The Lucas Mageno Journey From Southern California Rock Bands to Furniture Sales to Litigation Services
As the founder of iDiscover and Capital Digital Document Solutions, Lucas Mageno has had a long term and visible impact on shaping the litigation technology and services industry in the United States. However, you may be surprised to learn that his journey to reach the top of his industry rivals that of many unsuspecting heroes from famous literature.
Following is the tale of Lucas Mageno’s journey. It will be divided into 3 articles. The first article will cover his journey from starting a car washing business at the age of 8 in Southern California to managing a rock band called Badger to running a furniture business to finally starting his career in the litigation services and technology industry.
Growing up in Southern California, Lucas had always been a free spirit with a sense of wanting to do something special with his life. He started his first venture at the age of 8. He convinced a gas station owner on the Pearblossom highway in Hesperia, California to let him wash cars as they waited in line to buy gas during the 1987 gas shortage. “I vividly remember seeing the same customers wait 20 cars deep, worried, frustrated and scared the gas would run out before they could fill up,” remembered Lucas. The car wash continued to grow and just as unsuspecting heroes from famous literature learn many valuable life lessons on their journeys, this first venture as an entrepreneur taught Lucas that a simple idea combined with hard work and perseverance could pay off.
After skipping several grades in high school, Lucas left home at 16 and headed off to Utah to snowboard for three months. After running out money, he returned to Southern California where he found work as a custom staircase apprentice, cleaned floors and pumped gas on the weekends.
Lucas attended college for six weeks. “My true love was travel and adventure and college just got in the way,” stated Lucas. In the summer of 1987, Lucas had saved up enough money to travel around the country in his 1970 Chevelle and attend over 20 concerts including the Grateful Dead to Black Sabbath.
The Band Years
His first real venture as an adult came about as the result of fixing a flat tire for group of young hard rock musicians from Wisconsin. “Given my passion for music, I knew good music when I heard it and these kids could play and sing,” stated Lucas. Lucas quit all 3 jobs to form Bagagaboo Productions Inc. and market his new rock band called Badger. The group didn’t have any money and started a landscaping business in Southern California to fund Fierce Rock ‘n Roll, the group’s first album, an MTV music video and a decent tour bus. The Badgers quickly became the hottest independent rock band in Southern California.
To take the band to the next level, Lucas formed a partnership with Quincy Jones and established relationships in Russia, China, Switzerland, Israel and the Netherlands. A well known producer was brought in at one point to help with structuring an opening band gig with Sammy Hagar. The producer tried to squeeze Lucas out of the deal, but the members of Badger stood by him and turned the producer away.
Just like unintended heroes from famous literature learn some unexpected lessons along the way, Lucas concedes that the Bagagaboo Productions experience taught him some very valuable lessons that continue with him today. “It taught me that hard work and results dismissed concerns with my age and experience and that I could do anything I set my mind to,” said Lucas. “However, the most important lesson that I learned was that you need to be very careful who work with and trust and that true partners are the key to real success,” continued Lucas. He was lucky that he had real partners with Badger because his next true partner didn’t come along for another 10 years.
Time to Learn the Litigation Services Business
Lucas landed his first job in the litigation services industry as a customer service representative for Kirk Carter at Century Reprographics. Lucas was Kirk’s first employee and learned the litigation services business from the ground up cold calling law firms and corporations and physically moving boxes of paper and copiers around. Unfortunately, Kirk’s desire to share in the profits from Century Reprographics was less than what Lucas expected and therefore he left after one year to start his own litigation services operation called Fastway Legal.
Lucas sold Fastway Legal after 10 months to Whitmont Legal Copying, (Whitmont sold to iVize and is now part of Modus) for $140K in cash plus an employment agreement with Whitmont. “At 23 years old, I thought that I had won the lottery,” stated a smiling Lucas. Working for Tony Ramsey, one of the Whitmont owners, Lucas was responsible for business development. Within 6 months he was booking $150K per month and was the leading sales person in the Los Angles market.
Given his sense of adventure, he wanted to run his own offices. Unfortunately, he was still under a non-compete. He approached the owners of Whitmont with an offer of $140K to open offices in Northern California. The Whitmont owners told Lucas to keep his money and offered to fund the opening of three new offices with a 20% ownership share to Lucas. Within two weeks, Lucas sold his house in Venice Beach and packed his pregnant wife and son into a U-Haul and headed to Sacramento, California on his next great adventure.
A Quick Detour into the Furniture Business
Just like some of the heroes from famous literature, Lucas had a few unexpected detours into uncharted territory during his journey. While working for Whitmont, Lucas got bored. After all, selling litigation services is just not on the same level of excitement as managing a rock band. He opened a small retail furniture store selling Mexican Style furniture and local artisan metal works at the corner of Washington and Lincoln in Venice Beach. “It filled the artistic void I was missing in the litigation services business,” stated Lucas. He studied the international trade process and after three months decided to cut out his Los Angeles middle man and learn how to ship containers directly from Mexico.
He traveled to Puebla, Mexico and spent two days with the owner of DelSol Furniture. He watched the entire process, handpicked all the pieces and calculated space packed versus return on the selected pieces. This new venture cost him $24k including freight. When it arrived in Los Angeles, there was much more furniture that he had envisioned and therefore he could only hold about 1/3 of the container. “It was a sunny Los Angeles Friday and therefore after filling up my store with furniture from the new shipment, I unloaded the rest of the furniture into the parking lot and on the sidewalk,” remembers Lucas. “I had a red flag made that said Puebla Furniture – New Design – Volume Pricing and I sold 80% of the entire container in three days,” muses Lucas.
Removing the Los Angeles middle man allowed Lucas to double his profit per piece and he began to ship a container from Mexico once per month every month thereafter. One day a Middle Eastern man named Ahyman from Riyhad Saudi Arabia walked in and bought every item in the store. Ahyman and Lucas became friends and eventually business partners. Lucas took on responsibility for buying furniture and other items for Ahyman’s 20,000 sq ft showroom in Riyahd. They traveled together to Jakarta, Puebla, Indonesia and Peru to purchase items for Ahyman’s store.
Lucas sold his furniture venture when he left Whitmont, but the relationships he formed have lasted a lifetime. “He always paid for my wife, Janet, to come along on the buying trips and I still have a relationship with him and his family,” stated Lucas. “He once told me that I literally saved his life because he had done something to disgrace his family in Riyhad, but because of the success of his stores, all was forgiven,” continued Lucas.
In the next phase of Lucas Mageno’s journey, we will learn about his adventures starting Capital Digital Document Solutions and iDiscover.
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