PCI Auction Group, located in Manheim, PA, is one the nation’s largest online restaurant equipment auction companies. Jared Mizrahi, the 30-year-old owner, has been in the auction business since he was 12 years old. He started his first business selling golf balls on eBay that he had retrieved from ponds, streams, and fields on golf courses. After graduating from Millersville University, he started teaching Mathematics at J.P. McCaskey and Manheim Township High Schools, all while simultaneously running his eBay businesses.
In 2013, Mizrahi decided to focus on PCI Auction Group full-time. PCI was recently named to Inc. Magazine’s annual Inc. 5000, a list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. The company now has over 16 offices nationwide, and facilitates the liquidation of assets from 1,000+ restaurants and retail spaces each year. The service provided is a valuable resource for clients who are seeking to recoup capital from unused restaurant and commercial assets due to concept changes, remodels, and closures. PCI has the capability to remove/disassemble any and all restaurant equipment including hoods, walk-ins, and rack ovens and bring it back to their warehouse to list the items in an online auction. They have helped national companies such as Subway, Papa John’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts, Joe’s Crab Shack, Ruby Tuesday, Wawa, and more recently, Au Bon Pain, liquidate their assets.
The site is also a valuable resource for anyone outfitting an entire restaurant, remodeling in a cost-effective manner, or for anyone buying restaurant-related equipment for their home, garage, hunting cabin, etc. Most items start at a penny and are listed without reserves.
How did the concept for PCI Auction Group come about?
The concept began around 10 years ago as a more streamlined way to liquidate restaurant equipment online. It has since grown to include the sales of items from any personal, commercial, or industrial space.
How was the first year in business?
I got involved with this business around 5 years ago and the first year in business was definitely a grind! I spent that time trying to understand the most efficient way to handle all procedures in the business and learning (sometimes the hard way) what works and what doesn’t.
What was your marketing strategy?
In the beginning, I really didn’t have a marketing strategy. I was really good at finding deals and selling items online (eBay mainly) so I used those techniques to develop a more formal marketing strategy. In the years moving forward, marketing continued to change as the markets and needs changed. We now deploy various methods, both physical and virtual, to market our services to potential clients and bidders.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The company grew very quickly in the first few years. I outgrew my first warehouse in less than 6 months and had to expand my second warehouse within a year of moving in. Our revenue also shot through the roof in the first couple of years as we perfected how to balance everything to be as efficient as possible.
How do you define success?
Revenue and net profit for me define success. It is important that we are bringing in as much revenue as possible and then ensuring that our new profit percentages are growing accordingly.
What is the key to success?
The key to success is definitely hard work. I never “clock out” and always have time for my staff. I’m always working and grinding which is what has made my business so successful. I’m also very hands on with everything that I do and I am constantly evaluating everyone’s performance to make sure they are working at maximum capacity and that we aren’t missing any opportunities. Lastly, it is very important to empower your team to grow and make decisions. My team of 25 have brought my company much farther than I ever could have by myself.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
I think the greatest lesson I learned is something I heard in my 12th grade Economics class: “Read the rules before you play the game.”
What are some quotes that you live by?
“Don’t talk about it, be about it”, “Trust but verify”, and “Impossible is nothing.”
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
I have had tons of tough days and what really matters is the way that you respond to those tough days.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I am intrinsically motivated and optimistic. I’ve been this way ever since I was young. When I meet adversity, I always find a way to push through because failure is not an option. Sometimes, this requires involving others or thinking creatively, but I always find a way to push through and keep moving forward.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to dive in and do it. Find things that you are passionate about, find a way to turn that into a business, and chase after that dream relentlessly. Making mistakes is okay and it is one of the best ways to learn something new. There’s no time like the present to get started and age is just a number. I started my first business at age 12. Don’t talk about it, be about it.
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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