Zak Flynn is no stranger to the restaurant industry. Working 15 years in restaurant operations, Zak was introduced to the struggles of finding gasket services providers that could frequent his establishment. He saw the need for this niche market and decided to take this opportunity and run with it. Gaskets on the Fly was opened in August of 2021 and has been expanding their service area ever since.
Zak came to the SBDC in September of 2022 looking for help in expanding Gaskets on the Fly to be able to service a wider area. He worked closely with SBDC Business Consultant, Shane Groff, on financial projections and strategies on how to expand his business. Gaskets on the Fly has now expanded to offering services in the Austin Texas area!
We sat down with Zak to learn more about Gaskets on the Fly and to hear what advice he has for other business owners!
Name, Business Name, and the year you started your business.
My name is Zak Flynn, my business is Gaskets on the fly, and we started our business in August of 2021
Why did you start your business?
I was actually general manager of restaurants for years, and I saw a void for this service in this area. I was having trouble getting gaskets for my units or a service that would come out and service regularly, so I left my restaurant role in operations and kind of got into the gasket business and then launched my own in August 2021 and haven't looked back since then. I saw the need for it in restaurants for sure.
What’s your favorite memory in the business?
There’s a lot of them but I think the first thing that comes to mind is kind of getting that initial momentum. You know when all the effort and hard work you put into starting and marketing and then you really start to reap the benefits and you see customers start to build and you get the word-of-mouth marketing because they enjoy your service, when you really start to felt that momentum when you’ve started something that’s going to be successful. That’s a great memory of mine.
What’s the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
Well-being the restaurants for 15 years on operations, and not having any weekends, or night, or holidays off, I think that’s probably the quality of life outside of work with the family and getting to go to all my kids’ functions and have a flexible schedule to be able to make it to wherever it is I need to be. You know I think that family time is the most rewarding.
What is the hardest part of owning your own business?
Saying consistent with growth. Amarillo’s not the biggest town but it’s also not the smallest but working to grow and expand and find ideas to be innovative with the business. So, growth is one of the more difficult things.
How does your business get to positively impact your community?
We haven’t done a whole lot of big projects with the community, we’re still a new business but we have supported a lot of local nonprofits. I’m kind of a sucker for dog rescues so things like Scout Street Smart and Gracie’s Project are some of the groups we’ve reached out to and tried to help as much as possible when we can. But looking to get out and do some more also!
What’s the biggest challenge in your business?
Kind of goes back to the hardest part, I think growth and expanding, a year and half in and I'm still a one-man operation and trying to get to that point where I'm hiring employees and get to the at next level where we start building not only our customer base but also our employees and getting a team to run operations. We have launched a little bit in Austin Texas, it’s very new and very green for us and I have my son down there who's heading operations for us. So, getting that growth and all the pieces put together.
What makes your business different than your competition?
I think our personable service. Just building relationships with our customers and getting to know every manager at every store and having a personable small-town service when we come in, they know and trust us. Really working to build and establish that relationship with customers.
What’s your best tip for others in business?
I think whatever trade or business you’re in, it’s all about people and relationships. Every position I’ve been in in the last 10 years it’s always been about making those connections and really getting to know those people. One of the sayings I heard years ago and use today is “you have to collect to dots to be able to connect the dots”. That means every stop and every person you talk to your collecting dots and you’re building those relationships and it all starts to piece together. And you never when one person becomes a manger somewhere else, and they remember “oh we had a gasket service before that we really liked” and we’re expanding that way because of those relationships and dots we’ve established.
What’s your favorite movie or TV series?
I have one of each. I’m huge on comedies especially 90s comedies so on movies I’d have to go with Happy Gilmore, if Happy Gilmore is on I’m watching it, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. As far as TV series, The Office. I love Steve Carrel and The Office is probably one of my favorite running series of all time.