Mr Richardson admitted there was once a time he made just $20 to feed himself for a week.
But fast forward to life in 2019 and things look very different for the 30-year-old Sydney-based entrepreneur.
Just like most successful businesses, Mr Richardson’s now multimillion-dollar venture began with identifying and fixing a problem, in turn transforming this former navy serviceman into a very successful entrepreneur.
One can say he always had it in him, having started his very first lawn mowing business at just 16 years old.
A determined Mr Richardson went on to become the founder of AUSFIT Torsion Bars — a solid, weighted piece of steel.
It was during his short-stint in the army in 2012 where his genius military-inspired idea was born. Prior to that he had served in the navy for 11 years.
“I left the navy for a short period to join the Australian Special Forces Unit and that’s where I first got my hands on the bars. It was during a personal training session.,” Mr Richardson told news.com.au
“A that time it was just a solid piece of (weighted) rod made from M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier, cut in half. It was used during training sessions.
“It’s like a barbell without having to put weights on.”
“But there was no regard for the care and quality of the product,” he said.
Despite having trained for 18 months Special Forces, the Wagga local decided it wasn’t for him and before returning back to the navy, took a 12 month hiatus.
That’s when Ausfit Outdoors was born which then led to his now multimillion-dollar AUSFIT Torsion Bars business.
As Mr Richardson couldn’t get his hands on any old M113 Torsion Bars, he went on to design his own in 2013. In 2015, AUSFIT Torsion Bars launched and saw rapid success.
Between 2017 and 2018 his earnings went from $400,000 to an estimated $7 million in global sales.
“When I was training clients I was using these old pump bars which was a thin black bar with plastic weights that go on either side — and because most classes were outdoors, they would rust or wouldn’t fit in my car,” Mr Richardson said.
He revisited his idea of perhaps, one day, doing a better version of the steel bars he once trained with in the army — selling it to gyms, trainers and hopefully, naval bases.
“I spent about 18 months exploring the idea and started to realise there was nothing like it around. I was massively shocked. I thought someone would have definitely done it by now.”
The 30-year-old developed his version of the rod based on his experience in the army.
“The basic design of the product didn’t change much we just made it more robust.
“Essentially, it’s a solid steel bar with a polymer coating which makes it more weatherproof and is fitted with anti-roll end caps on either side so they won’t roll around — which is what tended to happen on vessels when used in the army.”
ANTHONY MAKES HIS MILLIONS
About six months after manufacturing them, Mr Richardson then sold his first batch of rods, which range from 4 kilos to 20 kilos and measure less than one metre, to the Australian Defence Force and within the first 12 months fitted out all the naval vessels and defence establishments across the country.
Before buying the torsion bars, trials were conducted on small and larger vessels, and after surviving the weather and salty-sea waters (through South-East Asia and to the Middle East) Mr Richardson had his first set of happy customers.
“They told me it solved all their problems.”
Next stop — the Pentagon.
Mr Richardson said he was the first Aussie to conduct a fitness class for their military base. After showing a group of about 30 men how to use the bar, they were convinced — and the Pentagon nabbed a bunch straight away.
Not long after that, he sold it to the Norfolk Navy base which is the world’s largest naval base with more than 100,000 active personnel.
“It’s been a crazy journey — especially the Pentagon. I was like a kid in a candy store,” Mr Richardson said.
“Having been in the military my whole life and to be invited to run a workout which no Aussie has done, I was absolutely chuffed. Even if they didn’t buy the product I would still be excited and humbled.”
Mr Richardson said generally the product is a winner because of its timesaving efficiency in having to load weights, weatherproof material and overall cost-saving benefits.
“It can be used by anyone from 18 year old kids joining the military who know they have to get comfortable training with the bar to those who prefer doing workouts at home — essentially it saves money from having to buy spare weights.”
Mr Richardson, who left the navy in October 2017 to focus on his rapidly growing business, said the torsion bars are mainly used to challenge balance, core stability and movement.
The bars are now available in five countries. China was forced to build a factory to keep up with the demand of sales.
The bars range from $49 to $165 each.
FROM $20 TO $7 MILLION
The 30-year-old started his first business Mobile Mower Servicing at 16, cruising around on his push bike with a bag of tools fixing lawnmowers and mowing for an extra fee.
“Now 12 years later I have had many businesses, and even more ideas. Some were successful, but more were not,” he posted on his Instagram page, revealing he had his first business class experience in January 2017.
“There have been down times where I have made $20 (to) feed me for a week and I searched the house for the coins I know I have stashed somewhere, but also many more ups,” Mr Richardson said.