Rodney Marshall – President & CEO, Aldevra

Rodney Marshall served in the US Marine Corps from 1989 to 1993 when he was honorably discharged. He served as an infantryman and squad leader in the Persian Gulf War under Task Force Ripper and was awarded the Rifle Expert Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 stars, Kuwait Liberation Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. Mr. Marshall suffers from disabilities related to his service, which qualifies him as a service-connected disabled veteran.

Mr. Marshall has chosen to make the best of his situation and is determined to succeed. He has owned his own business since 1998 as a registered basketball official and trainer. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal Communications from Western Michigan University in May 2010.

Mr. Marshall is using leadership skills honed in the military, communication techniques acquired in college, and his gregarious personality to continue to serve his comrades and Aldevra’s clients by providing commercial food service and medical equipment to those in the battlefield and the homeland.

How did the concept for Aldevra come about?
A fellow coach encouraged me to start a business to sell to the government since I was a disabled veteran and the government had a goal to do a certain amount of business with companies owned by disabled veterans.

How was the first year in business?
The first year in business was a struggle. There was so much I didn’t know or understand. I’ve thought about writing a book on how not to start a business.

What was your marketing strategy?
At first, the marketing strategy was to lead with my certifications. Then, I learned that most customers want a good product or service first. The certifications are a bonus, not the lead.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The company grew really fast in the first few years. Then, I almost closed the doors when our mentor became our competitor.

How do you define success?
I define success as having a healthy, happy family for whom I can provide.

What is the key to success?
The key to success is having a great support system (my wife especially), paying bills on time, and communicating regularly with customers and suppliers. Basically, I try to treat people how I would want to be treated.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The greatest lesson is to listen to my gut.

What are some quotes that you live by?
“Integrity is doing that which is right when no one is looking.” – It’s a Marine Corps quote.

“Send the elevator back down.”

What are some of your favorite books?
Forty Million Dollar Slaves and The Art of War.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Finding my wife and VP crying on the bathroom floor because she was so overwhelmed and tired,

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I’m a Marine. We always push forward in the face of adversity. There is no option.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Don’t ever quit, pay your bills, and never burn a bridge.