The Ed Keels Story

If you are extended an offer to work with me, you should have information about me, so you can decide if I will be the right mentor for you. If you will be following my advice, then you deserve an understanding of the basis for that advice.

 

I want to first talk about our relationship with money. Whether you know it or not, we all have a unique relationship with money. The realization of mine came in adulthood when watching a TV sitcom. In one scene when talking about money, a daughter said, “But we are rich. Right?” the father replied, “Well, your mother and I are doing quite well.”  This was my revelation moment. While my parents did okay financially and as a kid, I was well taken care of, I didn’t have the use of or control of their money. 

That is why I am very sure from an early age, even though I lacked the understanding of my motivation for my actions, I nonetheless gravitated to earning and hence controlling my own money.

 

For example, when I was about eight years old and awoke to my neighborhood blanketed with a fresh snowfall, instead of grabbing my sled like my friends, seeing opportunity I first grabbed my snow shovel and made some money. Shoveling neighbors’ walkways and driveways paid really well. Later with a pocket full of money, I would join my friends and sled the day away. This lifelong habit has caused my son to dub me, “the king of delayed gratification”. It is a title I wear proudly. In fact, I have a difficult, if not impossible time enjoying anything until my work is done.

 

A few years later when I was ten, I launched a start-up partnership with my cousin. We bought containers of Italian ice from a local wholesale supplier in Camden, New Jersey and sold scoops to consumers. To put some perspective on how successful we were, the money we were making in 1964 was equal to the cost of tuition at Harvard at that time. Shortly thereafter, my parents finished building a beach house and moved us to Sea Isle City, NJ.  I learned to surf and did so every single day of my life, sometimes even before school. One day in loading my board on a car rack to go to another surf site, my board was dinged, meaning the fiberglass that coated the foam core was cracked. There is no surfing with a fractured board, so I took my board to the only surf shop in town for repair. The repair was completed with colored fiberglass that did not match anything on my board, and the sloppy repair took a week. Now that may not seem like a long time, but that is at least 10% of my summer!  I was mad and immediately went to ‘herein lies an opportunity.’ I bought three books on fiberglass and surfboard manufacturing and repair. Using that knowledge, I fixed the botched job done on my board and honed my practical skills. After mastering fiberglass repair skills, I started a business, offering “Overnight” board repair with quality satisfaction or your money back. With no one having to miss even one wave, I stole nearly 100% of the surf shops repair business.

 

I didn’t realize it until later in life, but this “noticing a need as an opportunity and then studying and mastering a craft to then satisfy that need” would become my habit, my history and a powerful money-making tool.

 

When I was about eleven my dad decided that I needed to go to work with him. He was a manager of three large resorts in Atlantic City, NJ in the days prior to gambling. The three properties comprised several thousand rooms and multiple food and beverage venues. Dad decided I should start as a dishwasher, then move to busboy and short order cook. As he moved to other jobs in his career, he moved me to lifeguard, bar back, maintenance man, front desk and night auditor. While I didn’t realize it at the time, those experiences were critical to my first hand understanding of all of the innerworkings of the resort, retail, food & beverage and hospitality industries. That training allowed me the ability to open my first bar and restaurant at the age of 20, back when the drinking age was just 18.  At the same time that I launched the bar/restaurant, I also completed a start-up men’s clothing store partnership.  My partner owned several other businesses, which he had me help manage; among those was an apartment complex, old time ice cream parlor and two movie theatres.

 

At this point, having been self-employed most of my life and with a second child on the way, I took an irresistible job offer from what was one of this country’s biggest corporations. The company owned 4.2 million acres of managed timberland and did everything you could do with a tree. They made utility poles, plywood, dimensional lumber, corrugated boxes and paper. Over my four years with the company, I had the unique opportunity to learn many facets of manufacturing and to tour all of these different manufacturing operations.  What an education!

