We had the good fortune of connecting with Steve Iverson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steve, what role has risk played in your life or career?
If you don’t take risks, you never have a chance to improve, do better, achieve more, and experience greater success. Whether it is a career move, personal growth, or starting a business, you start with risk. You have to choose to stay in your normal routine, or try something that will open the door to new opportunities in life. Every risk I have embraced in life has brought rewards. I’ve left my home town and moved across country for a new job opportunity. I’ve switched careers at the same time we were raising a family. I committed to growing and expanding my business at a time when my successful position at a large corporation was eliminated.
But you don’t take risks without understanding what you could gain or loose. Know all the possible outcomes and make contingency plans. Don’t risk more than you can afford to lose. Nothing in life is a sure thing and life has a way disrupting your best plans. Know your challenges. Ask questions, Embrace mentors. These things will help minimize risk and create a level of support for all your life decisions.
Taking risks has opened the door for promotions, new jobs, better income, and greater satisfaction in life. It has allowed me to provide for my family and send my kids to college. We have been able to do the things we want to do. Those things would not have happened if I had not been willing to take calculated risks.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
CultTVman started around 1996. I was working at CNN Headline News and the company was transitioning to PC’s in the workplace. They stuck a computer on my desk and I was sucked into it. Before long I had my own home PC and was building a website for science fiction models. The name CultTVman came from my video collection of obscure TV shows and Sci-Fi movies. It started on AOL, where I found other people who shared my interest in Star Trek and Star Wars models and we created an early online social group.
From there, I combined that hobby with video editing skills from CNN and created a series of videos called Fantastic Modeling. That was followed by a few books including CultTVman’s Ultimate Modeling Guide to Science Fiction Movies. Selling my own videos and books led me to selling plastic model kits. There were a lot of people looking to buy kits, but they could not find them in their local hobby shops. This was an opportunity.
In addition to selling plastic model kits, I worked with several other individuals to create unique products that compliment the plastic kits, such as detail sets and light kits. Each year, the company grew, with a focus on ecommerce sales. I’ve been fortunate to collaborate and consult with many of the companies producing the products I sell, and have developed both business relationships and friendships. CultTVman was a “side-gig” for me. I worked full time in television production, and spent evenings and weekends building the website, and fulfilling sales, with the help of my wife.
In 2017, I found myself to be one of many people affected by corporate downsizing and change. My television job was eliminated. At the same time, I was offered the opportunity to expand my online sales into wholesale distribution and launched Doll & Hobby Georgia. The growing business had to move out of the garage/basement and into a warehouse in Lawrenceville, GA. Both CultTVman and Doll & Hobby have grown since then. Doll & Hobby is now licensed to produce model kits based on the classic television series Lost in Space.
It has not been easy. I could not have done this myself. I’ve been encouraged and mentored by others, I have asked every question possible to everyone who would put up with me. You never stop learning and you have to embrace change. What worked last year may not work this year and will likely change again next year. Understand the risks ahead, but don’t let them stop you.
People often ask, especially when you are younger, “what are your dreams and ambitions?” I long ago exceeded my dreams. I never expected to be in management or leadership. I never dreamed I would be a business owner, and had no interest it. But when an opportunity presents itself, you have to at least look into it and consider it. You take a risk. you learn and improve. And then you find yourself doing things you never dared to dream. And you become successful.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Atlanta is an exciting city that offers something for everyone. When friends come to town, the one place I like to take them is Manuel’s Tavern in Virginia Highlands. When I worked in television, Manuel’s was an after work hangout, with decent food and beer and friendly atmosphere. The Georgia Aquarium is a nice place to spend an afternoon, surrounded by marine life. The Center for Puppetry Arts is a magical place for anyone that grew up with the Muppets, or Kulka, Fran and Ollie. The Fox Theatre is a majestic center for concerts, musicals, and more. And if you want a little bit of flair, a visit to Little Five Points does not disappoint. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shout out to those that have given me opportunity and trusted me.
I’ll shout out to my college television professor, Dr. Virginia Gregg. She saw something in me, encouraged my education, and provided me with opportunities and growth experiences. We’ve stayed friends for over 30 years, and continue to learn from each other.
The second person I am grateful for is Domenick Esposito, who was my boss at Turner Studios. He trusted me to run my department, supported our needs, and created an environment where we could innovate and succeed. He was an encouraging mentor who helped me build self confidence.
Other: the main CultTVman site is at www.CultTVman.com
All photos shot be me or my wife. No attribution need. feel free to crop as needed