Spiros Raftis’ Five Sheets of Plywood
A scary statistic: 80 percent of all businesses fail within their first year in operation, and, of the survivors, 25 percent will fail within the next five—and, adds Spiros G. Raftis, author of Five Sheets of Plywood, the rest will suffer their next big failure 35 years later, when the founder runs out of steam. And he’d know: following humble beginnings, his parts foundry, the Red Valve Company of Carnegie, Pennsylvania sold its first million units after 11 years, and now, just past its 50th anniversary, employs his three children as well.
While very much a practical how-to guide to small business, Five Sheets of Plywood tells a compelling narrative as well. After a childhood spent working in the church at which his father served as a sexton, Raftis found himself an unemployed family man at the age of 26, when his boss decided to cut his commissions, despite his exceptional sales performance. Following the building of his first office space from the materials for which the book is named, his idea for a better machine valve made him millions and earned customers around the globe.
Along the way, he learned about all the things the small business owner needs to know but probably doesn’t, and to save the prospective entrepreneur wear and tear from learning at the School of Hard Knocks, he decided to write it all up in a book. In 150 pages, the reader will learn about location, insurance, wages, taxes, unions, lawyers, patents, banks, and, above all, the essentials of management. But more than just the pragmatics, the new owner will find homespun wisdom which can only come from a life spent taking a commercial concept from sweat equity to success. A few nuggets: “In your first three years, commit yourself to the bare essentials of subsidence”; “Businesses need two kinds of people: thinkers and doers: First get the doers”; and my personal favorite, “A business partner is like a marriage without the love.”
A special item of interest is the book’s focus on the creation of family businesses: an appendix written by two experts on “succession planning” is worth the cover price alone for anyone interested in creating a legacy enterprise. Subsequent chapters on dealing with sibling rivalries, youthful preparation, finding appropriate roles, and knowing when to relinquish the reins are probably unique in the literature, and written by a true expert.
For anyone that ever got downsized for being too competent in their field, thus threatening their boss’s job, or lost a week’s wages when their union negotiator conceded a mandatory “give-back,” Spiros Raftis’s story will come as a revelation, and an unparalleled guide to small business achievement.#
For further information contact Spiros G. Raftis via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.