Steve Taepke has worked hard to be the greater Raleigh area’s one-stop shop for any restaurant, building, apartment, office, and commercial property needs. With over 20 years of experience at his craft, from repairing equipment to maintaining infrastructures and routine maintenance, Steve excels at helping businesses shine. Initially coming to the Creative Allies community for a new logo design campaign. now we want to find out what drives Steve, as an entrepreneur, to succeed as well as his experience with crowdsourcing.
I started out in quick service restaurants as a delivery guy in college. Some years later, I latched onto a local Jimmy John’s franchisee. We had only five units with aspirations to grow up to thirty in local areas.
The thing with quick service restaurants is that we have pretty slim margins. Our cost of goods sold and labor takes about 60% of the money that is total income. We really had to dial-in anything repair wise, which we did ourselves. Any kind of plumbing task, tile repair, equipment repair, and light electrical, we did it ourselves.
Being apart of a national brand, you have to keep up the appearance of the unit. As we took over some of the older units, there were cosmetic problems. And just by being aware of the profit to be made, we became well at fixing these various things.
What made you strike out on your own?
Managers at the time weren’t as handy or technical as I was. They would go, “It’s broken, fix it.” Their job was to sell the product and keep customers satisfied. It was my job as the facilities manager to fix things. It was actually great because it made me open my eyes to my own capabilities. For example, if you have fryer or sink that’s down, that causes an array of issues such as impedance of labor or morale of others. In the restaurant business, it’s so cut-throat and they’re dying for people to come and work for them. Low morale causes turnover– hence why its important to get your issues fixed immediately.
Why did you need a new logo?
My brother is into graphic design, so he played around with a couple logos for us. They were very abstract, which I didn’t want because I’m a classic kind of guy. I wanted a classic logo and something that was identifiable; whether it’s a truck, hat, or shirt.
I then got hooked up with Creative Allies and we got things going. It was awesome and there was no looking back from there. It was great we did this early in the process because there was a need for a logo on various things like uniforms.
How did you like crowdsourcing?
I liked that I wasn’t tied to one person or someone that didn’t understand my vision. Crowdsourcing was great because I had at least 200 different logos to choose from. The neat aspect is that you aren’t married to a single design. If there happen to be some you don’t like while viewing, you can continue viewing. Once you find a design you like and maybe want to make revisions to it, you totally can.
Does your new logo help with business confidence?
It’s a lot like the idea of carrying business cards. Just be confident with it because someone’s bound to ask a question about your business. Even if that person doesn’t have anything for me to do, the ultimate key is networking.
Lastly, what drives you?
The entrepreneurial spirit. I love it. I go out there and it’s all me. My past jobs were centered around people who probably didn’t care that much and where things rarely changed. Now, things are focused around me. I get to go out there and sell myself and skills. I love what I do because of my schedule as well. There’s two young kids I have at home, so if needed, I’m able to be there for them. It’s great to have that freedom to take out time and be home with the family.
See the full conversation with Steve here and then tell us about your business owning experiences in the comments below!