Wise beyond his years, Zac Abell of Durham, Missouri should serve an inspiration to all young entrepreneurs – well, entrepreneurs in general. It doesn’t take but a few short minutes with Abell to be completely captured by his love for life and then be in awe of his position on business and relationships at the young age of seventeen.
In 2011, Abell was involved in an accident with a bull that striped him of his love; the ability to compete in the ring. Having shown steers and goats prior to his accident, Abell says he longed for a reason or an excuse to go to the shows again. Rather than sulking about what couldn’t be, he thought of ideas that would give him reasons to again surround himself with young people who shared his same passion.
The answer – a show supply trailer. After a couple of years working for a show supply company, Abell wanted the freedom and flexibility of managing his own schedule. Thus, Stock Show Outfitters was born. More than just show supplies, Abell’s focus is to outfit the stockshow lifestyle. From supplies to apparel, footwear and more, Abell has created a one-stop shop for all stock show needs. Since its inception, Abell has partnered with winning brands such as Weaver Leather, Sure Champ, Nobel Outfitters, Twisted X and more.
When asked how he decided what type and how much inventory to carry, his answer is simple, it has to make sense for his customers and create return. Throughout the expansion of Stock Show Outfitters, Abell has test marketed new products to see how well they are received in the marketplace before going all in. In addition, he has been keen to recognize the behavior of his consumers. For example, data showed that 82% of his customers preferred to pay by credit card. With that, Abell invested in a complete inventory management system that connected both his warehouse, trailer and website inventory. This system also allows for wireless credit card transactions so the Stock Show Outfitter team can take payment inside or outside of the trailer while on the road. Plus, any time a payment is recorded, inventory is deducted from the system. Abell utilizes the data to work for him, notifying him of low stock items, as he still maintains a full time schedule as a high school student. The investment in technology has not only multiplied his time as a business owner, but offered convenience for his customers and ultimately increased sales.
A unique item added to the list this year was gift cards. With the website storefront available to customers 24/7, Abell thought it would be nice for customers to not have to wait until the next time they saw him at a show, rather, give them the ability to order at their convenience either in person or online. Prior to Christmas 2014, they launched the new gift card offer and it went over better than expected.
Abell’s patience with the company and content nature to grow at rates he can manage, has enabled him to make great business decisions thus far and set him up for what is sure to be a successful future.
Now struck with big decisions in his near future, as he will graduate in May, Abell is clear on one thing – GROWING HIS BUSINESS. He has a big vision for Stock Show Outfitters with plans to nail down a permanent home for office headquarters and expand the number of trailers in their fleet. Even with all the exciting ideas for growth, Abell understands one thing better than most his age or most in general – the power of service. According to Abell, “It’s important to understand the art of selling, but to understand how products work gives you an advantage by allowing you to properly take care of your customers’ needs. You can have a million-dollar business, but if you don’t have a staff that understands the product, is customer service oriented or who genuinely care about people, you have a problem.”
Stock Show Outfitters has enabled Abell to stay true to himself. He’s had to learn to trust himself as well as trust in others. “Looking back now it’s kind of cool how it has all happened. I never thought I would be in the position I am today. I’ve learned so many life skills. You read about it and hear about it, but until you actually experience it, it is hard to put a finger on the value of owning your own business. From the business side of things, you learn that the algebra class you hate is really very useful. Numbers and math are important. You have to stay in the know and understand all that’s happening around you. Forecasting sales, changes in inventory, margins and profitability are things I pay attention to on a daily basis. Oh, and how to do taxes – kids should never have to do that,” he says with a grin. But on the personal side, Abell says, “You have to be passionate and caring. Treating people right gets you further than trying to sell someone something.”
“You can talk about loving agriculture, loving to show, loving going to fairs, but you have to take action to prove your love for something,” he says. Abell was first motivated by those who told him he couldn’t. Hating to sound cliché, he offers this bit of advice, “Nothing is impossible. You can do anything you set your mind to. Never Give Up. But, in order to never give up, you have to first start something.”
Without a doubt, Zac Abell has started what is sure to be a great endeavor. Stock Show Outfitters will flourish simply because of the unique passion this young man possesses. He says, “I was involved in an unfortunate accident. I don’t want people to have to go through a bad experience or what I went through to discover passion. If anything, I want to help kids discover and outfit their passion and love for livestock and life.”