Although he didn’t start with many natural advantages, Ron Sturgeon has always had a nose for opportunity and a knack for entrepreneurship. When his father died, his stepmother threw 17-year-old Ron out of the house. Homeless but undeterred, Ron parlayed a $2,000 inheritance and a used VW into a successful auto repair business right out of high school.
The repair business grew into one of the largest auto salvage businesses in the United States. Never afraid to innovate, Ron developed new marketing techniques and was the first to computerize his operation. Inc. Magazine profiled his business because of Ron’s ability to use database-driven direct marketing intelligently to grow his company. Using simple tools, Ron created a system that worked to find and close high value accounts efficiently.
When Ron needed capital to expand, he did his first oversubscribed private stock offering. In 1999, Ford bought Ron’s six-yard, 140-employee Texas operation.
In 2001, Ron founded an auto auction to help insurance companies in Texas dispose of salvaged vehicles. Again, Ron sought investors in a private stock offering and again it was oversubscribed. Fifteen months later, the largest public company in the sector purchased his company. Drawing on his experiences, Ron wrote How to Salvage Millions from Your Small Business, a guide for entrepreneurs, now in its third printing and licensed in five other languages.
In 2003, Ron and two partners purchased Ford Motor Company‘s auto salvage division. GreenLeaf had grown to 26 locations in 15 states and over 1,000 employees, but it was losing over $1,000,000 per month. Ron was in charge of legal, environmental, insurance, licenses and permits after the buyback. He held a board seat and contributed to improving sales and marketing, lowering costs in purchasing, and implementing better employee training programs.
After turning around GreenLeaf’s operation, Ron and his partners sold it to a $2 billion public company in 2005.
Ron’s currently manages his commercial real estate holdings and consults and speaks frequently on topics related to successful entrepreneurship. Ron’s second book, Green Weenies and Due Diligence, an insider’s guide to the colorful lexicon of the boardroom, was published in 2005.