 

From there I took a job as the first National Recruiting and Training Director for Domino’s Pizza,

a job I quit after only a week.  What I learned in that week was how to structure the quick roll out of a new franchise, but unfortunately, what I also learned was enough to make me realize that my level of professionalism and theirs were not a good match.

 

Over roughly the next twenty years or so, some of what I did was start and operate multiple companies that:

  • Provided inventory services and loss prevention services to bars and restaurants
  • Offered small business consulting services
  • Sold insurance, investments and home mortgages
  • Trained bankers on their own financial products and services and how best to sell them
  • Purchased real estate, then renovated and either flipped or held as managed rentals

Then there was a defining moment. I started a building materials distribution company. It was hugely successful but crashed and burned. It taught me things that changed my personal life and business paradigm forever. A banker that I had done business with for years, lied to me and failed to come through with the funding he promised. I eventually found other funding but, by the time I did we had already dug a hole of debt that was so deep we could not dig out. That situation prompted the financial downslide and ultimate failure of the business. What I learned is bankers do not know what their bank will fund and will not fund. Attorneys and CPAs are not business people and are of little help when properly forming, running and or dissolving your company. They are simply not business people, so their advice can not only be worthless but can, in fact, be detrimental to your financial well-being. As was the case in my situation.  Bad advice from my accountant and attorney made my already bad situation worse. This realization that attorneys, CPAs, the SBA and incorporation companies know little about business but are not shy about charging us for their less than comprehensive advice was eye opening for me.  I was astonished to learn that there are only two states that require licensing or training to prepare business or personal tax returns! What?  Most attorneys would recommend you use either an LLC or S-Corp. for your business structure. But, almost none of them, when pressed, could provide you with specific reasons why.  They do not understand the repercussions of their own expense advice.

This experience was the foundation for the formation of my company Beyond Breakeven, Inc. 

I remember at the time thinking, no one should ever have to go through the legal, personal and business problems, drama and pain I was going through simply because of receiving bad advice from “so-called” professionals. So, I did what I have always done. I studied like crazy, paid for training and gained experience by putting that training to work. In fact, I estimate that over the past twenty years or so, I have invested not only my time, but on average, over $10,000 per year in courses, coaching, workshops, tools, etc., all in efforts to further my business education and expertise. I continue to do this today because just one new idea or resource can be a game changing money generator. I totally believe what my dad has always said.. “If you are not moving forward then you are moving backward.”

 

I went on to study, learn and be certified as a business analyst and business valuation, forensic accounting and funding expert. Then in 2003 I formed Beyond Breakeven, Inc. to use my knowledge, expertise and in-market experience to help business owners and wannabe business owners.  

Over the next fifteen years of providing 100% funding for business buyers, we learned just how difficult it is to deal with business brokers.  My clients, from all across the nation, complain about how brokers do not return their calls, act like they don’t even care if they sell a business and request personal information like copies of buyer’s investment account statements or bank statements showing that they have at least $200,000 available to do the deal.  Using money as a qualifier, disqualifies most potential buyers. So, it is no wonder that the business brokering industry reports a success rate of between only 10% and 20%.

 

I formed Profit Architects, Inc. to help alleviate buyer frustrations, but to also help the other side: business sellers. The plan and goal is to reduce buyer frustration, make businesses easier to buy, increase the business profitability and increase the number of closings for sellers. To accomplish this, Profit Architects are trained and certified to be business consultants and business brokers who can use the Beyond Breakeven, Inc. funding system that has an 80% success rate! The goal is to make a difference. 

 

When I was a youngster, I always thought there would be an old guy who would take notice of my ambition and work ethic and put his arm around me and say, “You remind me of myself, let me show you the secrets of real business”. But that never happened. Then one day I looked in the mirror and realized I had become that guy. I found my purpose… and it is to help as many businesses and people to prosper as I can. It is bigger than me and I cannot do it alone. That is the reason for training of consultants and brokers who first, share my deep desire to use their talents to make other people’s lives better. If you find yourself on a similar path, then I hope we can join efforts and I become your mentor.

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