Plenty of Preparation
A Bluetooth device firmly affixed to one ear, and his pug, Bailey, tucked like a football under one arm, the jeans and polo-clad Richmond strides through Matrix—the team captain checking on his players, who include two long-time friends, Barrick—whom he has known since college and who helped him start the company—and director of production Nate Keller from grade school. Both agree that Richmond, 31, seems to have spent his life grooming himself for just this moment. He cut his teeth by selling his used video games to his middle school friends, got hooked on Rick Grosso sales tapes during his teen years, studied sales and marketing at Western Michigan University, then worked in retail for a national chain jewelry store and eventually got into the window industry with his older brother.
“I saw his success and I thought, ‘Whatever he can do, I can do better,’” Richmond says of his brother, who took a structured and disciplined approach to his work. Richmond says he learned more from his brother than he did from the window company whose philosophy was, “Here are some samples and here’s a lead.”
Richmond is candid about his working class background in Flint where his father was a millwright for General Motors for 35 years. “He’s like MacGyver,” Richmond says of the man who could fix anything. Richmond says he sometimes wishes he were more like his father, yet recognizes that, “Maybe not being able to do all that stuff has allowed me to be an entrepreneur.” But his inner drive was always about getting out of Flint in both a physical and a mental sense. “I don’t want to go back to that place. Failure can motivate you to try harder.”
And there were a few business failures before Matrix, such as the sunroom division that Richmond and his brother started in Michigan just as the economy tanked. “We dissolved it and moved on,” he says.
And now he presides over a company with 15 employees in the office, 35 in-house installers, and upward of 50 subcontractors in the field. He sits behind a big desk in his own office surrounded by what he calls a “collage of different places I’ve been”—from a record player with Jimi Hendrix queued up to a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon and a humidor.
He doesn’t let Matrix’s apparent success go to his head, and, when he talks about the imminent birth of his first child [his son, Nicholas, was born in August], he worries aloud how wealth might affect his son’s childhood. Richmond hopes that he himself can follow the example of his father-in-law, a successful restaurant owner: “He lives well but frugally. He’s the happiest man alive,” he says.