Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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February 16, 2021 | Tom Ballard

PART 1: After more than 30 start-ups, Scott Andrew says timing has been on his side the last 10 years

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a three-part series spotlighting Scott Andrew, a Johnson City resident who has started more companies than anyone we have interviewed in nine years of writing and publishing

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

“I believe in timing; it’s been on my side the last 10 years,” said Scott Andrew of Johnson City during a recent interview, and his success record, particularly recently, proves that point.

Unless you live in Northeast Tennessee, his name might not ring a bell, but the Asheville native who moved to Johnson City two years ago is clearly making a name for himself and his various enterprises in the local community and across the country.

Just a little more than a year ago, we spotlighted one of his newest ventures named bioPURE Services in this article that was quickly followed by a second article in mid-March as what would become known as the COVID-19 pandemic began its acceleration across the globe. Today, bioPURE Services has 50 franchisees in 15 states, an enviable growth record in just a year when there were only four with two others on the drawing board.

For Andrew, bioPURE Services, which he describes as a “germ remediation service,” follows another of his enterprises that has experienced hockey stick growth since he acquired it. That company is BoxDrop Mattress & Furniture that had 17 stores in 2013 and now has 450 locations.

While the two companies are in very different sectors, they share several things in common: they are among the fastest growing franchise brands in the country, they are consumer-focused, they are franchise-based, and they are led by “rugged entrepreneurs.” You’ll hear more about that term as the series progresses.

“The franchising industry needed disruption,” Andrew says in explaining the philosophy he adopted when he acquired BoxDrop. “There’s frequently a bad relationship between the franchisee and the franchisor,” something he was determined to correct. “We are obsessed with our franchisees,” Andrew says, adding, “We try to disrupt ourselves each year” with new products and service offerings.

We were introduced to Andrew by Gary Mabrey, a former work colleague and long-time friend who retired in 2019 from the top executive role leading the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce. During our interview, we learned a great deal about the hard-charging entrepreneur who is guided by a strong philosophy honed over several decades.

“I’ve started 30 something companies,” Andrew said in response to a frequent question we ask serial entrepreneurs. “Maybe 15 are still in existence. I sold some and shutdown others.”

As is also frequently the case, entrepreneurs usually have a role model that inspired them, and the individual is usually in the immediate family. Andrew says he grew-up in an entrepreneurial household. “It’s all I ever knew. I went to college knowing I was going to own my own business.”

In fact, his first “legitimate one (start-up),” as Andrew described it, was launched while he was a student at North Carolina State University. Named College Life, it was an insert into the student newspaper that featured pictures of students on campus.

“Bootlegging beer was my first illegitimate start-up,” Andrew says in a tip of the cap to his engaging, disruptive at times, and always driven entrepreneurial nature, characteristics he attributes to his father. “He was the model for the Rugged Entrepreneur.”

That word – Rugged – embraces the Johnson City resident’s philosophy and several of his business enterprises.

  • There’s Retail Service Systems (RSS) which includes both BoxDrop and bioPURE Services. On his LinkedIn page, Andrew describes RSS as specializing “in the business services industry to empower entrepreneurs via licensed and franchised proprietary marketing and merchandising programs, trade secrets, branding methodologies, products, coaching, and ongoing customer service support.”
  • There’s Rugged Holdings which includes Rugged Entrepreneur, Rugged ETV, and Rugged American Spirits. The latter is partnering with Jonesborough-based Tennessee Hills Distillery to add a second location in Johnson City.
  • There’s also a real estate holdings company that recently acquired several buildings in Johnson City with a combined 41,000 square feet along with another two house bioPURE Services.

NEXT: The philosophical basis behind the Rugged Entrepreneur.

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