Logan Hartle, president of Warwood Tool Company, located in Wheeling, West Virginia, talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about his company that makes American made tools, his worst business mistake and Hartle’s piece of advice to any entrepreneur.
Warwood Tool Company has forged world class, 100 percent U.S.A made hand tools of the highest quality for 164 years in West Virginia. Warwood tools have been used for coal mining to railroading to building U.S. transportation infrastructure to the Civil War and most famously, World Wars I and II. As a testament to Warwood Tool Company rich history, their manufacturing facility was featured on the History Channel’s documentary, The Men Who Built America.
How did you [Hartle] get into this business?
Hartle studied industrial engineering at West Virginia University, where he received a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering. He launched a decorative concrete business and won the West Virginia State collegiate business plan competition.
“My business partner and I were sitting around, and we’ve always been entrepreneurial, and I said ‘I really like what I do. I really like engineering and operation.’ And my business partner said ‘I really like what I’m doing.’ He was in sales and marketing. So we said, we’d like to do that for ourselves. We started asking around if there is anything for sale. We looked at a couple of places when a friend’s dad said, ‘you need to call this company. You have to call this guy. He’s almost 90. His children don’t want anything to do with this business.’
We picked up the phone and gave him a call and asked if he was interested in selling. He said he was, but he had some other outside the state offers. After hearing that there was a local who was interested, he was ecstatic.”
He and his two business partners purchased Warwood Tool Company in 2015.
What is the worst business moment you have had so far?
“The first year we bought, January 2015, and our fiscal year ends in June 2015. So for the first six months, the business was growing pretty well. We thought we were pretty good at this. That we were awesome. They’ve been doing this for 164 years, and we show up and the business is growing. We were pounding our chest pretty hard. Right around July 2015, the market started going down a little bit. The rail market is down. The coal market is down. The industrial market is down. And, the 2016 election cycle comes through and everybody is holding their money,” Hartle said. “It was like ‘holy cow, what has just happened.’ It felt like the rug has just been swept from right under us. And we went from a number they hadn’t hit in 10 years to the lowest number they’d had in 15 years. Meanwhile, we also had a lawsuit we were dealing with.”
“We thought we had this thing under control, and there’s a lot more to this than showing up.”
“I think a lot of the times when people look at entrepreneurship, they get the social media effect where everyone’s lives look rosy but in life we’re all dealing with stuff. It’s the same thing with entrepreneurship. It’s hard work. It’s tough. You’ve got hurdle after hurdle and it’s about being able to keep going.”
What is one piece of advice you would give a young entrepreneur?
“Preparation is one third, execution is two thirds.”
“Definitely do your homework, make sure you know the industry and know what you’re getting into,” advised Hartle. “When I left the roofing business, my wife asked me why I wanted to get out of it. I told her it’s just not for me. One of the things we discussed is if I did go into something again, it’s going to be something that I know because manufacturing is my background. And, it’s going to be something that I like. And, it has to be something that I can make a little bit of money out of.”
“There’s a lot of headaches with owning and running a business so there has to be a potentially financial reward at the end of it.”
“So, once you’ve done that, and you’ve prepared for it, you have to act. You have to go for it.”
Hartle was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to his full podcast here.
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