Ray Sherman is the founder and owner of West Coast Auction company in North Port, Florida. He’s grown the company over the years through hard work, and by putting into practice some of the lessons he has learned during his journey.
In this interview, Ray talks about the things that West Coast Auction Company is up to today, and a few of the things that he’s learned along the way.
Ray, what makes West Coast Auction Company so special? Is there something you wanted to do different or better than your competitors?
My vision was to develop an auction company that people could put their trust in. Honesty and trust are 2 key factors that are very hard to find in this line of business. With that said, we have gained our customers trust and have mountains of referrals back to us.
Currently 80% of our business comes from happy customers that have referred us. We appreciate this level trust and there is no better form of trust than for someone to call you up and say my friend recommended you to us.
What are your visions for your business? Where do you see it in the next 5 years?
I see us continuing to grow and gaining popularity, and that we as a company might have our own Reality TV Show someday.
What attitude/habits have helped make you successful in running your business?
Keeping God Almighty as No. 1 and thanking Him daily for His favor and blessings in our personal lives and business endeavors. It’s about doing the right thing daily and doing everything to the best of my ability, I strive for excellence in everything I do personally and professionally. I definitely try and live by a higher set of standards than many in my industry.
What was your biggest business mistake and how did you come out stronger at the end of the day?
Early in my career I purchased a large tractor trailer full of department store general merchandise sight unseen for quite a sum of money. Ended up being mostly broken returns and junk! I gained a whole lot of wisdom in how I purchase merchandise from that time forward, and learned the hard way that not everyone is honest in business. That was about 12 years ago, my motto today, “Trust but verify”, there is wisdom in that.
Most businesses evolve over time. Is there a way that you slowly evolved the mission of West Coast Auction Company to serve your customers better?
Our company has evolved over time. It has been a growing journey in who we have had working for us, how we handle customers, to picking up and logging in consignor merchandise, to where are auctions have been held. We have been blessed to have a permanent 8,000 square foot Auction Gallery in a very busy and growing area of North Port, FL.
We have been there for 3 ½ years in this same gallery and plan to stay for years to come. Possibly gaining extra square footage for the extra growth we have been experiencing.
What do you consider the biggest milestone that you have hit with your business?
The biggest milestone is having the cool place where we call “home” here at the Gallery. Our full time staff handles a lot of the day to day activities and it gives me the opportunity to promote our newest company TraderZip.com which is an online auction platform and classifieds marketplace. Hopeful to be a leader in the industry in the next 5 years.
Also, we have won best Auction House in our area for the last 3 years.
Who has been your greatest influencer along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape West Coast Auction Company?
A: Honesty, my wife Nilsa has been my greatest influencer in this business. She chad no idea what an auction was to now being active and involved with key decisions in how we operate the company as a whole. She supports me and encourages me in my visions. She has always been at my side in everything I have put my hands to. Also, she has kept me in prayer.
How do you stay focused on a day-to-day basis? Do you have a key motivator that keeps you going and fighting the good fight?
My key motivator in this business is not giving up! Fighting the good fight is keeping the Lord by my side to get thru a stressful day or a day gone sour. I have those days too. I also have days when I’m feeling on top of the world. Like I have done something today! I like to win. I have a competitive spirit in business. I have always been ambitious since a child and I still have that quality today.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? Is there something you are most proud of?
My biggest enjoyment in being an entrepreneur is having the freedom to sometimes get away from the “busyness” of business and escape to our Cabin in the woods!
What advice would you give to our readers who want to start a business in Florida? Where should they start?
For anyone out there that has the desire to own their own business, I encourage you. Persistence is key and you can never give up that hope of being successful. It takes courage and a lot of time to build up a reputable company.
You just have to be patient and push forward. Be the very best you can be and learn from others that have the experience in your field of choice. Try things, then try things again, over and over. Most of all – Keep God first in everything you do because with Him, all things are possible!