Least Asked Questions: James Aiken of Legacy Search

March 3, 2018


Greenville-based Legacy Search is a boutique search firm focused on recruiting executives and associates for the building materials and construction industries. They work mostly along the lines of sales, operations and finance, but do get involved with some technology oriented positions as well.


The company’s president, James Aiken,  said he came up with the idea for the company while working in the recruiting sector.  He wondered what it would be like if he could combine that with the sales.  Those are the easy answers. Here comes the answers to The Least Asked Questions.



A lot of entrepreneurs get caught up in the worrying about things like logos. What is your best advice for them to be really worrying about?


If an entrepreneur is getting caught up on a logo they should be worried about their inability to make a decision. Events pile up very quickly and if you are a perfectionist or not willing to make a decision in a timely manner, you will definitely start to feel it in the stress category. I believe that many first time entrepreneurs try to get everything perfect for the image of their business instead of focusing on the function of their business. You can always refine certain less-complex decisions (such as a logo), but the most important thing is to get out into the market, meet your customers, solve their problems and refine/build your process. As a side note, I believe entrepreneurs worry entirely too much about savings and not enough about revenue.


Who was your first hire? Why?


My first internal hire was Thomas Berry. One of the main reasons is I believe we think a lot alike but also balance each other in times of decision or stress. It’s always good to have a partner that can express disagreement without it turning into a personal issue. He is also very motivated in the sense of what we are looking to do with the business and community as a whole. We have known each other for a long time (went to Riverside High together and attended rival universities) and he had seen the evolution from the very first role I had in recruiting where I knew it would be a multi-year process to create my own firm but stuck with it - so I believe that he has more confidence in me than an unknown person because he has seen everything I have been through and had to do to get to where we are.


People say that at the end of the day, being the head of a startup is lonely because you don’t have someone to actually relate to. Do you feel that is true? Why?


I don’t feel that’s true at all, but I am in the recruiting business. In recruiting, if you are lonely, you are probably broke.


What is the worst part of starting your own business?


Dealing with the government and its endless paperwork.


What is the one company that you wanted to start, but never did?


I still have a couple of ideas bouncing around on physical product businesses, starting small like food trucks, books or micro-restaurants - but nothing I have discounted completely, I just do not have the time to focus on these, first things first!


Who is the first vendor you pay each month?


Everything’s on autodraft so I’m not sure who gets paid first but they are all recruiting focused tools and networks.


What is the worst bill you got that you weren’t expecting?


I did have one time where I was renting a car from Advantage for a couple of days on a business trip and they told me if I upgraded from a compact SUV to the “four wheel drive” it would only be forty bucks extra. So in my haste and haziness from being on a long flight, I affirmed it and it was nowhere near forty bucks extra. I did get to drive a Yukon XL, but it also cost me about $800. Sometimes you just have to eat the fee and feel like a moron. Won’t happen again.


When things get tough in business, who do you turn to for support?


It’s strange because things getting “tough” could either mean you’re not bringing in enough money or you’re not spending enough money. They’re different stresses and most people don’t want to hear about them because they assume you’re either gloating or doom daying. I would rather just keep it to myself and solve my own problems. What little I talk about in regards to my business (outside of my business) would probably be with my father because I know I can just let it all go but I don’t necessarily talk numbers.

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