The improbability of a business succeeding for a year, let alone 30, despite facing such poor conditions at its origin isn’t lost on Murphy or Collins, the latter of which admits he thought the company wouldn’t last long. From the beginning to the present, three significant things worked in their favor, though: a drive to succeed, a strong friendship and great chemistry.

“I believe one of the keys to a successful partnership is that you need to care more about the well being of your partner than you do about the business,” says Murphy. “I want to help Gary reach his goals both personally and professionally. I want him to have his dream job.”

Collins and Murphy’s journey from neighborhood kids to successful business partners is chronicled and celebrated in their new book: “From Rags to… More Rags.” They felt compelled to write their story because several people have advised them to do so and because they believe there is a need for books that tell true tales of the people in the industry. Theirs is one of friendship and perseverance.

“It’s just not something we could have easily quit on,” says Collins. “A business kind of evolves into like a child. What infant child would a parent just give up on?”

Drive and friendship are important, but how far can a co-owned company go if the people running it aren’t compatible? Yes, Collins and Murphy are lifelong friends who share hobbies, but in terms of personality, they’re quite different, and neither thinks Supreme Maintenance Organization would have lasted if this distinction didn’t exist.

“A successful business partnership is like a marriage. You can never get complacent, never take things for granted, and you must stay committed to serving the other. The effort you put in and what you expect from each other needs to be compatible,” says Collins. “With all that said, the most important quality of a successful partnership is trust. It takes a while to build trust and it can be lost in a blink of an eye. I think I’m getting too old to have time to trust someone else as a business partner,” Collins says jokingly.


previous page of this article:
Helping Each Push Past Financial Problems