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Entrepreneurial Ventures

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. So, despite working for the Church my whole career, I found opportunities to learn and practice in several disciplines. I consider myself fairly accomplished in the following fields: translator, project manager, product manager, social media and internet strategist, and writer.

Seminars

In school, they never teach you how to learn or how to study. I believed that college students could be much more successful if they learned some basic skills. So, on November 17, 1983, I presented a two-hour seminar on how to be an effective student. It covered study techniques, notetaking, and how to study for and take tests. I advertised it by handing out about 5,000 fliers to college students on the streets and putting them on cars. I rented a room at Provo High School. Only a dozen people attended. I tried the seminar again on March 6, 1984, this time with an ad in the BYU newspaper, but again only a few people showed up. The ideas would have helped students be successful, but as a seminar, it was not successful.

Richman Enterprises and TransCorp

By March 1981, I had set up two businesses, Richman Enterprises and TransCorp. Richman Enterprises was an umbrella for various ideas I had for businesses. TransCorp was to provide translation, transculturalization, and computer transfer services. These were gateway businesses that got me into Richman Communications, Richman Publishing, and Century Publishing.

Richman Communications

On October 15, 1981, I attended a pre-business workshop sponsored by the Small Business Administration in preparation for starting part-time business ventures.

I tried my hand at selling computers, computer accessories, and supplies. I set up dealer accounts with distributors in California, Oregon, and back east to get the best price on any given product. I sold only a few floppy disks.

I had received mailings from various publishers soliciting biographical information to publish my name in books such as Who’s Who in the West and Outstanding Young Men of America. They offered to publish my entry in the biography and then encouraged me to buy their overpriced hardbound book with my name in it. My biographical entry was published in Who’s Who in the West (19th, 21st, and 22nd editions), Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America (2nd, 3rd, and 4th editions), Outstanding Young Men of America 1983, and Dictionary of International Biography (volume XIX). (See Who’s Who entries.)

So, I thought, “I can play this game as well.” I talked with the director of the Provo Chamber of Commerce, the assistant to the mayor, and others about my plans for a book about who’s who in Provo, Prominent Men and Women of Provo 1983. By February 1982, I had compiled a mailing list of 5,600 names of prominent people in the community. I printed letters, brochures, and biography forms to mail to them. I hired Teri Jackman (a girl in our ward) to type addresses on the envelopes. I needed help, but I also wanted to have more chances to interact with her. When people returned their biography forms, I entered the information into my Apple II+ computer, sorted the entries, and prepared the press-ready copy. I did not make as much money on the project as I thought I would, but it was a good learning experience.

I also developed an educational game Book of Mormon Quiz Game. It was a set cards with questions and an answer sheet in a box. Bookcraft had agreed to distribute it, but backed out of the arrangement, I did the distribution and sold it through Deseret Book, BYU Bookstore, Timp Mission Bookstore, and other stores beginning with the 1982 Christmas season.

Century Publishing (1981–present)

I founded Century Publishing in July 1981 and operated it under the names Richman Communications and Richman Publishing until March 15, 1995, when I changed the name to Century Publishing. Century Media was the name for the media arm of the company. I used the company to publish some of my own materials, but also to help other authors publish books and other products in niche markets.

The company provided writing, editing, translation, graphic design, printing, and distribution services. I provided these services myself or contracted them out to others. See centurypubl.com.

Publications

The company published books, booklets, and educational games on a variety of topics, including religion, social issues, business, project management, culture, linguistics, and biographies. (See a complete list of titles that I have authored at LarryRichman.org/author.) The following are the books the company published:

English Titles

Spanish Titles

Websites

I also helped various nonprofit organizations set up and run websites. Examples include Northern Neck Humane Society, Equality and Justice, Evergreen International, Same-Sex Attraction, and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.

I created the website SameSexAttraction.org in January 2008 to provide an understanding of same-sex attraction from a Christian perspective. I worked with several authors to provide practical ideas on how LGBT Christians could make behavioral life choices in alignment with their religious values. The site was retired October 5, 2016. During that time, it was visited over one million times.

Richman Investments Residential Housing

For several years, I participated in an investment group that bought and leased residential rental properties. We were organized as Lowry Investors, Inc, a Utah Corporation, and I was a director and the corporate secretary. (See Lowry Investors.jpg.) I never really made money from it, but I learned a lot.

After that, Teri and I bought single-family houses and duplexes. At one point we owned eight properties: five single-family homes (on Green Street, Park Street, Edith Avenue, Glenmare Street, and West Temple) and three duplexes (on Park Street, Emery Street, and West Temple). They were mostly break-even in cash flow, but we saved some money in taxes with write-offs.

After a few years, they were too much to handle with a full-time job, family, and Church callings, so we began to sell them. One event finally convinced me to sell them—in the middle of the night, I had to wade through two feet of water in the living room of the apartment on Emery Street to shut off the water main that had frozen and burst.

A few of the buyers defaulted and we were left at risk for the mortgages, which caused us to declare bankruptcy to release the liability for the mortgages. After we sold the final house, calculations showed that all our profits from the sales went to taxes and we were none the richer for the thousands of hours we put into maintaining the properties, collecting rents, and taking defaulting renters to small claims court. It was a time-consuming, non-rewarding effort.

Rocky Mountain Recovery

This was a business I tried for a few years on the side. I manufactured key tags that provided a way for lost keys to be returned to their owner. The tags were encoded with a serial number that identified the person who bought the tag. If the keys were ever lost, the tag instructed the finder to drop them in any mailbox and they would be sent to Rocky Mountain Recovery, and we would return the keys to the owner.