#Thrive Thursday: Meet Alice Combs, CEO of Vulcan Wire

thrive thursday Mar 02, 2020

What is your story? Or in other words, what made you your awesome self you are today?

I morphed from a food stamp recipient to the CEO of my own corporation. The trajectory in my book, The Lady with Balls: A Single Mother’s Triumphant Battle in a Man’s World begins when I was fired from my planned career path as a clothes buyer. It was explained that I was neither management nor corporate material. Fearing another humiliation of being fired again, I experimented by trying to sell a variety of products - none of which were lucrative enough to support my two daughters and me. I began to ask “what do you need that you can’t get” until one man said, “Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can’t get it.” Now my business, Vulcan Wire, sells over $10 million of wire used to bale recyclable products.  


What message do you promote?

My message is of perseverance. To succeed in life or in business one must persevere despite obstacles as well as one’s own mistakes. Be focused on the goal and do whatever it takes to meet it. Hammer away or find another route when encountering obstacles and pick yourself up quickly after your mistakes.


In what capacity do you LEAD UP in your community?

If I define community with no boundaries, I promote recycling. The upcoming print-run of my book will be on recycled paper, even though it’s more expensive than paper made directly from trees. I’ve written a magazine article about recycling and will shortly be interviewed by the editor of a recycling-oriented magazine.

With a background of founding a company still thriving forty-five years later, I expect to be advising budding entrepreneurs how to develop and nurture their own businesses. 

I live in a small community where I’ve been a Soroptimist, a school board member, and tutored five children.  


In business and/or in life, share a struggle you overcame that other women can relate to

In order to support my daughters and myself, I couldn’t afford the luxury of following my passion. I needed to earn what was in the ‘70’s a “man’s income.” I originally felt intimidated as a woman trying to break into a male dominated industry. Before I gained confidence, I was often readily dismissed by the men in charge because they didn’t take me seriously. I knew I had to exhibit the “then apparent male qualities” to include knowledge, determination, and strength. Now half a century later I believe women still encounter the challenge to prove themselves capable more so than if they were men.


What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?

What I do now is promote my book, The Lady with Balls. It’s rewarding to receive the positive responses whether from physical gatherings, requests for radio and magazine articles or interviews, and good reviews. I hope eventually to hear stories of inspiration and success from having read my book or met me.

Because I was told forty-five years ago that I was neither corporate nor management material, it’s especially rewarding to have a proven record of Vulcan Wire’s success as exhibited on its website and in the paychecks of sixteen other employees. When I visit Vulcan’s two corporate-owned buildings, I’m thrilled to witness happy and welcoming employees, the machines clattering away, and the big trucks arriving to pick up their baler wire.  


How do you SHOW UP?

I show up as a successful businesswoman in a largely male industry. My book cover shows me reclined against my product.  


If you could give one piece of advice for women who are entering the workforce or launching their own business what would that be? 

I can’t give good advice for entering the workforce, but I believe I have valuable lessons for launching a business: 1) Find a need and fill it; 2) Be prepared financially; 3) Be trustworthy; 4) Be willing to work hard and quickly get back up after setbacks; 5) Never take no for an answer unless you get a damn good reason why not; 6) Read my book to learn from the many mistakes I made and profit from how I managed despite difficulties. 


Connect with Alice:




FB: @Alice Combs

Linked In: @Alice Combs


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