Hal Shevers owns Sporty’s (https://www.doctoraviation.com/sportys-pilot-shop-the-phenomenon/). I was finally going to meet him. I wanted to get some advice. Before I went to see Hal, I thought that I should do my homework. I did a quick Google search to find the history of Sporty’s (there was not a ton of it on their website) and the history of Hal. I found two to three articles on him, but nothing in depth. This indicated to me that Hal was not into self promotion and likely not full of himself. After meeting Hal, my hunch proved correct.
In 2017, I had written Hal a letter (the old fashioned way) and he responded via email and invited me to visit with him. Due to poor planning and a busy school year of teaching, it took me a year to get up to Sporty’s to see Hal. However, the fateful day finally arrived and I started the 45 minute drive. Hal had invited me to visit from 1:30 to 1:45pm. I sent him a list of questions in advance to optimize our time.
After arriving at Sporty’s, it took a few minutes for the team to find him, he apparently was on the move. He approached me in Sporty’s Pilot Shop, “You must be Daryl Smith,” as he stuck out his hand.
“Nice to meet you Mr. Shevers”.
“It’s Hal, come on with me”
We soon were seated in a very unpretentious office. It overlooked the runway and ramp, but was furnished efficiently, but not extravagantly.
After a quick summary of my career. I warned Hal that I was going to bombard him with questions. He was gracious to answer all of them.
What would you ask first, if you had 15 minutes?
This is what I started with, “When did you realize you had something in Sporty’s? When did you realize that you had made it?”
“I’m not sure that we have,” was his reply.
My jaw dropped with his next statement. “We have no business plan, we have no budget”.
I think he saw the look of bewilderment in my eyes. “If you need something, buy it” “if you want something, well, we’ll talk about it.”
How can this be, I thought? One only needs to walk into Sporty’s to realize that it is a first class organization. How can they do all of this without a business plan or budget?
As the chat progressed, I realized something of great importance at Sporty’s. Hal Shevers is a man of common sense. Add to that, Hal Shevers is a man who seeks out advice.
Hal lamented that many “so called” expert consultants want to give a lot of advice, but don’t want to own that advice. They seem to only be after the start ups company’s seed money, according to Hal. It was clear to me that Hal relied much more on trusted colleagues who had proven themselves over time, rather than high paid consultants.
Near the end of our time, Hal said something very enlightening. “There’s a lot more bad advice than good advice. It’s important not to listen to the bad advice”
Wow, that’s good, I want to write that down I said. A minute or two later Hal added another priceless line. “Even your good people can sometimes offer bad advice”. They don’t intend to do so, but sometimes it’s bad advice. That’s why it is important to learn to separate the good advice from the bad advice.
So, that’s how a man can build an organization without a budget and without a business plan.
In my time with Hal I learned that a business can be built on good solid advice. I will share other things I learned from Hal in my next blog.