Some thoughts from Apex Current Founder and CEO, Corbitt Chandler...
Last week, I received news that Apex Current has been nominated as a Finalist for The Birmingham Business Journal's 2018 Small Business Awards in the category of Small Business of the Year (under 10 employees).
When I realized the announcement wasn't a mistake, I sat in my office and cried. It was an extremely proud moment for me personally to see Apex recognized.
The business has grown extremely quickly and it has been an utter blessing, but it hasn't been without a great deal of personal sacrifice. As the saying goes, it takes an immense amount of pressure to create a diamond. I believe we're doing that, but we're still in those pressure stages.
So, since it has been such a wild ride (which is only still at the beginning stages), I thought I’d tell a little bit about the Apex Current story, share some thoughts as well as sort of do my first state of the union.
I founded Apex Current on September 1st of 2017, after consulting for about six months and then opened our first offices on January 1st, 2018. I won't go into my personal back story, but if you have not seen the below featurette by Yellowhammer News, it is worth 5 minutes of your time.
From the beginning of my consulting days, this concept took off like a rocket ship. I started doing things that scared me - like absolutely terrified me. I’m not sure why... I guess I felt I had nothing to lose so it was time to pull out all the stops for once in my life. I had been to the bottom so why not start climbing and try to see what the top looks like?
As I started taking risks, I got better. With each sales pitch, presentation, talk, etc. - that fear has never gone away (to this day). I still get it and it gives me chill bumps (which are easy to see on these shaved arms of mine). But, now, I LOVE the feeling and there's this sort of thrill of the moment where in my mind, I say to myself, "bring it on!" That fear means it’s game time. It’s time to hunt (which has transcended into how I run our digital paid advertising efforts and still press buttons to this day).
Trust me, things weren't always this way. This concept of rising to the challenge had died when I stopped playing sports in college. I hid behind the cloak of Corporate America for years and my battle with alcohol. I remember once literally trying to present in a meeting, panicking, letting everyone in the room KNOW I was panicking and walking out of the room. It's actually pretty hilarious now to think about.
There was this talk I listened to early in my consulting days where the speaker (named ET - Eric Thomas) was giving an analogy about being like a lion. I remember him saying from the perspective of the lion, “If I don’t ride, they don’t eat. If I don’t ride, they die,” meaning if a lion doesn’t hunt and kill it can’t survive nor can it’s Pride.
So that mantra began to ring true with me as I started to pursue growing Apex. Which started with the literal need of having to feed my family, and as we’ve grown, to my staff and ultimately causes we support and give back to.
That responsibility has weighed heavy, but has been well worth it. I have proven the ability to create opportunity and grow our revenue substantially. BUT, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit not without my failures. I haven’t done everything right. I’ve tried to be fair and honest. I’ve put in more hours on every client partner - big or small - than I can count. My main misstep has been spreading myself to thin. Not intentionally, but because I run very fast and hard.
We’re attempting now with solid new hires to create scale and more margin. Which for me when I talk about margin it specifically relates to my most valuable asset - time. Ultimately, that goal of scaling at Apex is so that we can provide better value by way of service and results for our client partners.
As we do this, we’ve found specific verticals where we can create massive scale. Really, the plan is for the business to split into multiple LLC’s based off these scalable verticals so we can speak to those industry's specific needs.
Apex Current will, of course, remain only aligning with large partners who can support the expertise and precision of what we do. My goal will be 5 to maybe 10 clients on the Apex side in pretty much any business segment we see opportunity and the ability to provide results. In these scalable verticals I'm referencing, the goal is literally 100's of clients as we create our assembly line.
I’m excited about our current direction and what the future holds for us. It’s truly an exciting time at Apex and, ultimately, to be alive!
If a guy like me can start a fast-growing company after 15 years of Corporate America and ESPECIALLY one that teeters on the edge of a technology company when I was basically tech illiterate 1.5 years ago - opportunity abounds for anyone who is willing to take risks and be uncompromisingly stubborn in their pursuits.
I have to give a big shoutout to the city of Birmingham and the entrepreneurial spirit of the people who call this amazing city their home. Apex Current has been embraced with open arms by the business community. So many have jumped on board, provided encouragement, support, connected me with other businesses owners and more.
It’s been amazing to see and makes me extremely proud of my hometown and to live here again after my over 10 years spent in Los Angeles (ironically, I’m on a flight to my “second home” LA as I write this blog post).
So, to bring things back around, as I mentioned, this journey is at the starting line with certainly more triumphs, opportunities, challenges and growing pains to come. I’m thankful to everyone who has been a part of this as it moves from its infancy to a toddler that’s a little hard for me to hold onto these days. As Apex grows up, I'm learning to let go of it more and trust my team as co-parents of this thing that I birthed. I'm having to accept that this isn't solely mine anymore, but it is my responsibility to lead it well.
Being honored in our category in the Small Business Awards as "Small Business of the Year" is SUPER cool, humbling and receiving word of the nomination is truly a feeling I will never forget. Especially with the incredible honorees in our category including; Fetch, Forge and Humphries Screen Printing. I personally know Kim Lee, the Founder of Forge, who is awesome and so incredibly passionate about what she does connecting business owners not only in her coworking space, but also throughout Birmingham.
I’m excited to attend the Small Business Awards and rub elbows with all of the amazing businesses that will be at the Harbert Center on July 26th. I'm sure I'll feel much the same as I do at this moment which is in awe that I am even allowed to be in the same room with so many that I admire.
I would be remiss if I didn't give gratitude to the people who helped the business get to where it is today. First off, my wife, Michelle, who ABSOLUTELY has played the largest part in all of this. My biggest supporter since the beginning, she bought into this idea and is my ROCK day in and day out.
Forrest Walden, the CEO of Iron Tribe Fitness, who recruited me back to Birmingham, is a friend, mentor and allowed me to begin consulting while the VP of Marketing at Iron Tribe.
Brad Bearden, who is an absolute master-level Facebook ninja and taught me and continues to mentor me to this day. He rubbed off on me in more ways than one and taught me to do things I never knew were possible.
The rest of the list I'll go through a little faster, but all of these individuals I could write volumes on... Taylor Wyatt, President of MotionMobs, has championed Apex since we moved into The Tower Building connecting us throughout the Birmingham business scene. I owe her A LOT for helping Apex become as established as it has this quickly.
All of the Apex Current clients for believing in what we do. And, last, but certainly not least, a big thanks to Ethan Voce and the rest of my amazing team whether you're full time, a contractor or vendor, etc. - you are absolutely crucial to the business and I so appreciate you taking this crazy ride with me.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and thank you all again for your support - big or small. However long this ride lasts, I'm living my dream right now in this moment and every single day.
A BIG congratulations to all of the businesses in each category!
Emerging Business of the Year
JaWanda's Sweet Potato Pies
Vulcan Solar Power
Innovation/Technology Company of the Year
Small Business of the Year (Less than 10)
Humphries Screen Printing
Small Business of the Year (11-24)
City Paper Company
STRADA Professional Services, LLC
Truitt Insurance & Bonding Inc
Watts Realty Co, Inc
Small Business of the Year (25+)
McDowell Security Services, LLC
Move & Store