You’ve probably heard about many successful companies like Amazon, Harley Davidson, and Hewlett-Packard beginning their journeys out of someone’s garage.
But not SecureIt Tactical, Inc.
In fact, CEO and President Tom Kubiniec of SecureIt Tactical, Inc in Syracuse, NY didn’t even have a garage. Instead, he got his start in a one-room apartment in a drug-infested, gunshot kind of neighborhood. Not your typical beginnings for a successful entrepreneurial journey. But Tom’s journey has been anything but ‘typical.’
From Guitar Player to CEO
Fresh out of high school, Tom began a career as a professional guitar player in various kinds of bands in the northeast and Los Angeles until he developed chronic tendinitis and was forced to stop playing.
Not sure what else to do, he got a job in telemarketing where he quickly discovered he wasn’t cut out for sales. Seeing the opportunity, he quickly immersed himself in learning the art of sales to the point where he started his own telemarketing company selling computer supplies. That morphed into selling tape racks and other computer and laptop storage products.
One day he got a call asking if he could store MP5s (one of the most popular submachine guns in the world). Not one to turn down a challenge, Tom said “sure” and soon found himself with the freshly-minted title of “CEO,” a radical change from sales experiences.
“I remember going to a Vistage meeting, surrounded by CEOs from other companies,” he says.
“I told them, ‘I’m the CEO of a successful company, and I don’t know what a CEO is supposed to do.’ They had a good laugh at my expense, but it was true.”
Struggling to get things done, Tom saw an EOS® presentation hosted by Vistage on a Wednesday. On Thursday, he told his leadership team they would be implementing EOS.
Previous to that, SecureIt had grown to $5 million in sales then leveled off at the $4 million mark. Tom admits the company hit a hard ceiling.
“We’ve always had great culture,” Tom says. “But we didn’t have an organized vehicle to accomplish tasks. We were sloppy. We started out self-implementing EOS, but it wasn’t long before we brought in an EOS Implementer®.”
For Tom, bringing in an Implementer was like having another brain at the table.
“If there was a challenge or situation I didn’t know how to handle, I went to our EOS® Implementer, Jamie Cornehlsen. We have a small leadership team and having that extra person helped create some creative conflict to help drive some really good decisions.”
The employees took notice when the leadership team would come out of Level 10 Meetings™ all fired up, so that when it was time to do a departmental rollout, there was one hundred percent buy-in.
“I love the simplicity of EOS,” says Tom. I had no idea how good it was going to work and how much better the company can run with it. I’ve never seen a company that gets more done than we do.”
Making it Look Easy
When it comes to being a leader, Tom discovered that bringing EOS into the company brought him an incredible amount of credibility.
“By implementing EOS into the company, everyone could see we were getting more done. People could say, “Tom makes the right decisions for us.” That in turn made it easier to onboard new employees who would tell me how we get stuff done, unlike other companies.”
SecureIt has been running on EOS for two years now and Tom has nothing but high praises.
“Having EOS has lifted 90% of my stress as a CEO. Stress is just gone. I have the easiest company in the world to run with the greatest people in the world.”
And how are things looking in 2020?
“We’re crushing it,” says Tom. “We’re looking at 30% growth or more this year.”
Prepared for the Worst
Unlike a number of companies that found themselves scrambling when the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, SecureIt found itself “shockingly prepared.”
For the last two years, Tom has been moving SecureIt to a cloud-based organization where today, it is almost 100% cloud-based. So when the pandemic hit and he had to announce, “Tomorrow we’re going remote,” they were ready.
Far from being a difficult transition, it turns out that many of his employees say they’re more effective and getting more done working remotely. Now Tom doesn’t think his company will ever get back to full employment in the office.
“You would think my presence with my employees would be important,” he laughs.
Not only did the company have little difficulty adjusting to the pandemic-related chaos, today it finds itself facing new possibilities it wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“Moving to a remote-based company means we can move the corporate office anywhere we want without having to relocate people.”
And don’t expect a decision to be long-in-coming. Tom is a man who likes to get things done.
“Speed trumps accuracy in decision making,” he says. “You can always change a decision. It’s like when you come to a fork in the road, you make a decision. If you go the wrong way, you simply adjust your path. The EOS Scorecard Tool quickly points out decision accuracy.”
That may explain Tom’s frustration when he has to attend meetings that aren’t run like an EOS Level 10 Meeting.
“I go to these meetings now that are run by people who don’t know EOS and I’m thinking this could have been a ten-minute meeting. Instead, I just wasted an hour-and-a-half of my time. It’s like if you’ve been driving a brand new BMW then all of a sudden, they make you get into this 1980’s minivan with no air conditioning, no oil.”
Making a Lasting Impression
SecureIt is now the leading authority on weapon storage and armory design. It is the largest supplier of weapon racks to the U.S. military and is the largest builder of armories in the world.
Yet with all this success, Tom’s focus on core principles remains constant.
Three years ago, SecureIt entered the retail gun safe business. A $600 million a year industry that SecureIt wants to turn upside down. “There has not been any innovative change in the gun safe industry in 75 years. We are going to change that!” says Tom.
EOS has provided Tom and SecureIt with stress-free achievement, helping him and his people get ten times more done with ten times less stress. That frees Tom up to stay laser-focused.
“The core focus of our company is to improve the lives of others. Where every interaction you have with a human — doesn’t matter what it is — when it’s ended, they should have benefited in some way. We want to improve the lives of others. We want to make a lasting impression.”
SecureIt Tactical Inc. is implementing EOS with the help of Certified EOS Implementer® Jamie Cornehlsen
Key Takeaways – Leadership Lens
There’s no such thing as a typical journey for an entrepreneur. Successful business owners move forward and keep making decisions at every turn while staying true to their core values.