Francis St. Holder is an IT Engineer who has been active in the IT and telecommunications industry for more than twenty years now. He took the first step towards his IT career by earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Technical Management from the University of Maryland in 1989. Holder then began his career as an IT Engineer, landing his first big job in 1995 as a task manager and senior communications engineer for IBM Advantis. In 1997, he joined Network Evolutions Inc. as the Director of Network Services. In 2000, he became Chief Technology Officer at Information Technology Security & Consulting Inc.
Along the way, Holder has co-partnered, managed, and operated several companies. He now owns two successful businesses. Holder is keen on gaining more certifications as he was aware that in the fast-paced IT industry, one needs to stay ahead of the curve to remain relevant. Francis is a member of the Emerging Leadership CEO program which is sponsored by the Small Business Association in Washington, DC. Every year, only 22 out of 2,000 applicants are chosen to go through this intense 7-month program.
In the last ten years, Francis has shifted a considerable amount of focus towards his businesses. This has seen him become the owner of two motorcycle service businesses, one in Delaware, and the other in Clinton, Maryland. Both his businesses are successful, and he’s currently working on another CISCO certification for his IT job. His flexibility and hard work have made him successful in his endeavors, and he’s still aiming higher.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I first gave this business a try when I became a partner with the DMV Baggers. Shortly afterward, I became the sole owner, and not long after I bought Clinton Cycles. After almost 20 years working in the IT industry, I felt it was time to incorporate my lifetime hobby and passion into my career. The skills that I had acquired in business development and management inspired me into believing that just like I had been successful in guiding clients towards successful businesses, I too could start mine and do well.
How do you make money?
For the first twenty years of my professional life, I made money by providing IT security, cyberspace engineering, and network services to my clients. I got an income working for various companies in different positions. I now also make money from my two businesses, DMV Baggers and Clinton Cycles. I sell new and old motorcycles, motorcycle parts, and provide maintenance services to motorcyclists in Maryland.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
When I became the owner of both DMV Baggers and Clinton Cycles, they were already established businesses serving the motorcycling community. What I did was bring more value and services to them, such as bike customization. The community has responded well to having such quality services within their home area, and the businesses became profitable after a short duration.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Sometimes I had the occasional doubt, which I believe stemmed from the fact that I had been doing the same thing for twenty years. Branching out into something else felt a bit foreign to me. The thought that my ventures wouldn’t work, however, never crossed my mind. My passion for motorcycles has been with me long before I even became a certified IT engineer. It was something I was effortlessly motivated to pursue. I knew that with the skills I had gained over the years, I had what it took to run a successful business. So, I took a leap of faith, and here I am today.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I have found the internet to be an important marketing tool. I have my profile on multiple sites, from professional platforms like LinkedIn to social media sites like Twitter. By engaging with the public in this manner, I’m able to inform more people about myself and what I can do for them. I also have a website where I offer insights on all my areas of expertise. When someone comes across my content and finds something useful, that usually generates new business for me.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I would attribute my success to my willingness to take on new challenges in my line of work. The IT world is ever-changing, and you can’t quite rely on what you learned while doing your major. You have to keep going back to class, getting more certifications as software and other aspects evolve so you can be useful to your clients and the company. It was by constantly working on my skills and updating my certifications that I was able to remain relevant in the field and attain success.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I started my business with the motorcycling community in mind. As an enthusiast myself, I understand what bikers need, and what brought me satisfaction was being able to provide my fellow motorcyclists with excellent dealership and maintenance services.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I hope to see my businesses grow to become part of the fabric of the community. What gets me excited is seeing the satisfaction on my customers’ faces. I pride myself in being able to provide efficient, reliable, and quality services. To me, this business is a passion, and I get joy and satisfaction from serving people in this manner. I’m also excited to form close relationships with my customers, and I look forward to having one big happy community of motorcyclists.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
When I became the owner of DMV Baggers, I knew that was just the first step of doing what I really love. By purchasing Clinton Cycles, I have created another platform in which I can give motorcyclists more services. This has created more opportunities for growth for my business.
How do you balance between your professional career and business?
When you love what you do, finding a balance is a matter of self-devotion, motivation, and discipline. You also need to be a great time manager. The skills that I have gained in the IT industry are also the skills I need in my business, so that has made balancing my career and businesses much easier for me.