Larry LeDoyen was only seven years old when he decided to take matters into his own hands. His parents were raised in a Baltimore City blue-collar environment, barely making it through high school. Focused on making ends meet and providing financial security for the family, they didn’t have much extra time to invest in guiding and promoting the extracurricular development of their children. “My parents didn’t even really know what sports were,” Larry laughs today. “But I felt this undeniable draw toward them, so one day, I walked down to the neighborhood recreation center and asked to join a soccer team.”
From that point onward, athletics became a major focus for the young boy, cultivating in him invaluable life skills that would steer him straight through his schooling years and translate into exceptional business acumen later on. “Because I had the wherewithal and courage to march up to that desk at age seven and ask if I could play, sports became that ‘guide to growth’ so lacking in my home life,” he remarks. “I learned how to be a team player and a team captain, which helped me understand the interworking and personalities of a business and how they work in tandem toward a common goal.”
Since those earliest days on the soccer field, Larry has applied the “team” lens across a variety of business situations, using it to lead an array of business endeavors to success. Now, as a founding partner of Velarity, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in business life cycle analysis and assistance, he draws on his extensive business playbook to put the best strategy up on the blackboard. Indeed, as Larry’s approach confirms, the difference between a group of individual employees and true teamwork is seasoned orchestration, end-goal cognizance, and the kind of hindsight that brings 20/20 vision to a company’s current climate.
Launched at the end of 2013, Velarity specializes in meeting its clients where they are. Recognizing that all businesses progress through a life cycle from start-up, to a growth stage, to maturity, to decline, the firm synthesizes the first-hand experience of its partners into business advisory services designed to maximize the financial health of its clients. Its name, a combination of velocity and clarity, outlines the path to success it envisions for clients, whatever the business may need. “We’re unique in that we’re open to playing many different roles as we work with businesses,” Larry says. “We might work on a project basis for a fee, or on an equity basis. We’re open to investing in companies that need cash, guidance, or both. We’re finding our niche, creating a unique monthly meeting for CEOs that promotes business brainstorming and camaraderie beyond the bounds of the office. I’m driven by the opportunity to spend my days drawing on my own experience to help others succeed, and with our company so young, I’m excited to watch as we reach our full potential by helping other businesses reach theirs.”
Larry’s enthusiasm to mentor others was in part inspired by the special relationship he shared with his grandfather. “He was a wonderful person, and we had a lot in common,” Larry remembers. “Of all my wonderful family members, he really stuck out to me as someone I adored, developing shared interests in everything from golf to lobster. He was just a very positive and encouraging human being.”
As well, Larry always admired the way his father ran his business. An HVAC contractor, he had started working at his own father’s company when he was fifteen, eventually taking over the family business and building it into a million-dollar enterprise that fully occupied his attention. “Dad became an expert at what he did, and was able to succeed entrepreneurially even though he didn’t know much about business,” Larry recalls. “In many ways, he’s a lot like some of the clients we serve at Velarity today.”
Larry worked for his father’s business in the summers, gleaning insights about business practices in general as he watched and observed. “It was my first exposure to the concept of creating something, selling it to somebody, and making money,” he explains. “As I cut sheet metal for him, my interest in business was sparked.” Entrepreneurial at heart, Larry would set up snow cone stands in the city in the winters, serving shaved ice with flavored syrup to earn spending money.
These fledgling business efforts complemented his evolving athletic abilities, and as sports became a greater and greater element of his character, his family assimilated the culture and became supportive fans. As a freshman at a private Episcopal high school, he made every varsity team he tried out for. He was named Maryland State Athlete of the Year in 1982, accomplishing state scoring records in soccer that have yet to be beaten. He was named an All-American lacrosse player, an All-Metro soccer player, and an All-Metro lacrosse player his senior year.
When it came time for college, the University of Virginia offered him a full-ride to play lacrosse, and Larry was ready to get out of Baltimore. “I wanted a new start—the chance to try something different,” he remembers. Academics had never been important to him, and never would be, paling in comparison to his passion for athletics. Yet the commitment began to take a toll on his body, to the point that he could hardly play. He ended up transferring to Johns Hopkins, where he took a semester off from sports to regain his health. He came back full-force to become the top midfielder, leading a breakout performance in a game against North Carolina that essentially turned the season around for the team and propelled them to victory as the 1987 NCAA champions.
Then, during his senior year of college, his goals began to shift from corporal to corporate. That spring, in 1987, he joined forces with a friend from his high school days to rent a modest space on the boardwalk in Ocean City. The partners opened a humble fast food pizza and sub shop called the Hungry Surfer, and when Larry graduated from college several months later, he moved down to Ocean City to run the shop full-time over the next several years.
