Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

Raydeo Enterprises: From Neon Signs to Mercedes-Benz Stadium

February 25, 2019

“Throughout your life, people may try to mold you and make you into something that you’re not. Bankers want you to earn a certain amount and pay back your bills, my mom wanted me to work in a steady industry with guaranteed pay and health benefits, and my wife wanted me to stay quiet in church. In the end, I shared my story and was accepted for who I am and what I’ve learned along the way. I can and will write my own story – I is what I is.”  

The Lunch Circuit recently celebrated its twentieth edition by featuring Ball Ground entrepreneur John Mercure. John Mercure of Raydeo Enterprises sat down with Jonathan Chambers of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED) to share how his eccentric spirit and innovative thinking have led to success.

John is the Founder & CEO of Raydeo Enterprises, a custom design, development, manufacturer, and installer of millwork fabrications from metal and wood to signs, railings, and awnings. Since Raydeo’s founding in 1987, John has ensured a promise of satisfaction for every project that comes out of their doors. As a 30-year veteran of the business, John has mastered how to take the most obscure concepts and turn them into reality. Some of Raydeo’s most memorable projects include the World Trade Center, Coffee Stations, Grand Central Station, Ponce City Market, Mercedes Benz Stadium, and the new Atlanta Braves Stadium at Suntrust Park – just to name a few.

How would you define an entrepreneur, and why did you choose to be an entrepreneur versus an employee or a corporate job?

I worked for The Home Depot during a transitional stage in my life while I was going to college, so I knew what it was like to work in that kind of business. I knew from experience that I was the kind of person that likes to control my own destiny, and I hate the thought of anything that controls me. Entrepreneurship is one of those things where you can say, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this today come hell or high water and you beat your head against the wall until the wall falls down.’ I’m a people person, and I love that entrepreneurship allows me to work with different types of people in all kinds of places. Whether its an aquarium, a stadium, or the Smithsonian, every day brings a new opportunity.

Self-awareness is a hot topic today, especially in the entrepreneurship world. How do you interpret self-awareness and how does that work practically?

If you strip a man of all that he is, who is he? You are everything that you learn through your experiences. To be self-aware is being realistic about who you are, what you are, and most importantly, to recognize your deficits even more than realizing your strengths.

You can also fulfill areas of weakness through your coworkers. When you hire people who have different strengths, you create a well-rounded company and propel yourself forward.

What advice are you glad you ignored and why?

“You can’t do that.” My mother was perpetually concerned with me being an entrepreneur. She wanted me to get a consistent, well-paying job that wasn’t too risky. Then one day, she came into the office and saw 15 busy workers and realized I’d built a “real” business of my own. I never listened to advice to “go the conventional path.” I now tell my kids all the time to follow their own path.

How do you feel like your company and team has changed you?

When I started off, I really thought it was all about me. As I get older, I’m trying to change that mindset to “it’s all about you.” This has really become a driving factor in my business. We have been blessed to live a great life and are successful enough to share and give back. Even though we’re giving more, we’re getting more. I didn’t always understand how that principle worked, but it does. We’ve built an educational center called the Apprentice Training Center (ATC), which teaches people that don’t have any previous knowledge how to become carpenters, welders, and metal workers. The center also gives vocational direction to people who don’t have proper support or haven’t made it through college.

What is the toughest part about being an entrepreneur?

The bigger you get, the more responsibility you carry. It’s all about people.  If you fail or stumble, it may affect everyone that works for you, and that’s a lot of pressure. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to carry and share some of the pressure and responsibilities with my coworkers to ensure projects don’t fail.

Our current vice president, Preston, began his career with Raydeo enterprises when we landed a project that was far beyond our ability to achieve. On multiple nights, Preston stuck with me until 2 or 3 in the morning to make sure that we could achieve it. 22 years later, Preston is the vice president of the company because he carries the pressure with me.

What is next for you and your business that you are excited about?

Raydeo is engaging in the first year of what we call the Profit Share Program. What happens to me, I want to happen to everyone else. The hope is that we are able to get more people to buy in and expand as a company. Raydeo also recently landed another major stadium project with the Las Vegas Raiders.

The COED team would like to thank John Mercure for sharing his Cherokee By Choice story. We look forward to seeing what Raydeo Enterprises has in store for the future.

The Lunch Circuit is powered by Fresh Start Cherokee, located at The Circuit, and hosted by the Cherokee Office of Economic Development. Join us for our next Lunch Circuit on March 13th from 11:30 am – 1 pm. Click HERE for more details and ticket information.