Dan T. Moore of the Dan T. Moore Company
Meet Dan T. Moore, founder of the Dan T. Moore Co.
, parent company to 14 manufacturing companies.
What does Dan T. Moore Co. do?
Dan T. Moore Co. is a parent to 14 companies. For example, six of the manufacturing companies (four of which were startups) are: Team Wendy
, Delaware Dynamics
; Tennessee Iron Products; NatGasCa
r; and Sleep Optima
We strive to start one new business a year and we are interested in acquiring automotive-related companies and manufacturing companies involved with advanced material science.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
I became an entrepreneur in college when I started a tree service during summer vacations, which mainly involved trimming and cutting down elm trees on Cleveland's east side. While also in college, I started a birthday cake concession -- shaming parents into buying birthday cakes for their children. After having worked for myself at a young age, the rest was easy.
Following business school I worked for Standard Oil of Ohio in a mergers and acquisitions and business startup entity. It became quite obvious that it would be difficult for me to work for a big company for very long and there seemed to be a lot of interesting opportunities. Following Sohio, I started a manufacturer’s rep agency and developed a rust-proofing material for General Motors and Ford for chassis components.
I have started more than 25 companies -- some successful, some not.
Why did you start your business?
I was interested in pursuing my own ideas and overcame the fear of doing so early by starting two businesses before I graduated college. The main answer is: I wanted to be doing what I want to do rather than what someone else wanted me to do.
How did you come up with the ideas for your businesses?
Ideas should emanate from discovering unmet market needs, but it needs to be discovered before too many other people do. In nearly all of my successful companies filling an unmet need has been the key to success. This makes being in a selling situation extremely important.
One of the first unmet needs I found was solving a problem General Motors was having with automobile frame corrosion. In certain environments, in climates like eastern Ohio and parts of New Hampshire, an automobile frame would penetrate in two years. This only occurred in an environment with dirt roads, where salt is used in winter and hydroscopic materials are used during the summer to reduce dust. Recognizing the importance of this problem, I provided GM with a solution which started my post-college career.
What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Early on, I used Case Western Reserve
resources in starting several of my businesses. One resource was I engaged Eric Baer who headed CWRU’s polymer area to help me develop a rustproofing material that would protect chassis components from corrosion. He was critical in developing the chemistry that lead to this success.
Where did you find your first employee?
My wife was one of my first employees at an early company called Foam Seal. I built a coating line on the second floor of a loft on Perkins Avenue near East 36th St. My wife, Marge, ran a coating machine that often got pressure sensitive adhesive in her hair. It was a moonlighting project so we worked late at night, in a comparatively dangerous unheated space that we shared with a variety of rodents. She quit one night after getting a rather large piece of adhesive in her hair and having to work next to a mouse struggling to escape from a pool of partially dried adhesive.
What founders do you admire and why?
I have the most admiration for my elders. Two Clevelanders that come to mind are Bill Jones and John Morley. Bill Jones went to Harvard Business School
and worked at TRW
during the time they were developing their electronics capabilities. He later started Cleveland Machine Controls and COSE
and was instrumental in helping Mal Mixon with the purchase of Invacare
. Bill has been involved in the founding of a number of other companies.
John Morley became a vice president at Exxon
and moved to Cleveland to take over Exxon's investment in Reliance Electric
. He later was involved in an IPO to purchase the company. Following its sale has been involved in a number of very successful ventures. Both of these individuals are exceedingly intelligent, have inquiring minds, are fun to be with and are extraordinary team builders.