Larry learned the business inside and out, and after its first year, they made $30 thousand. He used the money to purchase a screen-printing machine and dryer, launching an apparel company that printed t-shirts. As that venture grew to $10 million in revenue over the next five years, the partners opened a barbeque joint. Everything was humming along smoothly until the day in 1998 when Larry fell ill. He was unable to work for the next three years, likely stricken with advanced Lyme disease that wasn’t detected until much later. As fate would have it, Larry met and married a young lady during those tumultuous years. The marriage didn’t last, but the two children it produced have become the true loves of Larry’s life. “The moment I became a father was among the most definitive of my life,” he affirms. “My kids bring me joy, even on the days it’s hard to come by. When things aren’t going well, I remind myself that I have them, and that’s a great thing.”
When Larry was well enough to return to work in 2001, he launched a promotional and marketing business called PromoCorp. His partner had nearly bankrupted the apparel company during Larry’s illness, so Larry took what he could in lessons learned and signed the rest away. He applied the newfound wisdom to PromoCorp, growing it to $5 million in revenue with 40 percent gross profit over an eight-year period. When the market began to tank in 2008, he sought exit opportunities and was able to sell the company for a reasonable price. After staying on for a year, Larry entered a three-year noncompete agreement that freed up his time to partner with a group of colleagues to open seven Greene Turtle Restaurant franchise locations in Fairfax, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s, and Montgomery Counties. With the same partners, he developed a new nautical-themed restaurant in Annapolis called Blackwall Hitch, a higher-end establishment with another location slated to open in Old Town Alexandria. As well, Larry became a franchise investor in EmbroidMe, an embroidery services, imprinted apparel, and promotional products company.
As Larry began removing himself from the day-to-day operations of these various enterprises, he considered his next move. As a member of Vistage International, a coaching and peer support program for CEOs, he had met Michael Mosel, a bright and energetic young entrepreneur with a penchant for communicating vision and leading new ventures. Larry, less polished around the edges but with decades of direct experience in launching, running, and successfully exiting companies, was the yin to his yang. The two decided they would be a good team, combining their skills to create Velarity and serve clients across all sizes and sectors. “Business is business,” Larry says. “Balance sheets are balance sheets, and employees are employees. The basics are there, regardless of what industry a client may fall in. Whether we’re helping a personal training business or an urgent care franchise, Velarity is about the best practices of business that make any company more successful. From the importance of bookkeeping, to making sure your insurance is in order, to establishing a sales and marketing plan, to reevaluating your staff with a lens for business growth, our solutions are simple yet vital, and timeless yet cutting-edge.”
In advising young people entering the working world today, Larry underscores the importance of earning a college degree. Beyond that, he urges people to pursue things that bring them happiness. “The goal is to enjoy getting up and going to work every morning,” he says. “With that in mind, follow a career that motivates you. Do it for the fun, not for the money.” Indeed, Larry is driven by goal-making, whether he wants to travel to a 45th country to explore a new culture, or whether he wants to find the best new steak house for his self-launched 15-year-old Steak Club’s bimonthly gathering. Whether he’s helping his kids find and pursue their own goals, or showing them a different side of society by leading family volunteer efforts at local homeless shelters, Larry’s leadership—both at work and at home—is highly goal-oriented. “At a young age, I was often told that winning isn’t important,” he laughs. “But to an extent, it absolutely is important. Either you attain your goals, or you don’t. So set your sights on winning, whether it’s on the athletic field, in the office, or just on your own to-do list.”
Now, however, Larry’s definition of “winning” has evolved with experience and wisdom. While a singular focus on success in sports gave way to an impassioned drive for success in business, his interest has since begun to shift to a much deeper concept of success. “To me, when I see an issue, my mind immediately begins to draw on my thirty years of experience to outline the possible solutions,” he says. “It’s almost a feeling of compassion—the sense that I understand what a business executive is going through and how we can help them.” The words conjure up an image emblazoned in Larry’s memory of a time when his grandfather had fallen ill for several years. During that period, Larry was a mainstay at the old man’s house, committed to seeing him through to health again.
When Larry would sleep in his grandfather’s bedroom, he would always wake up to the same quote hanging on the wall, which read, “Who can you help today?” In the spirit of this mentor, now deceased, who taught him to shape his life around these fundamental questions of humanity and purpose, Velarity is the helping hand Larry extends to anyone who can’t afford to wait for hindsight to offer 20/20 vision.