Adam Mendler on Veloz’s long game, mad scientists, and why unicorns are just that
By Jordan French on March 7, 2019
Slow and stead wins the race.
At least that’s the approach for “conglomerate entrepreneur” — as opposed to “serial entrepreneur” — Adam Mendler, who cobbled together several solid, profitable businesses. There’s a method to his madness and it works: profitability and growth across the board and a more “sane” lifestyle. Mendler, who leads The Veloz Group, a conglomerate of small businesses, approaches business from a far more practical standpoint than most who aim to build the next “unicorn.”
Some entrepreneurs could take note.
GD: For the uninitiated, what does The Veloz Group do? It’s like a mini-Berkshire Hathaway?
Adam Mendler: If only. We are like a mini-Berkshire Hathaway like I was a mini-A-Rod when I played baseball. We run a few different businesses, but they are businesses we started. We run Beverly Hills Chairs, the leading seller of refurbished Herman Miller Aeron chairs in the country; Custom Tobacco, a one-of-a-kind platform that enables customers to create fully-customized private-label cigars; and Veloz Solutions, a technology consulting and software development practice. We are also always pushing on new ideas, and from time to time, get involved with other companies as either consultants or strategic partners.
GD: How do you split up duties with your brother, Jordan?
AM: Jordan and I have very different skill sets, which is one of the reasons we decided to go into business together. A successful team requires complementary as opposed to overlapping pieces. Jordan is a mad scientist. He is extremely creative, generates tons of ideas and has a tremendous background and expertise in tech. He runs the technical side of our operation. My skill set has always been in understanding, working with and building relationships with people. I oversee anything having to do with people, from sales and marketing to working with vendors to making sure our customers and employees are happy.
GD: What’s behind the Veloz name?
AM: We grew up on Veloz Ave. in Tarzana, CA, a neighborhood in LA right in the heart of the valley. When we left our respective careers to start a company together, one of the things that was motivating us was the desire to build a business with the kind of culture and values central to our upbringing. We wanted to create a place that embraced and embodied family, friendship, individuality, creativity and community. Naming it after Veloz Ave. was the obvious choice.
GD: Among the markets you operate in, where is the growth?
AM: The businesses we run aren’t going to grow into unicorns – they are nice businesses that provide extremely high quality products and services to customers all over the country, but I don’t envision the kind of growth that will make Warren Buffett worry about The Veloz Group treading on his turf. With that said, we are excited about continuing to grow each of our businesses, while pursuing other projects in development.
A number of initiatives I have been working on in conjunction with my leadership of The Veloz Group have experienced growth in the last couple of years, but I believe the real growth is on the horizon. For example, I have done a lot of writing on leadership. I have written over fifty articles in Forbes, Inc. and The Huffington Post, but what really excites me is the book on leadership I am on the verge of completing. It is a bible for leaders to become their best selves and most effectively manage the modern workforce.
I have conducted over two hundreds interviews with prominent executives, entrepreneurs and influencers, and have exciting plans to take my interview series to the next level. I have also been doing a lot of speaking and am looking forward to doing more and more. I love connecting with as many people as I can, helping them become better leaders, and sharing the lessons learned from my journey and from the experiences of the many people I have had the fortune to interview.
GD: Why focus on engineers and engineering?
AM: Back in the day, having great software development talent was a luxury enjoyed by the select few. Today, it is a necessity. The ecosystem is fueled and supported by developers, and if you don’t have a strong engineering team, your business is going to suffer. You will have challenges and you will miss out on opportunities. We recognized the correlation between having a top engineering team and our ability to conduct business, and wanted to help companies solve the almost universal problem of not having enough good engineers on staff.
GD: What role do internships play at your company?
AM: It depends on when you ask. In the early days of our company, we spent a lot of our time recruiting, hiring and managing interns. We brought in many of the top students from the top schools from all across the country. We had our fair share of fun and memorable intern classes, and I am very appreciative of the relationships I built with the many interns who regularly make me proud, as they continue to achieve amazing things in their careers.
But we realized we spent way too much of our time on our internship program and not enough time on our businesses, and have not hired as many interns in recent years. The interns we have hired all play an indelible role in Veloz history, not to mention in my own odyssey as a leader.
Jordan French is the Founder and Executive Editor of Grit Daily. The champion of live journalism, Grit Daily's team hails from ABC, CBS, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Fox, PopSugar, SF Chronicle, VentureBeat, Verge, Vice, and Vox. An award-winning journalist, he is on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com and a Fast 50 and Inc. 500-ranked entrepreneur with one sale. Formerly an engineer and intellectual-property attorney, his third company, BeeHex, rose to fame for its "3D printed pizza for astronauts" and is now a military contractor.