Since taking over the Majestic Stone operation in 2016, CEO Patrick Wells has helped the company grow from 25 employees to 45, 25 distributors to 130 and $1 million in revenue to a potential $3.5 million this year.
And he didn't know a thing about stone when he started.
But he also didn't know a thing about the legal industry when he started a legal outsourcing company in Mobile, Alabama, and he didn't know a lot about the auto salvage industry when he ventured into that business, too.
For Wells, it's all about the product and service and how a company differentiates themselves from the competition.
"It all just comes back to the basics of business," the 32-year-old says.
To be fair, Wells has learned a lot about the stone industry since taking over. He drives two hours roundtrip from his family's home in Chattanooga to the company's rock quarries in Dayton, Tennessee, five days and week and has put 40,000 miles on his truck in the process.
His iPhone's camera roll includes several images of Tennessee flagstone pulled from Dayton Mountain and the company's finished projects both in Chattanooga and across the country. Sprinkled into those images of work are pictures and videos of his 4-year-old daughter, Hallie Grace; 4-month-old son, Patten; and wife, Mary Shelton.
While Wells is a CEO and partner at Alderman Holdings, the Chattanooga-based investment company that bought Majestic Stone, perhaps his favorite title is that of doting dad.
Driving from the main office of Majestic Stone's location on Dayton Mountain to the rock quarry roughly a mile away, Wells explained how it was "Disney" day at his daughter's school that day. She wore a princess dress, Rapunzel-themed necklace and Little Mermaid-themed tiara, he said.
"She is all girl," he jokes.
An Alabama native and graduate of Samford University, neither of Wells' parents went to college but they did teach him how to work hard, he said. While earning his Masters in Business at Samford, Wells said he fell in love with the field.
"This idea that I could run a business some day just rocked my world," he said.
After college, he had the opportunity to run a legal outsourcing company in Mobile, Alabama. After doing that for about four years, he then took over an auto salvage company for some owners who wanted to get out of the business. Life was going well, and he thought his plans were solidifed for the next few years.
But as Wells will say, that's not how plans usually work. In 2015, Wells got the call that his best friend had died unexpectedly and that quickly put things into perspective for him.
"Everything kind of wakes up," Wells explained. "All this other stuff is nice but it isn't worth it."
A few months later, he and his wife were settled in Chattanooga and closer to family. That's when he helped form Alderman Holdings and offered to take the reins at the first company they purchased — Majestic Stone.
While Wells didn't grow up in the stone industry or know a whole lot about it in the beginning, his business mindset has opened some new doors for the company.
"I knew I had some pretty strong institutional knowledge within the company when I came in," he says. "I knew that it wasn't going to be up to me to quarry or process."
"The relationships with customers is where they needed help," he adds. "That's what I've focused on."