Will West, is perhaps the most understated entrepreneur I’ve met.
His voice, deep; his language, articulate; his description, thoughtful; his manner, mild. Like a radio newsman giving you directions to the station, Orange County’s superhero of business rolls from one amazing acquisition story to another.
The founder of ACRE, which is a major player in the Security Technology Industry, Will West and his partners formed the company in 2012. Shortly thereafter, they purchased a carve-out from Ingersoll Rand’s global lock and industrial technology business; then, a year later they purchased another major player in the industry called Mercury Security.
While all of that merging was happening, Will began courting the German Behemoth, Siemens, in an attempt to acquire a carve-out of its security products business. The first contact was in 2012, closing at the end of 2014, making ACRE the global leader in the hardware design in the Security Technology Industry and the fifth largest in the same industry for the systems themselves.
He’s been busy. To add a little clarity to this story, in 2012, Will had a company with no business.
By January of 2015, he had assembled the right pieces, combined with organic growth, and is now, three and a half years later, a global industry leader.
Consider the physical rigors of these endeavors:
- 4 A.M. daily phone calls to Europe for almost two years
- Travel from California to Europe for due diligence and negotiations
- Remaining married
- And raising children!
And now, as he puts it in his understated description (although you can feel the enthusiasm bubbling just beneath the surface), the real work begins: operating a global Security Technology Industry leader through additional acquisitions and organic growth.
Much of his ability to manage that rigorous lifestyle and still have some fuel for his family comes from the attention he pours into his body:
“I don’t believe that anybody with an average or above average amount of demands on their life can effectively deal with dedicating themselves to their business, to their family and to themselves without a plan.”
“For me, it’s very much like the concept behind savings. You pay yourself first. So I made the decision two years ago that my first priority would be assuring my own health, fitness and well being because that would make me best positioned to be able to serve the family and the business.
“I schedule my time at Stark wisely knowing what my other commitments are but making sure that if I’m not traveling, I come in for my regular workouts and other meetings, phone calls and so on. Family time is scheduled around that. I find that if I’m willing to get up early or stay up late, then I can get everything done but making sure that the exercise and wellness component of my life is taken care of first.
“It’s not unique to me. I think it’s a mindset that comes with both the younger generation whose very motivated for upward mobility and it comes with a certain portion of the professional world that is driven by performance and feeling the stress of demands on their life.
“I tend to see the people who are the highest performers professionally looking for a solution to keep doing what they’re doing but feel better while they’re doing it and usually, the exercise and nutrition components eventually surface in those discussions.
“I often find, however, that many of them don’t have a trusted advisor to help them get there. They sign up with a trainer. They don’t necessarily have a plan. They try a diet. They don’t necessarily stick with it or have a plan and there are a lot of moving pieces to the wellness puzzle. I think the biggest challenge within that group is finding the strategy that pulls all of the pieces together.
“Coming to Stark has been transformational for me. I was active my entire life. I ran marathons. I exercised regularly. I ate very well. But I was never as happy with how I felt or how I looked or what I could do as I have been in the last two years. The first six months I was here, I gained 20 pounds of muscle and lost 10 pounds of body fat and since I started a couple of years ago, I’ve gained about 30 pounds of muscle.
“I get constant comments on how good I look, and that was never the goal. That was a byproduct of just getting healthy, but it was the transition from the corporate lifestyle to a more logical attack plan and strategy for wellness has truly been transformational. But I credit Stark for bringing out aspects of me physically that I didn’t imagine were possible.