Cameron Davies entered the business world in 2005, when he built a business that “specialized in customizing and restoring classic cars for celebrities and NFL athletes.” Five years later, his skill at his craft caught the eye of a food truck owner and asked him to install an audio and video system on his truck. Cameron said yes and went to work right away. By working on the food owner’s truck, he learned how the trucks were built, which inspired him to start another venture, which became Cruising Kitchens.
Now, Cameron Davies has grown Cruising Kitchens into the “world’s largest builder of customized, mobile kitchens.” The company employs a team of 32 persons, working in a 61,000 square foot shop near the San Antonio International Airport. On average, Cruising Kitchens puts out one project every week for various clients. These include “eateries like Chris Madrid’s, Taco Palenque and Hard Rock Café, brands such as H-E-B and institutions including the U.S. Army and Florida State University.” The latter also bought “the world’s largest mobile kitchen, measuring 95 feet bumper-to-bumper.”
As Cameron Davies and Cruising Kitchens grew their reputation, they were also earning recognition on the national scene. In 2016 and 2017, the company appeared on the Discovery Channel show “Blue Collar Backers.” In 2019, Cameron and his wife Kaycee produced and starred in their own TV show called “Build for Business.”
Check out more interviews with inspiring founders here.
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story or example?
Cameron Davies: It’s a big family. I have a tattoo on my arm that says without family I am nothing, that’s how I run everything. You come to our facility and we have a 64,000 sq ft. mega facility that has a basketball court in it, then there’s a 73,000 sq. ft. facility down the street that serves as the headquarters for the entertainment arm of this. What I get the biggest kick out of is everyone who comes to our facility, they always talk about we have this family atmosphere and how happy our people are to work here. When the pandemic hit, we were asked to shut down for 2 weeks even though we were labeled as an essential business. Our employees didn’t want to leave, and said they would work for free because we had deadlines to meet. When you give somebody something that they’re proud to do and a place where they’re proud to work, they’re going to be loyal to you. It was very rewarding to see as a business owner.
Jerome Knyszewski: What tips do you have for colleagues in the industry to help them thrive and not burn out?
Cameron Davies: Integrate change. When you build the same thing and don’t try to innovate, you’re gonna get burnt out. One thing I love about what I do, we’ve become kind of the industry standard. Always try to improve. Move forward. These are changing times, and they’re challenging times, but if you can find creative ways to do something more efficient and more effective, then run with it. We’ve gone from 18ft trucks to 30ft for the kitchen alone. We built the worlds largest mobile kitchen, a $2 million dollar, which is 97ft bumper to bumper. Things like that don’t come without risk, we built out a lot of competition for this build, and I understood when I took it that there was no room for error and a tight timeline, but without risk you don’t get reward. Be innovative, be your own brand, and create a culture and not just a company.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve some success without some help along the way, is there a particular person you’re grateful towards who helped to get you where you are? Can you share a story?
Cameron Davies: My wife is my rock, she’s always had my back even when we were broke and couldn’t make a living. She continues to have my back even as we’ve grown, but my grandparents were the ones who believed in me from day one. They’re the ones who told me I should start building food trucks. I did my research with them and ran with it. They helped me initially and I paid them back every penny. It was really rewarding. They’re in their 90s now, but at the unveiling of our new mega facility they got to cut the ribbon at the grand opening, which was a huge honor. Finally, my mom is my hero, she’s always been there for me no matter what.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for that. Let’s shift to the main focus of the interview. The title of this series is how to take your company from good to great. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a good company? What does that look like? How would you define a great company? What does that look like?
Cameron Davies: A good company makes money, sustains, provides opportunity for employment. A great company is successful and takes care of their employees. When media calls, they always ask how many employees do you have, and I always say none. I have 70 people that work with me, not for me. You’re only as strong as your weakest person, and if you do it together you can accomplish so much more. So, a great company provides valuable assets to employees, not just employment.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would your advice be to a business leader who went thru years of growth but hit a standstill be?
Cameron Davies: As bad as the pandemic has been, it gave us a lot of insight into how to not be stagnant. We kind of restructured, brought some new people in, and came up with ways on how to maximize our potential. It’s times you need to disconnect, shut down, and really take a step back and look at how you’re running things. The people you have in power, just everyday duties, and make sure you’re maximizing efforts. There are times you grow fast and put the wrong people in place. You don’t let them go, but you put them in positions better suited for their skillset. Sometimes you need to take a step back and reflected on not only your efforts but the efforts of those working with you.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, what aspect of running a company tends to be the most underestimated?
Cameron Davies: Communication. Although I’m the CEO of many companies, I’m right there on the forefront of everything. You can’t lose sight of how you got to where you’re at, and I couldn’t have done it alone, so I think that you’ve got to keep a close relationship with everyone that helped you get there. Make sure you have time for people and time to give back. You’re put in power because you work hard, and because you’re there to help.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts on how a company should be engaged with social media?
Cameron Davies: You have to be careful with social media and stay away from certain topics, but you also can’t oversaturate your base because you can lose engagement. We follow algorithms, and our team works constantly to provide us with great content.
Jerome Knyszewski: What is the most common mistakes you’ve seen CEOs make when they start a business, and what can be done to prevent those errors.
Cameron Davies: Not enough work ethic. They get funded and misappropriate funds. I started from scratch and had to work for it. You’ve got to know going in and starting a business it’s not going to be a 40-hour week and it never will be. Being careful with how you use your funds, and just work hard. Hire people that can help you get to the top.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
The post An Interview with Cameron Davies, CEO of Cruising Kitchens appeared first on Tekrati.