Michael Edwards Watertown, Ct was born in Warwick, Rhode Island; however, he spent most of his youth in Connecticut. In high school, he attended a technical/vocational school where he majored in machine tool technology. After graduation, he pursued a career in the manufacturing industry, completing an eight thousand-hour apprenticeship as a toolmaker and earning his Connecticut State journeyman toolmaker certification. While he enjoyed his work, he also had a passion for the law. He enrolled in Naugatuck Community College, where he studied criminal justice, leading to a twenty-year career as a police officer.
After retiring from the force, he eventually found his way back into the manufacturing industry. He worked as a Machining, CNC supervisor for three years before taking a job at an aerospace manufacturing plant. There Michael was the weekend lead and operated horizontal and vertical lathes as well as supervising the shift. He then became the Manufacturing Supervisor where he was able to apply his six sigma knowledge and lead shop improvements. His extensive industry knowledge encompasses machine operations, Six Sigma, continuous improvement, value stream mapping, and leading process improvement projects.
Michael also spent seven years running a highly successful restaurant and sports bar. This experience eventually led him to start his current endeavor, a Point of Sale (POS) and credit card payment computer business called Integrated Payment Technology (integratedpaytech.com). He and his business partner install and service the POS systems in restaurants, bars, and other businesses that require a credit card and point of sale services.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
I decided to establish my current business when I was still running my restaurant and sports bar known as The Stadium Sports Bar and Grill. We had a POS system that ultimately served its purpose but had very high credit card fees. As a result, I started questioning the process and the companies that administered them. I ended up meeting up with the guy that installed my system and we eventually became business partners. We felt that we could do a better job installing these systems, providing value to a lot of other businesses.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I really enjoy customer interaction. I like dealing with customers and I like saving people money. I like to go in and evaluate their current processes and show them how our system can help them further succeed in their particular business.
What does a typical day consist of for you?
It’s a combination of over-the-phone conversations, installs and service. We could be at a location on a service call, or we would remotely log in to help somebody with their problem. My day is a mix of phone conversations and service calls and sales calls, both in person and over the phone.
What keeps you motivated?
Seeing satisfied clients motivates me and is highly rewarding. I also take pride in introducing individuals to new and innovative technology. The technological landscape is fast-paced and is always changing. Even the computer you’re working on now doesn’t do the things that it did five years ago. Point-of-sale is morphing from having a database at your restaurant to cloud-based data storage. We have gone from having a tower or an all-in-one computer to just having the tablet at your restaurant or business. And of course, credit card processing is evolving and it’ll be in short order where we’re going crypto. It’s all exciting and keeps me motivated to stay in this and keep helping businesses.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
Sometimes I work harder and longer hours, so I try to mix that with some workouts and yoga. I like to balance working out with yoga. I also keep up with different hobbies that I have and spend time with my grandkids. I like keep busy with those things while balancing my work schedule.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
My leadership style is situational. I like to lead by example. I’m a very good communicator. I like to empower people to do their jobs better. I like to lead from the front, if you will. I think that’s what makes me more of a successful leader than someone who just manages. A manager pushes from the back while a leader pulls from the front.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
You never give up and you keep trying and when you fail at something, you’re just learning how to approach the next step for success.”
What trends in your industry excite you?
There’s going to be a lot of businesses starting up because so many closed. It’s a sad thing to point out, because a lot of restaurants and bars and businesses closed down that we used to service. But going forward, there’s going to be a trend of more businesses opening, and a lot more entrepreneurs trying different things. People starting their own businesses should realistically help my business grow. Although the employment rate is rather high, all the jobs out there are for $15 an hour jobs. You want a $15 an hour job? You can go get five of them tomorrow. But if you want a job that’s a real job where you could actually make money and make a living and have a house? Those are not that available right now, so people are going to shift to entrepreneurship.
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
Our goal in five years is to build our company up where we are getting residuals from over a hundred businesses. We’re expanding into New England. We’ve some New regions up there that we’ve captured, like Vermont and we’re working on Maine right now. We’re going to get regionalized.