Through trials and triumphs, Ray Sickles, owner of Gurkee’s Rope Sandals, brought the company to West Virginia and has continued to succeed in this industry. Through his experience, Sickles has four pieces of advice that he thinks will help entrepreneurs who want to learn how to do business in West Virginia.

Know when to quit, or don’t.how to do business in West Virginia

Have you ever heard about the Three Feet from Gold story?  In Napoleon Hill’s book called Think and Grow Rich, he tells us of R. U. Harby.

To make a long story short, Harby’s uncle convinced him to move west and start digging for gold after finding a vein of gold himself. Harby borrowed and borrowed from friends and family to get west. For a while, gold was running like a river, and then one day, it stopped.

After continuing to try and find another vein, Harby and his uncle packed up their belongings, sold the machinery to a junk man and went back east.

The junk man hired a mining engineer who calculated that there was gold three feet under. The junk man made millions.

Sickles has applied this kind of thinking to his own business, “Know when to quit, or don’t,” said Sickles. “I just don’t quit.”

Don’t expect to grow rich overnight.

Sickles has been through many hardships including losing six figures because production halted on his sandals prior to him purchasing the licensing and company, to not having the proper manufacturing machinery after buying the company.

Gurkee’s was founded in 1984 after the original owner started a relationship with a jail in Mexico that offered to produce their rope sandals.

Sickles got involved in the business in 1997 after his wife came home wearing a pair. He found a manufacturer, built a web page and started selling sandals.

From that time up until today, 2018, Sickles feels that he is not done improving his business. “There’s no get rich quick scenario,” said Sickles. “Look at what resources you have yourself.”

Sickles applied this to Gurkee’s after finding that he had not bought the manufacturing equipment for his company. He remember that he had pictures of the equipment and eventually developed the machinery himself.

Think long term, not short.

There are many distractions that can arise on your business journey; however, Sickles advises, “Try to stay focused on where you are headed.”

Thinking about short term issues could hurt you in the long run. As a business owner, you can easily get caught up in daily details, but you should push through and think about what you want to be doing to achieve success for the future.

Instead of responding to rapidly changing situations to achieve quick wins, build lasting stability.

Instead of investing small amounts of money into your business, invest larger.

Do not expect smaller and quick returns on your investments, instead look for those larger and slower returns.

While it is good to think about how you can improve the products you have, also think about new business areas you can grow into.

Don’t be afraid to do business in West Virginia.

A lot of entrepreneurs are afraid of doing business in West Virginia because they haven’t researched the many industries West Virginia can serve.

Just as Sickles brought Gurkee’s Rope Sandals to this great state, other entrepreneurs can bring their business ideas here, too.

“West Virginia is close to a lot of different markets,” said Sickles.

“To be in business in West Virginia, you have to have a company and a product” continued Sickles. “But, you also have to learn to be creative.

Sickles was a guest on Positively West Virginia. To listen to the full podcast, click here.


4 Pieces of Advice from Ray Sickles on How to Do Business in West Virginia

  • Know when to quit, or don’t.
  • Don’t expect to grow rich overnight.
  • Think long term, not short.
  • Don’t be afraid to do business in West Virginia.