We recently connected with Logan Fahey and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Logan , thanks for joining us today. Can you talk to us about your team building process? How did you recruit and train your team and knowing what you know now would you have done anything differently?
Over the last five years, I’ve had the privilege of building one of the best teams in the industry and its come from a philosophy of an “open hiring model” – we’ll hire anyone, regardless of background, education, etc – so long as they have the motivation, loyalty and drive to be successful. The best example of this and a pivotal moment in my career is the hiring of Ellen Bruno our now COO and partner in Fahey Group. When we were starting our first business I almost passed on even interviewing Ellen due to her lack of experience in both the green industry and management – however, I was convinced by a colleague to interview her and we offered her the position the same day. Ellen has become one of the most (if not the most) important executives as we have scaled Fahey Group companies and Robin Autopilot, our main venture.
Throughout the last several years we’ve made several amazing hires and hired some of the worst fits possible. Personally, I’ve learned that the ones that have made it and have made our businesses a huge success, often are not the ones with the resume that matches the job description. It takes longer to find, but if you take the time to understand the individuals ability to learn a new skill, level of projected loyalty and overall character – the probability of success will be significantly better.
A couple of cool examples:
Restaurant Manager turned Head of Technical Installations
JC Penny Store Clerk turned Head of Operations
Digital Marketing Manager turned General Manager of Outdoor Supply Company
Ex-Offender / Stay at Home Mom turned Executive Vice President
Logan , love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I started in the green industry in 2010, when I was a sophomore in high school. I started off going door-to-door selling lawn care and made into a business, which I later sold in 2012. Fast forward a decade and I’m the current CEO and Chairman of Robin Autopilot, USA the World leader in Robots as a Service (RaaS) in the robotic lawn care sector – my heart never left the space, but I love technology.
In between 2012-2022, I had the privilege of launching several ventures – some successful, some failures. Most notably I started a chain of retail bakeries that hires ex-offenders, now called Oanest (originally Bloom Bakery), acquired a 85-year-old chain of lawn and garden stores and successfully turned them to profitability and exited on two of them and spent years advocating for social enterprises and social venture work to meld together profit and doing good – especially in the ex-offender space.
Outside of my professional career, I’ve severed on several boards including the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland and I currently sit on the national board for the Social Enterprise Alliance. I live with my fiancé, Luke and our 1-year-old English bulldog, Benji.
Can you talk to us about your experience with buying businesses?
We’ve acquired several businesses – mostly distressed assets. I started acquiring businesses when I was doing consulting work for small businesses and I started to realize I was building other peoples businesses and earning no upside. My first major deal was equity in lieu of consulting fees, which ended up turning into a project where we acquired the entire business (Landmark Lawn and Garden Supply). The success of this deal really launched us on a path of focusing on turning distressed assets into profitable businesses.
As of today, we focus on solving problems through technology in the green industry. Some of our acquisitions have been targeted at buying age old companies and infusing automation/robotics to reduce SG&A operating costs. We are heavily focused on the green industry due to the national labor shortage and recent regulations putting pressure on green industry companies to be more sustainable and eliminate petrol powered equipment.
Do you have any stories of times when you almost missed payroll or any other near death experiences for your business?
I can share countless stories of barely surviving, largely because we are risk takers. I will also say we have learned from our mistakes in overcommitting. I have a tendency to shoot before I aim and overtime I’ve surrounded myself with colleagues who help keep the business grounded and help project mistakes. All of that being said, here’s some good examples when we almost lost everything:
When I took on my first “entrepreneurial project” and took equity in lieu of pay, I was making no money for over a year and had no savings. I lived off credit cards, took out high-interest loans and nearly went bankrupt. I remember a pivotal point as the electric company was knocking on the front door to shut off the power at my house and being too embarrassed to answer – when the lights went off, I’ll never forget the feeling in my stomach. These experiences are traumatizing in the moment, however – these experiences helped prepare me for the war that are start-up’s and entrepreneurial ventures.
Another example I’ll share on more of the company side. We had recently acquired the lawn and garden stores were quickly getting into other ventures – including other lawn care companies and starting to get into robotic lawn mowers. We grew too fast during the “season” and when it came to “off-season – winter” – we hadn’t planned a way to survive. We barely made payroll, key staff took deferments and we once again bailed ourselves out by using our own debt and equity.