I remember when the AZ State Parks was looking at closing our local Roper Lake State Park. I met with the managing ranger to talk with him and look over the parks financial statements to see where the money was going. After spending some time with him, and analyzing the revenue and expenditures from the park, it was simple to see the problem. Unfortunately, it was a little more difficult to find the solution. Because of my business background and common sense, I again sat down with the ranger to discuss the parks expenditures and revenue in a little more detail.
Throwing money at the problem wasn’t the answer to fixing the problem. Nobody had the money to develop a sustainable revenue stream without creating another tax, “and I was dead set against that”. Many parks throughout the state worked hard to developed a one or two year influx of revenue that would then go away. That wasn’t an answer in my book. We realized that there were some costs that could be eliminated by enlisting local entities to perform tasks that would not result in additional fees or taxes. We were also able to create more efficiencies in the park's operation. With that information I met with the local entity leaders. Working together, we were able to put together a multi-entity agreement which brought the expenditure level below the revenue of the park.
After meeting with the State Parks Director and the AZ State Parks Board, our plan was unanimously approved by the board. We have been able to keep the park open and operating in the black to this day. The agreement is renewed every 3 years and, as the park improves its revenue, we plan to dissolve the contract. Because of the business and common sense approach to the problem, the State Parks Board recognized and awarded me for innovative thinking and creating an agreement different and more sustainable than any other park project in the state. I thank my parents, colleagues, past employers and friends for teaching me the common sense business approach to solving problems and thank the Lord for helping me retain it.
Being raised in a farm and ranch atmosphere is one of the biggest blessings in my life. It taught me how to work hard. It made me learn fast how to work smart. It was a life I wish I could have raised my children in. We lived 20 miles from town, but my parents made sure I was involved in sports and school activities. We didn't miss many. Don’t get me wrong, I still had to do all my chores before and after any events I was involved in. It didn’t matter what time I got home from that football game or track meet, I still had to feed the animals and milk the cow.
I started driving tractor at 8 yrs. old and drove my first D9 Caterpillar at 12 yrs. old. We grew mostly alfalfa hay for Chino, CA, and the Hackberry Ranch near Duncan. Irrigating, cutting hay, and hauling hay got priority over most everything at our place. We were pretty modern because we had a pickup with a phone in it, but you had to park in a certain place on the hill to make and receive phone calls. Oh, and the horn would honk when someone would call! We had animals like most everybody, with hogs, chickens and cattle for our meat. Of course we grew corn, vegetables and good ole watermelons. We worked hard and we played hard, we weren’t perfectionists but we worked hard till we got it right or we would do it again till we did. This was where good work ethics and common sense were learned and developed. My dad always said that your word and reputation is all you got, because money comes and goes, and people too. I know we will probably never get back to those days, but we need to protect the rural lifestyle we do have and not let government destroy it by taking away our rural businesses and family operations. Sadly, the city doesn’t always recognize the values of our country and state.
When I opened Drew & the Crew Motorsports and picked up the Suzuki motorcycle dealership line, I was able to bring my son in as a full partner. We enjoyed a good 7 years of working together and growing customers right and left. We grew our market to become the number one market for several categories in the industry. Then at the start of the great recession, the banking industry was struggling to stay alive. To recover their losses they decided to restructure their flooring (inventory financing) policies for motorcycle and off road vehicles throughout the USA. The sudden lack of substantial capital forced many small dealerships throughout the USA to close, including ours. Only the giant dealerships survived. My son had to move to Colorado for a job to take care of his family. I started spending more time in another business my wife and I owned and got more involved in County and State politics.
After 10 hard years of building our other business, Debbie and I were able to sell the it, giving me the time to pursue a career in public service. Because of my business and government background I am able to see, not just how things are being done, but the inefficiencies of government, and at the same time understand the struggles in rural Arizona, especially for small business owners. With this experience I can continue to work at the capital, keeping my family, neighbors and friends in rural Arizona in the fore front of my thoughts when it comes to legislation trying to be passed or changed.
I’ve always enjoyed business ventures. My father had an entrepreneurial spirit and I think it was passed on down to his 4 sons and 2 daughters. At one time, my brothers and sisters were involved in management/ownership of businesses in the Gila Valley with a combined total exceeding half a million dollars in annual salaries. I’ve had many business ventures. Some have been with family, some with partners, some as small corporations, and many as sole proprietor. These different types of relationships have prepared me to work on diverse problems with differing partners.
Working hard, long hours was the easy part, because I was taught and raised with strong work ethics. But, dealing with regulations, taxes, and the responsibility of providing for your employees' families was sometimes very difficult. Always writing employees' paycheck first, taking care of business operations, and then giving yourself a check has sometimes been a struggle. It's frustrating putting in 70 to 80 hours a week and then writing those checks for payroll taxes, state and federal taxes, and regulatory compliance. I went into business to provide products and services to my customers. I want to ease that burden as much as possible so you can enjoy staying in business and contributing to your community and family.