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Shifting gears.

Remember the timeworn adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again"? Richard S. Stone certainly does. In 1987 when Stone was a control room operator monitoring computer systems for E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. in Aiken, S.C., he launched a part-time business that sold imported wood carvings from Africa and Pakistan. His goal: To carve a niche in the imported gift industry. "I thought my ideas were great," Stone reflects. "I approached Macy's and Wal-Mart, but I realized I didn't have enough business savvy." There was another problem. Stone wasn't making any money. "I spent close to $20,000 of my own money on this business since 1987, and I've grossed only $5,000 to date," he says.

In 1989, he used another $5,000 in savings to start SamRos Enterprises Inc., a North Augusta, S.C., distributor of industrial, electrical and hardware supplies. His six-employee firm sells lamps, cutting tools, batteries and hand trucks.

"After talking to a number of businesspeople I discovered there was a real need for these products," says the 35-year-old Stone, adding that he left Du Pont in 1991 to become a full-time entrepreneur. "Without them [industrial supplies], businesses would shut down."

The most difficult part of being his own boss, says Stone, has been breaking into a well-established distribution network. "You have companies that have been carrying a particular product line for over 25 years," Stone notes. However, networking like crazy and putting in 60-hour work weeks has helped him break that stranglehold.

Stone's client roster includes Martin Marietta Corp., Lockheed Corp. and United Technologies Corp. Gross sales for the first three quarters of 1992 were $600,000, and Stone projects sales of $750,000 for the entire year.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:SamRos Enterprises Inc., North Augusta, South Carolina distributor of industrial, electrical and hardware supplies
Author:Pouliot, Janine S.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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