At tomorrow's Entrepeneur Of The Year Awards Gala, Crystal Maggelet will receive a special Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of all that she has accomplished as CEO of FJ Management.
After graduating from Pepperdine University and Harvard Business School, Crystal and her husband started the Crystal Inn which grew into a regional chain of 14 hotels. Crystal eventually took a step back from the business to raise her four children until her father's untimely death and a series of events led to Flying J, her father's company, going bankrupt, when Crystal took over as CEO of Flying J. " All of a sudden I came out of being a stay-at-home mom to being CEO of a very large company," Crystal says. As the leader of thousands of employees, she was able to restructure, pay back every creditor, save jobs, and ultimately save the company. "When we went into bankruptcy I really felt that I wanted to preserve my dad's name and I knew he was a man with integrity and I just knew he would want to make sure people were working a job. I believed I could do it, I have been very fortunate to get an MBA from Harvard and I felt prepared from an education standpoint," Crystal says.
Now called FJ Management, Inc. the company has since acquired Maverik, a 230-convenience store chain located in 11 states, and built an additional 85 stores. All FJ Management, Inc. subsidiaries are profitable and continue to grow and adapt.
When asked what advice she has for young entrepreneurs, Crystal says, "I think the biggest things is really to believe in yourself and don't let anybody, naysayers, or people around you get to you and make you think you can't do what you believe. Be prepared to persevere. I think confidence is extremely important for an entrepreneur because there will probably be days when it doesn't feel like you are doing the right thing and you need to have the confidence to feel comfortable that you are." She adds that it can be particularly hard for women to feel confident, and that finding the right mentor can help women juggle the many responsibilities they often have.
"I am very touched" Crystal says of receiving the Lifetime Achivement award.. I don't know that I feel that I am necessarily deserving of it, but I am very proud to receive it. I don't know that I consider myself entrepreneurial, but I think if entrepreneurship is growing something then I probably qualify for it. But I am definitely very honored and humbled that I would be selected for it. I think it is an amazing honor."