Non-Conformists are entrepreneurs, innovators, and social change-makers -- living and working in the Cape Fear region. They are the people forging new paths with their ideas, innovations, and actions. This series gives readers a glimpse into their thinking, habits, and insights about originality and entrepreneurship.
AARON RICHARDET: Chiropractor, Entrepreneur, Mega Truck Builder, Custom Car Creator.
What started for chiropractor Aaron Richardet, as a hobby to keep him close to home when his kids were young, is now a multi-million dollar business refurbishing and custom building overland vehicles. Pursuing his passion for vintage Land Rovers, and staying true to his favorite quote, “Fear is the disease, hustle is the antidote,” Richardet created Osprey Custom Cars, based in Wilmington, NC, in 2004. With his team of 22, in a 22,000 sq/ft workshop, they craft cutting-edge highly specialized overland vehicles, that can be seen in collector's garages from California to Martha’s Vineyard or even the showroom of SEMA in Las Vegas. They’ve installed antique flooring, custom engraved exteriors, and paint jobs to match houses and take pride in the notion that ‘if you can dream it, they can build it!’ And did we mention Richardet also has a day job? When he’s not building dream vehicles, he is a full-time chiropractor and the owner of Wilmington Spine and Joint.
He is without a doubt, a Non-Conformist.
In your opinion what is the most innovative & original idea or thought you’ve seen in the Cape Fear region?
I think that would have to be Duane Hickson and N2 Publishing. Honestly, when I first heard about the N2 concept back in 2004, I didn’t think it was going to work. It seemed counterintuitive, to what the market was doing, which was moving away from print media and into digital. Duane understood that people still wanted to touch and hold things and so he tapped into a niche market. He understood that it didn’t need to be an expensive fancy publication, but rather be useful and give people information about their community and neighborhood, directly into their mailboxes. They’ve now made millions and have been ranked on Inc. Magazine's list of the fastest-growing privately held companies for something like 7 years in a row.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I run my life on a tight and consistent schedule that pretty much looks the same every day. I get up at 5:45 am every morning, get my cardio workout in I look over spreadsheets, answer emails. I stop by the Osprey workshop at 7:45 am and then head to my chiro clinic practice at 9 am.
What’s the most original idea you’ve had?
I’m launching a Bronco concept truck at the end of November through one of my company’s called MegaRexx Trucks. It is totally unique and has never been done before so it’s an original idea for sure. It is a full size Bronco with three row seating, based on a F250 Superduty truck.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?
Back in 2003, I was 27-years-old and I wanted to open my second Chiropractor practice but none of the banks would lend me the money. So, I took a calculated risk and went ahead and did it on my own anyway. I eventually built up 3 practices, which I sold and now have The Wilmington Spine and Joint clinic.
What do you think it takes to stand out these days?
A strong gut and plenty of fortitude. You have to be able to grind it out and stick to something, all of which takes a lot of energy, but mainly it takes persistence. I don’t think I’m necessarily the smartest person or the most educated, but I am the guy that is persistent and doesn’t give up. Osprey has stood the test of time, we’ve been around since 2014, so word of mouth has spread and we have built trust.
How do you bring your ideas to life?
I’m a ‘gut feel’ kinda guy, if it feels right then I will go after it and pursue it. I’m also an ideas guy, but my real strength is being the ‘editor’ of a great idea. I surround myself with people who are better than me at certain things and have the skills to bring my concepts to life. I can take a look at something once t’s been put together and know exactly what’s not working or what needs to be added to make it better. So, I’m a great editor.
What’s one trend that excites you?
People who check out, I think is a really cool trend. I don’t mean people who’ve never had a job and simply want to slack off and bum around. I mean people who have been entrepreneurs or successful in their field and decide enough is enough and sell up and move somewhere completely different and check out of the rat race. I respect that. I dream about doing that, but I’m not quite there yet.
What is a habit of yours that makes you productive?
Schedule, schedule, schedule. We all have something in common with Elon Musk, we all have 24 hours in a day – it’s just how we use them.
What advice would you give your younger self?
What’s the best advice you’ve received that you followed?
Be a chameleon and blend in. It was advice I think I was given once in junior high. To have the ability to associate and relate to people from all walks of life enables you to be a great networker.
Tell us something true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Probably that I’m humble.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I take risks, but they are calculated risks. I do my research and due diligence before I do anything. I also pride myself on exceptional customer service -- high touch. I also make myself readily available to and client who wants to talk to me.
What is one failure you’ve had and how did you overcome it?
We learn the most from our failures but I don’t dwell on them. If I have a project that doesn’t work out I move on quickly. I try to analyze why the mistake was made, whether it was timing or the market, but I don’t dwell on it.
What new project are you working on at the moment?
A Bronco concept truck, which is being built and launched through my company MegaRexx Trucks.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
Going out for dinner as a family. We recently went to a family-owned Mexican restaurant in Whiteville and that was money and time well spent.
What is one piece of software, app, or gadget that you use that is essential?
What are you reading now?
Sam Manicom, “Distant Suns." I am always reading 4-5 books at a time, a bunch of niche magazines too. But I love the Manicom series of motorcycle adventures.
Tell us about somewhere you traveled and what you learned?
India with my family. It was a total overload of sensations. It is important for American’s, especially, to get out of their comfort zone and see the world and experience other cultures and understand what real poverty looks like.
What's your favorite quote?
“Fear is the disease, hustle is the antidote,” by Travis Kalanick.