I’m Rusty Stevens. I’m an entrepreneur, musician, and philanthropist originally from Fayetteville, NC. After graduating high school at Western Harnett High, I attended Appalachian State University for eight years. That’s right-- eight years for a four year undergraduate degree in Communications. I call those four-year folks quitters. Hell, I was just getting warmed up going into my fifth!
I began wanting to be a business major, but that was until I took Econ and Accounting. I won an accounting award in high school, but they seemed to have made it a bit more complicated than it needed to be at the higher level. After all, there are only four things you can do with money; you either have money, don't have money, are owed money, or owe money. The rest are simply subcategories of each.
After spending over two weeks on the supply and demand curve, I got tired. So if you have a lot of something and no one wants it, the curve is here. And if you don't have a lot of something and everyone wants it, then the curve is there. I didn't feel I needed to know more than that.
At the end of the day, I felt like I could just eventually learn the business shit later. However, the Communications curriculum had things like small group communications, public speaking, theory and practice of persuasion that would teach me more about how to deal with people. These classes taught me to be able to sit in a board room across from anyone with the confidence to believe I belonged there. I'm also able to command a room if need be.
While at Appalachian State, I began learning how to play guitar. I had a knack for the instrument as well as a good enough voice to sing. I wrote a few songs, formed a band, and before I knew it, we were opening up for acts such as Dave Matthew's Band, Hootie and the Blowfish, Edwin McCain and The Aquarium Rescue Unit. We toured and played in multiple states in the South East.
I'm not the best musician, but if you surround yourself with great musicians and you can write a good melody over some catchy chord progressions, you can fake being pretty good. I found a home as a front man and thrived being onstage. Probably my biggest asset was being able to grab and entertain a crowd.
During this time, I stayed in management positions wherever I worked. We were an original band and broke as hell, so I had to keep a job most of the time to be able to eat and pay the bills. Management in the restaurant industry allowed me to have a flexible schedule, eat for free, and make enough to pay my bills.
In 2002, after working in the surveillance industry, I decided to open up a security and audio/video company. I was always told I could sell because of my personality, though I prefer to build relationships, and my management experience would show to be instrumental in my success. While building Advanced Tech Systems and Automation, I took over the company I was working for, at at that time, and named it RMS Solutions. Now, it has been re-branded to an online marketing company, RMS Tech Spa, which is run by my wife.
I have served two terms on the board of the nonprofit networking group, Business Leaders of Charlotte, that has raised over 500K since its inception for local charities. I have been instrumental in helping a pet rescue with their compliance under a 501c3 as well as raising money. Now, I am currently working on my own foundation, in the hopes of being able to give scholarships to people entering the trade industry. After all, when communities help your businesses survive, I believe it is your duty to give back in some way.
Now I’m married with two daughters, a cat, and a dog. Though this is as american vanilla as it gets on the surface, there is absolutely NOTHING vanilla about our cooky ass family. My hobbies include music, being on the water, travelling, riding motorcycles, and overall bullshitting with people.