CASE STUDY: A Serial Success Story
August 3, 2019
For more than 3 decades, Boston’s own “RJ” Valentine has made a career of building successful and profitable businesses for himself and his partners only to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the man knows how to make money and create market leaders.
Entrepreneurs and investors have one common goal—Success. Easier said than done…unless you’re Richard J. (RJ) Valentine, that is. A long-time resident of the Boston area, RJ has managed to achieve victories well beyond what would normally be considered successful in almost any businesses. Yet, he’s done it repeatedly—and with dozens of businesses.
How does he do it? Three of the reasons are skills that can’t be taught: Instinct, foresight and fearlessness. RJ is one of those rare individuals with an innate talent for pinpointing untapped niches, recognizing serious growth potential and identifying companies that will ultimately own the lion’s share of their market. RJ also has a gift for picking the right people to join his management team. Above all, RJ freely admits that he’s obsessed with challenge and more than a little addicted to his work.
“My father said the harder you work, the luckier you get,” RJ explained. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have the right ideas at the right time.”
First case in point: As Chairman and CEO of The MBA Group, a $350 million conglomerate he founded in 1969 as the Massachusetts Businessmen’s Association, RJ went on to create market leaders out of 18 different companies, ultimately exiting and reaping lucrative rewards in every case. The categories ranged from insurance to financial services, and from merchant banking to motorsports.
Also in 1969, RJ saw an opportunity to fill a need in the quick-lube category in the Boston and greater Massachusetts region. Before long he had built and sold a $25 million chain of 30 Jiffy Lube franchises, including the #1 grossing location in the world and six of the top ten service centers in America.
Unlike most private equity financiers, RJ and his team get down in the trenches with the companies they invest in. His management style is “hands on” and he gets deeply involved with all employees from the CEO to the Janitor. Their operational expertise help ensure success for all stakeholders. Today, The MBA Group portfolio of businesses includes several rising stars currently operating under RJ’s guidance. Although each is a young company in its respective field, they have all demonstrated unprecedented success in record time.
Impact Power Technologies (IPT) is a perfect example of the notorious RJ foresight. His nose for potential business sensed an international need for longer-lasting portable power, particularly in certain valuable niche industries. The only competition was the vastly inferior OEM batteries that came with the devices necessary to each industry, and the incumbents were clearly taking advantage of customer naïveté. With powerful research and product development, backed by strong marketing and sales, the IPT team succeeded in growing its battery replacement business to over 12 million in 18 months. Battery replacement is an 8-1/2 billion dollar industry and IPT is positioned to own the biggest piece with its proprietary battery chemistry that delivers 20 to 40 hours of power, 3-5X more than OEMs, with double the lifespan and at least triple the number of recharge cycles.
Yet another illustration of The MBA Group difference is EarthSafe Chemical Alternatives. RJ and his team spotted a huge opportunity for healthier, nontoxic, biodegradable solutions to cleaning, disinfecting and descaling in a wide variety of industries. Until recently, companies who sold toxic chemicals, or whose “safer” chemicals were ineffective, dominated the category. EarthSafe is the first to specialize in clean chemicals and disinfecting systems for multiple applications that are faster, more powerful, and more cost-effective than anything else available, opening enormous international markets for its products. Although still in its infancy, EarthSafe is on track to penetrate a huge void in the market with a revolutionary new application method that is foolproof and delivers complete, lasting antimicrobial protection.
As previously mentioned, among RJ’s inherent traits are fearlessness and an obsession with challenge. His daring as a business guru also extends to his passion for racing. As a professional driver, RJ Valentine has been equally successful, placing or winning over 50 races, including the Daytona 24 Hour Endurance Race. Of course, being the entrepreneurial engine that he is, RJ couldn’t help but see business opportunities in the motorsports field as well.
“Racing and business development are intimately connected in my mind,” said Valentine. “They both require intuitive planning, teamwork and guts.”
While racing, RJ witnessed hundreds of crashes, causing drastic damage to vehicles and, sometimes, human tragedy. Upon analysis, he realized there were no truly safe track barrier options available, so he made it his mission to develop a better crash barrier that would protect both cars and drivers. Hence the birth of Impact Safety Systems (ISS) safer barriers. The composite construction of ISS barriers, together with its unique linked system, have been tested and proven time and again to help protect autos, karts, and the people who drive them. ISS just installed its millionth barrier and is currently developing a new barrier system that will deliver even higher levels of safety, and has expanded into airports, mining and crowd control at stadiums and public events.
As most locals know, RJ played an integral role in the explosive growth of F1 Boston, a world-class conference and entertainment center built around two indoor European-style kart racetracks. F1 Outdoors in East Bridgewater, which offers competitive kart racing on a 1.5-mile track, quickly followed. Both have been deemed the “Gold Standard” in the industry and are extremely profitable.
What’s next for RJ Valentine? A betting man would lay odds in favor of RJ and The MBA Group to win again and again, in business after business. His track record of serial success is undeniable by any standards—with the possible exception of the standards set by RJ himself.
RJ states, “I love a challenge…but I also love to win. However, winning itself is not enough…I always aim to win big for myself, my partners and our customers. I’m constantly looking for the next big idea that will exceed all sales expectations and, while we’re at it, change the world for the better.”