Maverick Metal Trading, Inc. - Your Hometown Steel Source
2402 S. Kaufman, Ennis, Tx 75119 Phone 972-875-9597 Fax 972-875-9835
Feb 2007, by Ben Brooks
Maverick Metals Celebrates 5 Years
Five years ago and just a few months after the country was rocked by the attacks of Sept. 11, Brad Lane made a life changing decision. He had a stable job, working in the metal industry – an industry he had worked in for 17 years. But after the world changed on 9-11, he decided to take a chance and make a change of his own by opening his own business.
“You hear the saying that 'it's not the destination, it's the journey that counts,'” Lane said. “If your not enjoying the journey, change it. I kept thinking about the guys on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. They knew where they were going, and decided to change the course.”
Now in it's fifth year of business, Lane's Maverick Metal in Ennis continues to grow and prosper. The journey hasn't been an easy one, but it's clear that Lane has found what he was looking for. And in a business climate and industry dominated by the big chain stores, Maverick Metal has carved out a niche and built a loyal following of customers who appreciate the service they get from what started out as a one man show.
“The best thing about what I am doing now is being able to talk to my customers and helping them solve their problems,” Lane said.
Sitting down with Lane in his office at 2402 S. Kaufman, he is comfortable and relaxed, but the stacks of papers on his desk and the steady ring of incoming calls testify that his days are busy and his business is growing.
When he started Maverick Metal, the business consisted of a small steel warehouse and Lane was the only employee. Soon his wife Debbie was pitching in at nights, helping with the bookkeeping, even though the couple was also running a separate business in downtown Ennis.
The days were long but Lane was used to hard work and little sleep. Back in his college days, he had worked nights and gone to school during the day, sleeping as little as 3 hours out of every 24.
“If I came home and there was a newspaper there, I knew I had to go to class. If I came home and my roommates were awake, I knew I had to go to work,” Lane said of those sleepless college days. “It just went round and round. There's no way I could do that now. I'm too old.”
It wasn't long before the Lanes decided to close the downtown business and put all of their efforts into Maverick Metal, where customers were fast learning they could get a level of service that was often hard to find in the “big box” stores Lane was competing with. The new customers brought new requests and Maverick Metal was quick to respond to their needs.
“We started off as just a small steel warehouse,” Lane said. “There was a need for metal buildings in this area and since I had the experience we started that. Now we do a lot more metal buildings than I thought we would do.”
That ability to listen to his customers, adapt and add the products they want is a big part of Maverick Metal's success.
“If different people ask me for something three times, I'll bring it in,” Lane said.
It wasn't long before Lane learned of another need and moved to meet it.
“A lot of my customers were asking about recycling so we added recycling and this year we have have added glass (recycling),” he said. “The city of Ennis does not recycle glass in their recycling program.”
As the business grew, so did it's payroll. Lane now employs three others and plans to add two more this year, while Debbie continues to do the company's books. The extra help has allowed Lane to continue focusing on what he enjoys most about about the business – helping customers with their specific needs. Sometimes, that means getting them what they want, even if he isn't the one who sells it to them.
Maverick metal does business and consults with ag-tech and FFA programs at the schools in Ennis, Maypearl, Red Oak, Rice and others. He recently had a new customer from a Dallas area school and ask for a specific product that he needed in a hurry and in a quantity Lane didn't have in stock. Lane connected the customer with a supplier close to him who could get what he was looking for right away without having to ship it. That's the kind of service his customers appreciate and it keeps them coming back.
Another recent customer was frustrated with the big chain supplier he was dealing with. He had been looking for a metal building, but the price seemed to go up each time he talked to them.
The customer said he “needed a firm quote with an exact price.”
Lane's response: “We can do that.”
Because his customers have learned that they're going to get honesty and a straightforward approach from Lane and Maverick Metal, many have become friends. When the business first started, Lane had a picnic table in the front office where customers would come sit and enjoy coffee.
“I had one customer come in one time and he sat down and was eating lunch,” Lane said. “I said, Hey, what do you need? What can I do for you? And he said, 'Nothing. I just needed a place to sit down and eat lunch.'”
The picnic table has since been replaced by merchandise, but our customers are still welcome to come by and shoot the breeze, and many do.
Maverick Metal doesn't do the same volume of business as their big-chain competitors, but for Lane that's not what's important. He has business relationships across a 25 mile radius around Ennis and beyond, and his customers are much more than numbers on a page. He has enjoyed the support of this community and in return enjoys giving them a level of service that many may have thought was a thing of the past.
“We're very happy with the area's support. They've been very good to us,” Lane said.
In response Lane has kept focus on taking care of customers as individuals, making sure they get the attention, help and commitment they've come to expect.
“Service is our big thing. When people call they won't get a list of extensions, They'll actually be able to talk to somebody,” he said.
If that attitude makes Lane a maverick in a big-volume industry, he's fine with that. And Maverick Metal's success over the last five years would indicate that his customers are with that, too.