“I want to make sure that the people who work hard and do well for me, that they’re taken care of first.”
Employees: 14 full time; 3 seasonal
For Eric Donaldson, being a business owner comes with one key responsibility: caring for the employees who trust him for their livelihoods. Watching his father and mother over the years, he learned what it takes to be a small business owner. Eventually, he embraced the challenge himself, taking over his father’s logistics company.
How did you become a small business owner?
I’m a second-generation business owner. My dad started the company right around 1978, and about 12 years ago I went to work there to help him with the transition the company was making. Originally it started out as a plan to help him transition his business model, but it was perfect timing. I needed a company that really gave me a start out of college.
Why did you become an NFIB member?
In 2006 or 2007, there was a major tax policy change in the way the state calculate their franchise tax, and it greatly affected my industry. An NFIB sales rep stopped by my office, and it was the perfect timing. I contacted Will Newton and talked about NFIB, and it felt right and I appreciated where they were coming from, and what they stood for in terms of representing the little guy. I have not been disappointed. I’ve been a member of their leadership council ever since, and in 2010, was honored with the Small Business Champion Award.
In what ways has NFIB helped your small business?
It’s provided me with a ton of education, and a lot of resources—not only for myself but also my company. They’re very good about disseminating information on the various laws and issues that are going on, and that’s been a huge help. I’ve also met some incredible people. NFIB is almost an advisory board for our group of guys and girls that are involved. We’re all in the same boat.
What’s the biggest challenge that faces Texas small business owners like you?
I think it’s keeping up with all the changes in legislation—from a federal level there’s been a pretty big sweeping change, and a lot of legislation that’s going to affect the workforce. On a local level it’s keeping an eye on what’s happening. There’s a lot of moving parts with the economy and with the state population growing and school funding, so I can foresee a lot of changes coming.
Any time there’s something of a change in tax policy of any form, it affects a small business owner. Being small, we don’t have as great of resources to react as some of the larger companies do, so we have to be on the lookout and pay attention.
What advice would you give new NFIB members to make the most of their membership?
Get involved, meet people, try to attend a couple of events at least. There’s a lot of stuff going on, so you can’t be involved in everything but try to get involved a little bit. More importantly, try to meet some folks and see if it’s something you can garner a relationship out of. There are a lot of people that can really help you out, and they can introduce you to people.
What could help your industry grow?
I don’t know that it’s the Legislature’s’ job to help the company grow. In fact, I think it hurts business when they come in and help the big companies grow with tax breaks, and don’t do that for small business. I think that keeping things simple and not overcomplicating the process helps everybody. And not forgetting that while big business might have a tremendous headline impact on the community, small business is really the one that makes the impact on the community.
I think that there’s a greater economic impact when 20,00 small business employees lose their jobs then when 20,00 Shell employees lose their jobs. Keeping things simple and keeping things in perspective—that it takes a lot of little guys to really keep this thing going.
Who has been a small business hero or mentor that has helped to shape your entrepreneurialism?
Obviously my dad—watching him since I was little. I’ve had a ton of folks through the years—a lot of the guys on the leadership council have been good mentors for me. To just single one out would be unfair to a lot of folks.
Understanding that there comes great responsibility with being a business owner, because I have a lot of family’s that depend on me doing my job well. I like that responsibility, and I learned that probably more from my mom, in the sense that it’s more of a caretaking responsibility. I know that I’ll be fine, but I want to make sure that the people who work hard and do well for me, that they’re taken care of first.