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Boot Barn Founder Discovers Right Fit as Entrepreneur

After graduating Loyola University and serving in the Army Reserves, Ken Meany ’64 went to work for the Standard Oil Company in downtown Los Angeles. But he felt like something was missing.

“It was a nice enough company, but a future career with them wasn’t appealing unless I became a petroleum engineer,” said Meany, a psychology major. “I was young, didn’t have a family and had the time to invest in doing something like owning my own business.”

Meany left his corporate job and went into the shoe business with a friend from Loyola University. In 1973, he opened his own store, Shoe Town. Five years later, he opened a junior shoe store, Boot Barn, which specialized in work boots and Western boots. The 1980 movie “Urban Cowboy” gave a big boost to the popularity of Western boots, and Boot Barn became Meany’s primary focus.

“The best part of being an entrepreneur is being your own boss. Sure, that creates a lot more work but the benefits are far greater,” Meany said. “You’re betting on yourself 100 percent, but you definitely get back what you put in.”

A disciplined work ethic and practical business practices helped  Meany grow that store into 36 by 2007, when he retired. Today, there are more than 80 Boot Barns in six U.S. states and the chain shows continued strong growth.

“The biggest mistake I see young entrepreneurs make is spending too much of their profits too soon. They become forever [stuck] at one operation,” Meany said. “You have to put some money back into the business so it can grow, or use it for a rainy day.”

This entrepreneurial spirit and leadership led to Meany’s induction into the College of Business Administration’s  Alumni Entrepreneurship Wall of Honor at a ceremony April 12. The Wall of Honor recognizes LMU graduates who have achieved success and to provide current students with inspiring, motivational role models. Matthew Graczyk ’81 and Martha Diaz Aszkenazy ’81 were also honored.

“I’m honored and thrilled to be recognized by the university. I made a lot of good friends at Loyola and through being a member of the [Alpha Delta Gamma] fraternity. It was a great source of my personal development,” Meany said.

For more information about CBA’s Alumni Entrepreneurship Wall of Honor and past recipients, please click here.

Posted April 13, 2010