From now on, when I think of the word entrepreneur, Alex K. Tchekmeian will be the first person who comes to mind. From a very young age, he had the makings of a true businessman. Today, Tchekmeian is the president and founder of AKT Enterprises (which is made up by 16 companies).
“The man is probably 60,” you might think. Think again. He is under 30!
Alex’s success in the entertainment industry has not gone unnoticed. Business Week named him one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25” back in ’07. Impressive would be an understatement.
Originally from Florida and still stationed in the state, Tchekmeian oversees the operations of his various ventures which range from merchandising to print and digital media to artist management and branding/marketing.
With AKT Enterprises’ more than 500,000 customers, it is a fact that anyone could learn a thing or two (or 20!) from this hustling businessman about negotiating.
One of his tactics? Playing nice!
“While it is important to go into a negotiation with the understanding of what you're trying to achieve, it's also important to be realistic and fair,” Alex explains.
In order to achieve mutual benefit in a negotiation room, he says that both parties should make reasonable requests. It does not matter how great a deal opportunity might be, it could go out the window if the game isn’t played fairly. A piece of advice from Alex is to always keep the other party’s interests in mind or you’ll risk not achieving your ultimate goal.
In his quest to expand his entertainment empire, Tchekmeian recently struck a great deal for a warehouse that will soon become AKT’s headquarters. The 30,000-square-feet space in Central Florida was the outcome of a negotiation that worked to his advantage because, in this case, they “were holding the deck of cards.”
Lately, Alex has been focusing on one of AKT’s newest additions – Big Top Shirts, a store specializing in screen-printed garments, promotional items, embroidery and design. As they developed and expanded this retail venture, a lot of research had to be done. The main challenge, Tchekmeian explains, was construction. During that development phase, his tasks included gathering enough objective criteria to make the best possible decisions in terms of hiring and negotiating with architects, contractors and project managers.
A man like Tchekmeian, undoubtedly, has many things to be proud of in his career. In terms of deal making, he thinks his clients are one of his biggest accomplishments. In a very competitive industry, he attributes the company’s success to their deal-making stages in which they look out for the client’s best interest. To him, this is key. It’s the difference between a relationship with a customer that is eager to come back to you and a deal-gone-wrong in which companies just tried to “squeeze a few pennies from their pocket.”
I love Post-its with enlightening messages. Thanks to Alex, I’ll be pinning these new ones on my cork board: “Fair play” “Look into your long-term benefits” “Focus in other party’s needs” “Stay realistic” “Play nice”