it on full time. I stopped the master's program and moved back to Ocala in 2010. We added two more employees and shifted from just selling overstocked items to selling many new items my dad didn't stock."
Seven years later in 2017, the company employs more than 50 people. Raney's Inc. is an online retailer of parts and accessories for the big rig trucking industry.
"Our main customers are the owner-operators who own or lease their vehicles," Raney explained. "We focus on products for these guys who spend most of their time in their truck on the road and want to make it unique, and like home with interior, comfort and other custom products. We help them build their dream truck and work directly with the manufacturer to help them build custom parts and accessories. They own their trucks for a long time and we have great relationship with them. As they add more to their trucks, they come back to us."
Raney is proud his company has been selected as a Florida Company To Watch honoree and to be one of the winners from Ocala.
"There are many amazing and fast-growing companies in Florida so for us to make the list of only 50 is special," he said. "We don’t work hard for recognition or rewards, but it sure does feel good when you are recognized. That is something special I can share with the team to show to everyone who contributed and is working hard so they can see how much of a difference it's making. That's really special to achieve that and gives them more pride and meaning in what they're doing. I also think it's special that I grew up in Ocala and we can help build the reputation that it’s a great place to live in and build a business."
Raney's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is that it takes a strong work ethic and mental fortitude to persevere and succeed.
"First, be prepared to work very hard. Nothing comes easy when you're building a business. It's lots of headaches, stress and long hours. Some people think you can jump in with a good idea and run with it, but be prepared for how much effort is involved. You have to have a strong mentality to be successful and you can't give up easily. The beginning is difficult and it never gets easy. You need to be in it for right reasons so you won't give up."
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