Ingenuity, Ignorance, and Perseverance (or, Max Muñoz’s business strategy)
My Dad is a really smart guy.
I was fortunate enough to realize this even during adolescence when most youths are amazed at the precipitous drop in their parents’ IQs. His words of wisdom have stuck with me for decades (we’ve even tweeted some of his sayings on our Twitter account!).
A little background on my Dad:
Maximo “Max” Fernando Muñoz was born in Cuba in 1931 and was going to Georgia Tech on a co-op plan in the ‘50’s. He would go to school for three months and then go back to Cuba and work for three months. When Fidel Castro took over the country, there reached a point (because of the brain drain occurring) that if he would have gone back to Cuba, he would not have been allowed to leave.
This 30-something political exile soon found himself married (to a wife that knew English to the extent that she had picked up during a high school semester in Jamaica) and three hungry, loud children – what to do!
Working hard, he eventually rose to the rank of Senior Research Engineer at Tech. He decided to leave academia to develop a concept that he had originated. His idea: render the hazardous waste generated by the steel-making process into a harmless and beneficial additive to the agricultural chemical marketplace.
Did I mention that he started this capital-intensive enterprise with his entire retirement account—$19,000 ($80,000 when adjusted for inflation)?
Perseverance (and ignorance!) was the key asset that my Dad had in his business venture.
Man, he did a lot of things WRONG, but he was honest and transparent—qualities that endeared him to key people that decided to help him along the way and enabled him to provide for his family for decades and create a platform company that my brother was able to subsequently build upon.
Another neat part: Max proved that ecological solutions could be a moneymaker (he was green before green was cool). He was able to charge a fee for removing toxic waste from the generator and use it as a raw material in his process.
Did you catch that? My Dad had a negative raw material cost!
His pioneering work in this space opened up the door to others after him: people who believed that you could safely dispose of a problem material (the right way—not just dumping it somewhere in the middle of nowhere and hope to get away with it) and transform it into a safe and usable asset.
My realization of the benefit a consultant like myself could have brought to business owners like my Dad drives my mission to serve their needs.