Frank Rodriguez bought his lunch two days a week at a local sandwich shop. He was in his third year at a corporate law firm when that sandwich shop changed his life.
Rodriguez had always admired the shop’s owners, Michael and Ali Arnow, because they were once engineers who had the courage to leave steady jobs and become entrepreneurs. The Arnows, who knew Rodriguez as a customer, came to him in 1992 because he specialized in private placements and the purchase and sale of businesses. The Arnows wanted to discuss the cost of incorporating their sandwich shop. Since most law firms do not educate their young lawyers about the economics of practicing law, Rodriguez did what he was trained to do and simply quoted them his hourly rate. Unsatisfied with the nebulous range in which the cost of his services fell, the Arnows asked Rodriguez to get back to them with a more specific number.
The next day, Rodriguez learned a valuable lesson. When the Arnows came back to his office, he quoted them $850 (equivalent to $2,500 for the same service today) based on the advice of a more experienced lawyer. The Arnows stood up and walked out of the office. As they stood at the threshold, Rodriguez asked, “Why are you leaving?”
Michael Arnow replied, “I don’t like being ripped off,” and left. Rodriguez realized the quote was an excessive amount to charge for the incorporation of a small business. That realization was a transformational moment and led to his decision to launch Corporate Creations in January of 1993 to provide incorporation services at reasonable prices.
Many of his first clients were lawyers who outsourced their incorporation work to help their own clients save money. Corporate Creations reinvented the incorporation services industry by private labeling those services for law firms. Over the years, the business has grown into the third-largest provider of registered agent and compliance services nationwide for Fortune 1,000, Forbes Global 2,000, and private companies. Its revenue qualifies the company for inclusion in the Hispanic Business 500.
Rodriguez had another transformational experience when he learned his 38-year-old brother, Johnny, died in a kayaking accident on the Zambezi River in Africa. The news was devastating. For about one year starting on April 8, 2005, the day of Johnny’s death, Rodriguez stopped working and took a sabbatical. During that time, based on the advice of some wise friends, he focused on three activities to help him heal. “I fed my mind by reading books, watching films, and having interesting conversations,” he says. “I fed my body by exercising five days per week. And I fed my soul by helping others through volunteer work, such as mentoring high school students.” In 2006, Rodriguez and his wife started the Corporate Creations Foundation to manage their philanthropic activities.
The sabbatical was impactful on a personal level and on a business level. At the end of a year, Rodriguez realized that Corporate Creations had made a higher profit during the year he stopped working than in any previous year, thanks to the efforts of a great team. “The success of Corporate Creations transcended me,” he explains. “When you take care of your team, they take care of your clients.” That epiphany has freed much of Rodriguez’s time to focus on his staff and strategy rather than on daily operations, allowing the business to thrive.