Alumnus’ Entrepreneurial Journey Filled with Passion, Purpose

By Melissa Graham  |  November 9, 2020

For years, Tim Reazor MBA’18, MS’19 dreamed of a way to start his own business. A former Marine Corps officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Reazor transitioned into civilian life in 2008 by becoming an investment strategist. Although he was successful, he knew entrepreneurship was his true calling.

“I knew there was something bigger out there for me,” Reazor said. “I genuinely love what I do for a living, but I felt like I wasn’t reaching my full potential. I wanted to go back to school to figure out what I didn’t know so that I could launch my business.”

A close friend of Reazor’s had been through the Executive MBA program at UT Dallas’ Naveen Jindal School of Management and recommended it to him. After Reazor enrolled and completed his MBA, he continued his education with a master’s in innovation in entrepreneurship. 

“It was life-changing,” Reazor said. “I went to UT Dallas specifically for the entrepreneurship classes I knew would be offered to me.”

As a student, he was able to develop his idea for a business of creating high-quality cutting boards out of premium wood.

“I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to do it,” Reazor said. “Figuring out the how was a journey in itself. I went back to school to network and learn what other  people knew, and it was the best thing ever because the result was the impetus that built my business.”

But Reazor’s journey as an entrepreneur was just beginning, and his first lesson was a hard one. On April 19, 2019, Reazor, along with his wife Tanya, launched Fifth & Cherry, a company that manufactures and sells premium cutting boards. And nothing happened.

“A week went by, and we didn’t have one sale,” Reazor said. “Nobody bought a board. Not one person.”

Weeks, then months went by without an online order.

“I said, ‘I need to figure this out. What am I doing wrong?’” Reazor said.

Then, it dawned on him. He needed to get the cutting boards, which are handcrafted from American Black Cherry fruit trees, out in front of people. Customers needed to touch and feel the product, to see the value in person. So Reazor rented a booth at a tradeshow at the Dallas Market Center, where he was able to personally showcase the boards.

“It’s not a revolution, it’s an evolution,” Reazor said. “I didn’t know how to sell my product; I didn’t know how to convey my thoughts and feelings. But with that first tradeshow, I started to figure it out.”

An 18-inch cutting board from Fifth and Cherry.

Fifth & Cherry’s cutting boards are hand-clamped and glued, a practice not commonly used by other manufacturers. A variety of block lengths are staggered to increase durability, so the boards can be refinished and reused for generations. The company makes boards in three sizes — 14, 18 and 36 inches — and offers lifetime warranty, free shipping and free finishing to each and every customer. The company also offers custom sizes. 

“You won’t ever have to buy another one,” Reazor said. 

Funded completely by his personal trading, Reazor hopes to grow Fifth & Cherry to a point that he can expand the business. But his overarching goal is to continue to make products that enhance the memories customers make while using them.

“Every day, every night, every minute, I walk around asking, ‘How do I impress upon people the importance of buying something that will last forever?’” Reazor said. “My goal is to live up to the consumer’s expectations of a ‘forever’ product.”

With the tools he received from UT Dallas, Reazor is now able to call himself an entrepreneur whose business is built on passion and purpose.

“Every day that I’m able to operate this business is a gift,” Reazor said.

Relevance: Alumni, Community