The second time Jay Richmond got laid off in this down economy, he began thinking out of the box.
And that led him to think about the one job he really liked: picking up extra money delivering pizzas for Mr. Jim's in Arlington and Mansfield.
Richmond, 37, of Keller, had lost one job installing fire alarms. Later, after getting a business degree at Dallas Baptist University, he saw his job with a national auto finance company disappear.
"When I got laid off the second time, I decided to do what I enjoyed." Except, "now I had a family and thought that as a delivery guy, this couldn't sustain you careerwise. But as an owner it could."
Richmond scoured the county for the right opportunity before deciding to buy a Mr. Jim's location in North Richland Hills that had operated 26 years before closing the year before, an apparent victim of the economy. The landlord's offer included the equipment, helping hold his startup costs to about $50,000 -- which he borrowed from JP Morgan Chase using stock he owns as collateral -- and he opened in October.
A teenage employee soon mentioned that local units of Chik-fil-A, Quizno's and Woolley's Frozen Custard sold at Richland High School during lunch, but there was no pizza. And none of the others took credit and debit cards. So Richmond did.
He began at Richland on Mondays and Fridays, then added Tuesdays and Thursdays at Birdville and Wednesdays at Haltom, the Birdville district's other high schools.
The school lunch sales have been a boon for Richmond's fledgling enterprise, providing about 30 percent of sales. "High schools definitely represent my biggest client. I wouldn't have as many employees otherwise."
And there are other dividends.
"The best marketing is just me being there. It gives exposure to my pizza."
Richmond is looking to expand into other districts and possibly open, or reopen, a few more stores. He has a full-time manager and 10 part-timers, with an 11th about to be hired.
While he could pay drivers $4.25 an hour, he gives $6.25 "because I know what it's like at that level."
"You work off tips and sometimes there are $40 or $50 orders and they don't give you anything."
Sales in 2012 could hit $550,000, which could mean a six-figure income for Richmond. But it's not exactly Easy Street yet.
"I work at least 80 hours a week -- and that's down, honestly. When I first opened I worked 96 hours. My wife constantly tells me to take more 'me' time.
"I'd love to get it down to where I don't have to come in at all." he said.
Machine shop mergers
Gridiron Capital, a Connecticut private equity company, is amassing a portfolio of small machining companies that produce parts for the aerospace industry.
H.M. Dunn Co. of Euless, a longtime aerospace industry supplier acquired last year by Gridiron, has now acquired Nex-Tech Aerospace, a Wichita, Kan., machine shop.
"We thought it would be a great fit," Gridiron managing director Geoffrey Spillane told the Wichita Eagle about the latest acquisition. Dunn and Nex-Tech, formerly Thayer Aerospace, both make "precision machine components and assemblies" for the aerospace industry. "We intend, frankly, to grow both businesses."
Gridiron, in a statement, said Nex-Tech's Thomas Gibbons will be chief executive and head of the combined company. Gridiron took a major ownership stake in H.M. Dunn in August, with longtime owner James Fultz retaining a share of the company.
New seating plan
There's a management change in the works at the top of Recaro Aircraft Seating, the German company that operates an airliner seat assembly plant at Fort Worth's Alliance Airport.
Axel Kahsnitz, CEO of the company since October 2007, is resigning effective April 1.
He will be replaced by Mark Hiller, who has been chief operating officer since 2007 and a member of Recaro Group management since 2003.
Kahsnitz is leaving Recaro for "a new professional challenge," the company said in a release issued Wednesday.
Under Kahsnitz, Recaro underwent a significant restructuring and saw worldwide sales increase by more than 25 percent since 2008, the company said.
Recaro is a major provider of seats to airlines for installation in new and refurbished airliners and employs about 300 at its Fort Worth facility. American Airlines, Delta and United have all been among its customers.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727
Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808
Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718