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How I became Chief Big Ass


Before I started Big Ass Fans (, the world’s most innovative fan company, I spent a dozen years trying to grow a business that installed sprinklers on warehouse roofs to cool the interiors.

Over those years, my wife, Nancy, and I made sacrifice after sacrifice to succeed. We worked at all hours of the day, night and weekends, handling everything from sales to stamping envelopes. We sold our house to fund the company and quit our jobs to focus on it full-time.

I always tell people that if you’re going to fail, you’d rather fail quickly. For us, it was a slow failure. Maybe I was just too persistent in the situation, but it was a situation where we were never able to reach a critical mass and hire more people to grow.

I took the lessons I learned, though, and found a new opportunity in fans. In 1999, I started the HVLS Fan Company. We adopted our quirkier name a few years later in response to our customers, who called and asked time and time again if we were the ones to make “those big ass fans.” I even took on the title of "Chief Big Ass."

In the time since, we have expanded rapidly and now sell industrial, commercial and residential fans in more than 80 countries. Most importantly, we provide work to more than 400 innovative individuals who design, manufacture, market, sell and install the best fans on Earth.

It all happened because I failed, but I didn’t give up. I refocused and found a new way. I don’t know how else you run a business or how else you live your life, really.

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