Lucas Botkin is the CEO and founder of T-Rex Arms a well known holster manufacturing company that was started only a few years ago. The company exploded and has grown quickly. It is debt free, employs three people full time and two people part time, the company broke six figures in a year, and has 23,000 followers on Instagram. Their equipment has been featured in magazines, on websites, and is widely known in the self defense industry. I’m very excited to bring this interview to you all. It took me a very long time to get it so enjoy!
Why this business?
I started T-Rex arms because I wanted to help people, and I was watching the holster market and seeing a lot of holsters out there that weren’t very effective. I wanted to make a more effective product to make more effective shooters. I wanted to make a product that was very high quality and have very good customer service; I wanted to have really good marketing and then I also wanted to use the company as a platform to teach people and instruct people in more effective weapon manipulation, how the legal system works with shooting and carrying a fire arm, and the importance of having a warrior mindset to protect people. Having a company like that gives me the platform and gives me some credibility so I can teach on that using my company.
I started the company a year and a half ago in September of 2013, it’s now a full time job for me and two other people and we’re hiring two more people. We supply holsters to thousands of people including special operations, individuals, law enforcement, competition shooters and civilians like me.
What were your goals in starting this business?
The primary goal of the business was to help people. The secondary goal was I needed a job and it’s now my full-time job which is very helpful. The third goal was I wanted to give people employment in my church, and creating a manufacturing company allows me to do that, if the company gets big enough because with manufacturing companies you can hire a lot of people generally if they get big. But the main goal was just to help people, so I could establish some credibility to teach on things and produce effective equipment to help make people better shooters which make them better protectors.
What are some things you did to get your business off the ground?
The main thing I focused on was marketing because what I first did was studied all of the different holster companies out there and what they were doing or what they weren’t doing, the main thing that I found was that they had low standards for media and promotions, they weren’t marketing very much if at all. So what I did was I had a very good website, I attacked marketing very viciously mostly social media, because that’s something they didn’t do. I had high standards for all my photography, the website, the writing for the product descriptions, just high standards for everything; essentially so the company would look extremely professional right off the bat. Most companies start off very unprofessional and then later they get more professional as they get bigger, I wanted to be professional right off the bat. So that’s what I targeted doing, that set me apart from all the other companies and because of that the company exploded very quickly, and I attribute most of that to the marketing. Because people aren’t going to buy a product if they can’t even find the product, because they have to find the product to even know if they can buy it or if they should buy it, so marketing was the main thing that I focused on first.
What are some lessons you’ve learned through this?
If you start a company you have to work extremely hard, you don’t really get any perks for being a CEO until the company is off the ground. I work six days a week from when I wake up to when I go to bed I still do, although now I have the flexibility to take time off whenever I want … almost. But when I first started the company it meant skipping parties, skipping weddings, skipping events, skipping personal things that I wanted to do, and just working like a mule for the first year. And most people have to understand that if they want to start a company, you can’t just start a company and expect to take time off whenever you want, that usually doesn’t happen until quite a bit later, so you just have to work super hard if you want to if you’re a CEO. As soon as you start hiring people you’re responsible for them, if you slacken your job than sales drop and that means you may have to fire people, and firing people means that they’re out of a job. You’re responsible as a CEO.
What kept you going?
What kept me going was my desire to help people; that really what kept me going over anything else. With all the people that stabbed me in the back and hated on my company, I was still able to help hundreds of people I’ve gotten emails from people every week and the encouragement helped a lot but what really kept me going is knowing that I’m helping people in doing this business. It’s not just a business that’s making money it’s also a business that’s actively helping people and that’s what keeps me going.
What are some tips you have for the readers?
Work extremely hard and don’t take anything for granted. Probably the most important thing is to work hard in anything you do. Do it as if you’re doing it to the LORD, that’s the main thing which means you have to work extremely hard you can’t really do anything half way you have to go all the way if you want to do something, like I did for my company and like I’m still doing. So just work really hard. Most people think if they’re a CEO they get all the benefits and perks right away, but that doesn’t happen, you have to work hard, because you’re responsible for the customers, you’re responsible for whoever you hire, you’re responsible for your time and how you spend it obviously, so there’s no time to just piddle around.