Thriving in uncertain times: Travis Mack
Our own Fred Royall talks to veteran business owner and serial entrepreneur Travis Mack about running a company during market downturns and what adjustments can be made to drive success.
The past few years have been trying for entrepreneurs, with the pandemic, market volatility and social upheaval taking a toll. But the proverbial “return to normal” is happening on many fronts, and diverse business owners are finding ways to not just survive but thrive.
To learn how these businesses are leading through adversity, we’re speaking with Black, Hispanic and Latino, women, veteran, disabled and LGBT+ owners about their keys to success. Specifically, we’re focusing on how they’re overcoming challenges in these core areas:
- Talent management
- Financial discipline and strategic planning
- Business resiliency and leadership
For the first video conversation in this series, Frederick Royall III, National Head of Diverse Businesses for JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking, spoke with Travis Mack, who’s both a military veteran and a veteran business leader. In his 25-year career, Mack has founded a for-profit company, a nonprofit organization and a private equity firm—and he’s also the CEO of an IT company. Here’s what he had to say.
Frederick Royall III, left, and Travis Mack at a J.P. Morgan event
Meet Travis Mack
- Founder, Chairman and CEO of Saalex Corp., a federal aerospace and defense contractor headquartered in Camarillo, California
- President and CEO of Valeo Networks, a commercial IT company based in Scottsdale, Arizona
- Founder and Fund Manager for Greenwood Self Storage Funds, a commercial real estate private equity fund in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Founder of The Mack Foundation, a philanthropic nonprofit organization that provides scholarships and educational opportunities to children and underserved communities
- Decorated service-disabled veteran of the U.S. Navy
- Six Sigma Green Belt and NAIC-certified diverse asset manager
Hiring and retention have become top strategic priorities as businesses navigate a historically tight labor market and trends like “quiet quitting.” Add in the pandemic’s reshaping of work, and Mack believes companies need to get creative to find and keep employees. One possible solution: getting involved at the community level to identify and cultivate top talent.
“I think it’s incumbent upon all entrepreneurs, CEOs and leaders to pay attention to current market dynamics, adjust accordingly, and perhaps be a bit more discriminating in how they’re executing on the future,” Mack said.
Financial discipline and strategic planning
Inflation and interest rate hikes have dealt businesses a considerable one-two punch—and don’t forget supply chain issues, which still persist. For Mack, these conditions mean entrepreneurs have little margin for error as the Federal Reserve attempts a soft landing, which he equates to “landing a 737 jet on a penny.” The best thing business owners can do? Communicate with customers and set expectations as supply capacity works back to normal and markets adjust to tightening.
“I learned a lot about fiscal discipline back in the crash of 2008 and the federal budget sequestration,” Mack said. “It really made you question every single expenditure and how you were utilizing resources—and how you could get the most value out of those resources.”
Business resiliency and leadership
Leaders are forged in the fires of adversity, and Mack believes these tough times can cultivate strength, vision and growth. The key is to harness that ambition and determination and direct it toward opportunities to lead. This may mean being the change you want to see in promoting diverse businesses, engaging customers through outreach or being selfless enough to admit a mistake and grow from it.
“Perseverance is your best friend,” Mack said. “There are going to be more bad days than good days. Sometimes you just have to deal with it and continue to try and move forward. Try to be collected. Try to get information. Try to ask as many thought-provoking questions as you possibly can.”
Want to learn more about Travis Mack? In this bonus video, Mack reflects on his military experience, his various business enterprises and why giving back is so important to him.
How JPMorgan Chase is helping
We strive to be more than just another bank. Our goal is to be a true champion of entrepreneurs and diverse-led businesses. And we’re deploying resources and investments to help businesses navigate current challenges and come out stronger than before.
For more information, read about our $30 billion Racial Equity Commitment, or check out these content collections we’ve curated for Black and veteran business owners.
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