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Janitor Rescues Failing Business, Now Is Co-Owner

Tony Lee, who worked as a janitor at car parts company Ring Masters in Massillon, Ohio, came up with a business plan to save the company, which is now profitable.


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In 1997, after leaving the army, Tony Lee got a job working as a janitor for Ring Masters, an engine ring manufacturing company in Massillon, Ohio. Before long, he was promoted to foreman—but, by 2002, the company was laying off workers left and right.

Lee may very well have been next in line—but he had a different agenda. He spent late nights at the library, working on a business plan to bring Ring Masters back to profitability. Then, he found a group of investors to buy the company and follow his plan.

Though Lee didn’t have much money, the investors wanted him to have a stake in the company, too. He had to come up with $25,000. To do so, he took out a second mortgage on his home, and sold his beloved motorcycle.

The investment proved to be a wise decision, however: Nearly a decade later, Ring Masters has grown from 15 to 20 employees, and brings in $4 million in annual revenue. Lee is a co-owner, and has recouped his initial investment several times over.

And Lee hasn’t forgotten his janitorial roots: Even as a business owner, he steps out onto the factory floor to work side by side with his employees each day.

Check out Yahoo’s video interview with Tony Lee.

Filed under: Business, Heroes,

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