Randy Minchew, 63, believes life dealt him a pair of deuces. It’s not the worst poker hand, but it’s the least powerful pair in a game of Texas Hold ‘em.
After overcoming years of physical abuse and addiction as a youth in Houston, Texas, Minchew found himself at Palmer Drug Abuse Center, working as a counselor with only a GED.
Minchew persevered from there, embarking on a career as an entrepreneur. He has started more than 20 limited liability corporations, celebrated 46 years of ongoing sobriety, raised children and grandchildren and served on the boards of many philanthropic organizations.
Now, Minchew wants to bring his problem-solving skills to the Columbia City Council as its Sixth Ward representative. He’s challenging incumbent Betsy Peters in next Tuesday’s election. Philip Merriman is also running for the seat.
“They always say it’s about who you know, not what you know,” Minchew said. “I’m living proof of that. Because what do I know, right? I’ve got a GED. I’m not going to impress you with the letters after my name, so really it’s about who I know, and what I’ve learned over the years.”
Minchew married his wife, Cindy, a fellow counselor in Houston, in 1980. Two years later, they had the first of their four children.
“We literally started our marriage with $100,” Cindy Minchew said. “So our successes and failures have been because of our hard work. And if we fall, you just get right back up.”
Limited by his education, Minchew found himself filling out job applications rather than creating a resume when he was looking for a better job to support his family early on.
“Resumes were for people who had an education or something to put on it,” Minchew said. “I didn’t have references; I didn’t have any of that stuff.”
Minchew eventually took the tests necessary to get a stockbroker’s license. Then he got a job selling copiers before becoming a wholesale jewelry salesperson for a diamond company. That’s the job that brought him and his family to Columbia in 1994. When he was laid off during a company restructuring, he and Cindy Minchew decided to stay in Columbia and raise their children here, mainly because of the schools and they loved the city.
Education was a top priority in the Minchew family. Their daughters are the first women of Cindy’s lineage to go to college.
“Our top priority was for our kids to go to college,” Cindy Minchew said. “We don’t care what we have to do, and so we just worked hard, both of us, to get them to where they could go to university.”
After spending time working for a siding and window company, Randy Minchew started Swift Windows, Doors and More himself. He went on to launch several other companies, including The Scoop Frozen Custard, a downtown custard shop; The Missouri Golf Post, a magazine; Innovat’d, a marketing, planning and management consulting firm; the Midwest Golf Network, a marketing company for the golf industry; and his rental company, Hashtag Enterprises.
Minchew tried to retire at 58 but didn’t like it. That came as no surprise to his wife, who says he’s always doing more than one thing.
“He has a lot of energy. If it diminishes, it’s because he’s been put in a box,” she said. “The more he’s involved in, the more he flourishes.”
When longtime friend and fellow entrepreneur Greg DeLine approached Randy Minchew about a job, he was excited to get back to work. For the past three years, Minchew has worked as chief operating officer at DeLine Holdings. The conglomerate does business in finance, real estate, housing, retail, equestrian rescue, development and online sales. His job is networking, connecting dots and ensuring the firm has surveyed all possible avenues and angles.
Minchew handles business development for DeLine by mentoring new startups and assisting with their marketing. He describes himself as a “connector.”
One of Minchew’s favorite books is Malcom Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point,” in which the author says a successful business requires someone who understands the industry, someone who is a salesperson and someone with connections.
“My job in life, literally, is connecting people,” Minchew said.
Minchew met DeLine when they were members of the board at Love Inc., six years ago. DeLine found Minchew to be “extremely caring” and “a good listener.”
“If I’m wanting somebody to hear me and speak for me and represent me, then I want somebody to stand up and use their voice,” said DeLine, who is a major contributor to Minchew’s campaign. “I think that’s the thing I want to really encourage voters to know, is that Randy is going to use his voice. He’ll speak up.”
Minchew has volunteered for several philanthropic groups, including Phoenix Health Programs, Rock the Community, Powerhouse Corp., Decade of Giving through the DeLine Foundation, Feed the Hungry, Grade A Plus, Columbia Youth Football League, Rockbridge Touchdown Club, Love Columbia and the BC Baseball League. The Minchews also operate a sober house for men recovering from addiction and contribute to a horse rescue ranch in Florida.
Minchew attributes his passion for philanthropic work to his family history.
“You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve come from,” Minchew said. “I think knowing where our families come from, I just have a heart for people who are disenfranchised.”
In this way, DeLine says he and Minchew are the same.
“If we can use an experience and save somebody else from trouble, some misery, if we can give a hand up rather than a handout, we really want to do that,” DeLine said.
Minchew said a City Council position would enable him to do more good.
“If you’re on City Council you have one of the most important positions,” he said. “If that ain’t a platform to help from, I don’t know what is.”
Minchew said he understands that everyone wants to have a voice, and he intends to be a listener. The first step in problem solving, he said, is discovery, gathering all the research, angles and facts surrounding a particular challenge. DeLine said Minchew understands challenges he hasn’t experienced himself because of his philanthropic work.
Minchew, however, acknowledged his still has much to learn, particularly when it comes to racial disparities in Columbia.
“I don’t even know the half of what it’s like to be left out because you’re Black or Hispanic,” he said. “I don’t get it, you know? I’m a 6’2”-tall white dude who looks like I’m walking around acting like I own America, right? I’m not left out of anything, but I could see where someone like me could be of benefit and where I could serve better if I understood more what the plight is.”
Minchew has two deuces tattooed on his shoulder to remind him of his life philosophy: that with hard work a person can achieve anything they set their minds to. God, he said, sometimes throws down another deuce, and with three of a kind, a person can win.
“That’s just always been part of my motivator,” Minchew said. “If I don’t work hard, I mean like work harder than anybody can imagine, I won’t win because I just don’t possess all that it takes to win without working hard.”