Mind of an Entrepreneur – Derrick Williams

derrick williams d2 forged

Last month we went deep in the mind of entrepreneur Jordan Swerdloff, and got a glimpse at how he used the principles of ART-E to create a new concept for the wheel company that was innovative and now adapted by all. Today, we look at Derrick Williams, also in the same industry but with a different approach to his business. Derrick also owns a wheel company called D2 Forged, which has done a great job at differentiating itself in the wheel industry as a boutique wheel that makes no excuses in terms of quality. As Derrick continues to see growth, we felt he would be a good example of how him and his brother started D2 Forged Wheels with very little and have quickly set themselves apart. Today, we deep dive in his mind and see how he uses ART-E…

How To Differentiate Your Brand

We launched the wheel line in 2008, and I would have to say the most asked question we got was “What makes your wheels different / better than xxx, or yyy?”. Our answer was always to let the product speak. We choose a different segment of the marketplace (hard core enthusiasts), and marketed directly to them. We purposely didn’t do any chrome wheel sets, large SUV’s, or anything other than high-performance and exotic cars for the first 18 months. We were “car guys” building wheels for “car guys” and the right people took notice. That was a risky move as there is much less market share at that level, and we were up against some very established name brands. We are not just some bean counters looking to turn a profit. Our passion is what differentiated us from any and every other company. We built every wheel set to totally transform the car that it went on, and that’s exactly what happened. A perfect example is “Project Heaven“, that we collaborated with you guys on. Any other wheel on that car, and it would have been a major fail! 3 years later we have acquired our own share of the market, and are regarded as a “go to” company for the sickest wheels for the sickest rides. This being done with 20% of the capital and manpower that our competition has.

derrick williams d2 forged

How To Manage Change

I will have to choose my comments carefully on this topic, because it is one of our key advantages over other wheel companies!! The world around us is at a state of constant change. Just take one look at technology, fashion, even politics, nothing stays the same for long! I manage change by keeping a open mind, and gleaning the best advice from my consulting team. I find it absolutely insane that a company will maintain an archaic method of doing business, simply because it has “worked for xxx number of years”. We took a leap of faith in our advertising strategy about 18months ago. We re-allocated our print budget to online, social media, and key marketing venue promotion. At the time, I was told we were totally crazy, and without print we would die. We now have 15,000 facebook fans, 4,000 twitter followers, have done 5 International Autoshows, the SEMA convention, have been featured on Live National television with the WWE, and are a permanent fixture on nearly every automotive blog. The landscape changed, and we were a step ahead of that change. That’s not to say that we won’t do print, because we do, but we try different things, in relation to our marketplace. To be totally honest, I take cues from other industries, and adapt them to the wheel business. I’m intrigued by the technology, and fashion industries in particular, because the newest thing is already old, yet the system continues to thrive. To quote my father “You learn something new everday, if you’re open to change”.

Remaining Self Motivated

Much like the last topic, my source of motivation is a evolution that is constantly changing. During my childhood years, the harsh realities of my living situation and the approval of my family motivated to do the best possible in anything. Raised primarily in a single parent home, there were a lot of things that my mother simply could not afford to provide for Stefan and I, but she NEVER let me feel bad or complain about it. I was taught to hold my head high and have self pride, I truly believe that pride fueled my motivation.

During my late teens and early twenties, my propensity to expensive things motivated me. I wanted the nicest custom wheels for my luxury car, the coolest new phone or gadget, imported Italian footwear, and a night out at the hottest NYC club. Those things add up quickly so I had to create various revenue streams to supply my lavish habits. I had a great job at a Fortune 500 company making six figures at 24 years old, and I decided to take some spare cash and my spare time to start a online business. It was called D2AUTOSPORT.com. That company is alive and well to this day and has provided the platform for D2FORGED and TheD2Life!

d2 forged wheels

I’m in my early thirties now (32), and my family motivates me. I still love all the finer things life has to offer, but I simultaneously need to provide those experiences for my wife and 2 children. Not to mention 2 college educations that need to be paid for!! I have always taken offense with individuals that “blame” their family for what they have not accomplished. You hear people say things like “I used to have a nice car , but then I had kids”, but my thought process is that’s not your kids fault. You need to get motivated and figure out how to drive a Lambo AND support your family!!!!

To put it simply, I am never satisfied with my position or status, no matter how good or bad it may be! There is always another plateau that I can elevate to, be it on a financial, personal or even spiritual level.

I could not speak about motivation without mentioning the “F’ word……FAILURE!! Throughout all of my successes, I have had a ton of failures, but I embrace my critical mis-steps because I learned from each one! My failures provide some of the best motivation, because I never want to relive them again.