Change can be exciting, thrilling and overwhelming all at the same time. But it can also be worth it. These three business owners started out chasing a career they thought was “the one” – until they discovered an entirely new journey that led them to great success (and to Bobcat equipment).

New Career in a New State

Randy Henry stands in front of his Bobcat T590 compact track loader

Randy Henry, owner of USA Grading

Randy Henry ran a tire facility in St. Louis, Missouri, for 25 years before he decided it was time to explore a change. With one son pursuing medical school, and the other entering college soon, he wanted to financially support  his sons as they chased their dreams. Randy’s brother-in-law had been pestering him for years about going to Florida to start a construction business. But, it wasn’t until 2004 that Randy decided he’d give it a closer look.

“I put him off for a couple years,” Randy says. “And then I said, ‘You know what, I think I’m going to try it out. I’m going to come down here for a week and take a look and see what you’ve got.’ And I did.”

After spending one week in the Sunshine State, Randy gave the tire shop a month’s notice and took the leap into a new state and a new career. When Randy and his brother-in-law started their business, USA Grading, Randy took on more of a supervisor role as he familiarized himself with the industry and the equipment. Now, 14 years later, he’s the general manager and runs a crew of 52.

The career move allowed Randy to successfully support both of his sons, and he says he hasn’t looked back.

From Homebuilder to Business Owner

Headshot of Craig Graef

Craig Graef, owner of Alterra Services

After completing the building construction program at Michigan State University, Craig Graef and his wife made the move to Texas, where he launched a career in home construction. He built homes for 15 years before he decided to take a look at other options.

“After 15 years of, you know, moving up and being area managers and things like that, I just got frankly burned out on it,” Craig says. “It’s an endless treadmill.”

After he left homebuilding, he had an opportunity to partner with an excavation company where he worked doing site prep. Unfortunately, with the economic downturn in 2008–2009, that partnership dissolved. Craig took this in stride and turned it into yet another career change. He decided to launch his own operation, Alterra Services, in 2010.A Bobcat T590 compact track loader dumps dirt at an Alterra jobsite

“I always liked [site prep],” Craig says. “I have been around that quite a bit growing up in Michigan. Started working with that partnership. I enjoyed it a lot, and from then decided well, we’ll give it a shot and do it ourselves.”

After making the move to go out on his own, Craig says he would’ve only done one thing differently.

“I wish I would have done it a lot sooner.”

Launching a Business at Age 19

Headshot of Chris Menn next to his Bobcat T650 compact track loader

Chris Menn, owner of C-R Menn Concrete

Chris Menn knew early on that he wanted to go out on his own – and decided to do it at only 19 years old.

“I quit my real job and started doing stamped, colored and decorative concrete; light residential driveways; and patios,” Chris says.

Before he began his solo adventure, Chris worked in a completely different field: sales at an auction company. Chris completed concrete jobs on the side for friends and family, and as more and more concrete projects came in, he realized his love for the work. He decided to start his own concrete company, C-R Menn Concrete, in 2007.  

The appetite for growth that got him started hasn’t ceased over the past decade. Bobcat T650 compact track loader moving pieces of concreteToday, Chris manages roughly 35 employees, and his company has reached gross sales of $5 million.

“I would love to take it to a $10 million company,” Chris says. “I want to double it one more time yet, and we’ll see if I’m happy then.”

If these three men were brave enough to take the plunge into a new career, who’s to say you aren’t, too? If you’ve been doing the same thing for forever and need to switch things up, a career change might be your next step.

For more business tips, check out this blog post with five annual planning tips to keep your business on track.

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