Written in partnership with Araxie Cass
What’s the key ingredient to starting a successful business? Some believe it is hard work or having a strong vision for the future. For Ryan Leonard, founder of NJF Worldwide it is his core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. Leonard applies these values in his business, and in every aspect of his life.
In 2010 when he was honorably discharged from the US Army, Ryan Leonard was ready to take on the challenges of civilian life. He started his business, NJF Clothing, in 2011, and was immediately hit by two major crises. Within a week he lost both his younger brother and his grandfather, two of his closest family members who had a profound impact on his life.
In a situation where many would have crumbled, Leonard channeled his heartache into his business. NJF Clothing gave him the opportunity to serve his community and plant the seed of his future empire. Using skills he gained when he assisted in running a multi-billion-dollar warehouse for the US Army, he was able to grow his company from a custom t-shirt business to a leader in global manufacturing.
In its first ten years of operation, NJF expanded beyond the clothing industry, growing to sell medical equipment and other manufactured goods. Leonard was able to do this by establishing partnerships with companies around the world totaling over $100 billion in yearly revenue and sales. Even before the pandemic, the company was making essential medical supplies like at-home testing kits for colon cancer, women’s health products, and DNA and RNA specimen collection equipment.
As he grew his business, Leonard vowed to serve his country as a business owner. He has carried the values he learned in the US Military into his entrepreneurial career, prioritizing duty, loyalty, and selfless service in all his endeavors. He always makes sure that his community can benefit from the success of his business, whether it’s hiring qualified friends for projects within their trades or donating to local charities. He has sponsored a program in his high school called “Kicks not Cuffs,” which focuses on bridging the gap between youth and the police.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Leonard had the opportunity to serve his country directly through his business. NJF Worldwide began assisting the state of New York by providing them with 3 million PCR swabs. The next year, they increased the order to 26 million rapid tests. Although they promised the order in 16 weeks, NJF was able to deliver the order in a record time of 7 weeks. This allowed FEMA and the New York Office of Emergency Management to provide tests to all schools throughout the state, keeping them from having to shut down for a second year.
NJF’s work during the pandemic helped the company to grow exponentially while providing a much-needed service to the children of New York City. Leonard cites his focus on his core values as one of the primary reasons that the company has been able to grow so much.
“Growing up, my mom always told me to be a leader, not a follower,” said Leonard. “Since then, I’ve led my peers and my battle buddies in Operation Iraqi Freedom and I continue to lead my staff and community in the uphill battle to be Only the Finest, just as our slogan states.”
Leonard says that his values keep him consistent and allow him to create a uniquely fulfilling culture at NJF. He is dedicated to his work and will do anything it takes to get the job done, whether it’s driving trucks, taking phone calls, or placing orders. He believes in treating his business-like family, giving every employee the opportunity and freedom to highlight their talents.
More than two years after the pandemic started, NJF Worldwide is continuing to grow, showing the power that larger goals can have for business owners, or anyone looking for success.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!