Fred Beans started out in the automotive business in the 1950s with a two-bay gas station, a $5500 loan co-signed by his mother and $120 in his pocket. He likes to tell the story that his dad wouldn’t co-sign the loan, but told him to ask his mother; that way, if young Fred failed, it wouldn’t be so embarrassing.
On Thursday, September 9, Beans spoke at the Central Bucks Chamber’s Business to Business Breakfast at the Waterwheel Restaurant. Besides the other Chamber members who had come to sample Kenny’s crispy bacon and to hear Fred’s story, he was surrounded by old friends, lots of family and a number of his long-time employees.
Some of those present had heard his tales and his philosophies about life and business before—he never misses a chance to teach, to swap ideas, to hear what other people have to say.
In fact, that kind of exchange of ideas and values is at the core of what makes Fred Beans Fred Beans. One of his favorite activities is what he calls “road trips.” By himself or with a handful of employees, he visits businesses to talk marketing or selling or building layout or anything at all with other business owners. They don’t even need to be in the same industry.
“You can learn a lot from people who aren’t in your business,” he says.
He comes away from the encounters inspired to try new methods, ready to revise and adapt what he has learned and make it pay off for his own endeavors.
The key to his success, he says, is in planning, doing, checking on the progress and then adjusting to stay on track. He believes in giving new employees not only careful testing and a good job description, but also a list of expectations for what they will achieve. He believes in having a goal and sharing it with every person on the team so they are all working together to reach it.
He deeply respects the education that comes from surrounding yourself with the right mentors and influences. “It’s the people you hang around with, the books you read and the movies you see” that determine what kind of person you are.