Today’s Show Recap
Thanks for listening to Makin’ It. On this week’s episode, Tommy, Todd and Brittany interview self-made entrepreneur, poker player and owner of the Toy Barn: Shawn Cunix. Let us know what you think of the show in the comments section at the bottom of the page!
Are you ready for some inspiration? Because it’s time to start the show!
Shawn Cunix is a true rags-to-riches story. Cunix started with humble beginnings on the east side of Columbus, OH, went from a $35,000 a year job to becoming the top cell phone sales representative and owning 80 Verizon Wireless stores, raking in $90 million a year. After selling those stores in 2015, he embraced his poker hobby and went on to win millions as a professional poker player. After recovering from a potentially fatal ATV accident, he pursued his latest venture: acquiring the luxury car dealership the Toy Barn in Dublin, OH. Along with his new company, he finds the time to sit on a board for Teen Focus, a non-profit that mentors fatherless young boys.
As a teenager, Cunix left home and moved in with his grandmother on the east side of Columbus, OH, his family having lost 16 houses while he was growing up. Knowing he always wanted to be an entrepreneur, he started early, selling Jolly Ranchers he purchased for a penny a piece for a dime to his classmates. Cunix managed to save thousands of dollars from this venture.
After high school, he went to Ohio State and graduated in 1996. After college, he obtained a comfortable job making $35,000 a year with a company car. He did this for a year, but he was intrigued when he heard of sales representatives making $100,000 a year selling cell phones. Because of his humble beginnings, Cunix didn’t care what he had to do to make that kind of money, and he jumped at the chance.
In 1997, Cunix began his cell phone career with AirTouch Cellular, later to become Verizon Wireless. During his four-year stay, he became the top sales representative in the country, making $170,000 a year for each of those years. For Cunix, that was life-changing money. However, taking lessons from “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” Cunix didn’t want to trade time for money, and as an entrepreneur, he never likes to sit still too long.
Having just purchased a house and having a son with his wife after she quit her job, Cunix decided to quit his. For Cunix, it was a terrifying experience. But it would all turn out well. He sold cell phones out of his basement that led to him to open his own store in October 2001, six months after going out on his own.
It took Cunix a couple of years to figure out how important it is to have a system in place for his business and to have great people working alongside him. Citing books such as “Good to Great” by Jim Collins and “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber, he learned how to get both of those factors in line.
Cunix took his business seriously, and he turned having a few stores into opening a new store every couple of weeks, on to 80 stores, which earned him $90 million in revenue. Cunix decided to sale-fund his businesses because he started with a zero-credit line. He had sold many units door-to-door, and once he had money stored up, others wanted to invest.
However, that pace caused an enormous amount of stress for Cunix, and he stated he cried himself to sleep at least once a week in order to accomplish that goal. Again, Cunix didn’t want to stay put for too long, and he sold his stores in 2015, and he was able to take care of his family, buying them houses and cars, which he cites as an amazing experience.
Toy Barn and Community
Cunix’s next endeavor was purchasing the Toy Barn in Dublin, OH. The Toy Barn was known for selling exotic and high-line cars. However, since his ownership he has expanded that line to service customers of all price points, and he has nearly doubled the Toy Barn’s production.
Cunix states he has always loved cars and people, and he believes the experience of purchasing a car should be second to none for his customers. And, that buying a car is more than just a transaction to him; it’s a relationship.
But the Toy Barn also allows Cunix to give back to his community, even taking a couple million dollars in cars to his local Children’s Hospital, and allowing them to play. And, Cunix sits on the board for Teen Focus, finding it important to help mentor fatherless children.
Having never competed in sports at school, Cunix does enjoy competing in professional poker tournaments. He has gone one to win millions, and the experience has been a good one for Cunix, one he has shared with his children.
Secrets to Success
Coming from such humble beginnings, Cunix cites having an amazing amount of fight within him, “Cinderella Man” being his favorite movie. From an early age, he knew he wanted to a make a difference in people’s lives and take care of his family, and he feels he has accomplished this goal.
But Cunix also recognizes as a great motivator his desire to keep moving on to the next thing. People often to don’t want to move out of fear, but he believes fear can also be a great motivator. Never being satisfied with staying in one place has pushed Cunix to go further.
To start out, Cunix said he needed to understand his why, drawing from the book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. Cunix states that just going out and making money every day is a surface thing, but it has to be something bigger than that to drive a person. Those bigger things tend to allow more freedom, which is incredibly important to Cunix. This freedom allows Cunix to build memories with his family and gives him thoughts to making memories with future grandchildren.
In addition, Cunix enjoys the limelight. He enjoys setting a good example for the children he serves at Teen Focus. He believes that every time he is successful and he is in the limelight, he has created an ability to make a difference in people’s lives.
To other entrepreneurs, Cunix offers this advice. He states while it is important to not give up on dreams, it is also equally important to find a mentor who can help. He states that even if the first few won’t help, to keep looking because there are many entrepreneurs who are willing to share their time and experience to help others. And, Cunix is just one of many.
OMG Fact of the Week:
The word taxi has the same spelling in Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish.
Thanks for tuning in to Makin’ It. Let us know what you think of the show and if you have questions about your business, send us an email at email@example.com or leave us a comment below. We love to hear from our listeners and we read comments on the air. We just might choose yours for next week’s show (so don’t forget to tune in!).
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Additional Resources for Entrepreneurs:
Contact Shawn Cunix at:
On Facebook by searching for his name or the Toy Barn
Stop in the Toy Barn if you are in the area
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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