PODCAST EP 87
How to Produce a Better Online Experience for Customers with Ryan Brown
Simon chats to Ryan Brown, Head of Brand Strategy at Ceros.Listen Now
Simon Dell: I’m joined on the show today by Sam Hardy, who is the managing director of Peak Marketing who are based here in Brisbane and they are a product development company. We’re going to find out all the sorts of bits and pieces that they do. So, welcome to the show, Sam.
Sam Hardy: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me.
Simon Dell: Now, first question, we ask this of everybody who comes on the show, but just to kind of understand who you are and where you came from: What was the first job that you ever did that you actually got paid for?
Sam Hardy: The first job I ever did was actually with the old company that I’m running now. I was painting the warehouse floors when I was 12 years old because I wanted a new drum kit.
Simon Dell: Okay, so you painted the floors. No toxic chemicals at 12 years old, I take it?
Sam Hardy: No, but it was paint and it was the summer holiday. So, because Dad didn’t want dust blowing over the floors, I had to paint it with the roller doors down and in one of the back warehouses in the shed. So, it was pretty hot. I didn’t feel well by the end of the day, but I did get my, after three days, I got a new drum kit so it seemed worthwhile.
Simon Dell: I was going to say, we should all be having a word with your father about child labor and things like that.
Sam Hardy: Yeah, he’s also — Like, he used to trick us like, even when we probably were a little bit younger than that, he’d say, “I’ll pay you this much in the hour” or “I’ll give you 5 cents to stuff envelopes” or something, the checks that he used to send out. And we used to go, “I’ll take… $20 an hour? That’s unbelievable.” Turns out it only took us about 2 hours to do the work.
Simon Dell:Right, you’d have been better off taking the 5 cents.
Sam Hardy: Hell yeah we would’ve been. We would’ve made about $60 an hour. So, now I usually try and work things out a bit quicker.
Simon Dell: And so, what was the drum kit? Was it like a brand that everyone… I don’t actually know many brands of drum kits.
Sam Hardy: It was a Pearl Export drum kit, so it was like an entry-level kind of… And I’ve actually still got it. I’ve got it in the warehouse on a pallet wrapped up. I’d never sell it because I quite like the significance of it to me.
Simon Dell: Yeah. Do you still play the drums?
Sam Hardy: Yeah, I’ve got an electric drum kit in my office, and in one of the rooms downstairs I’ve got a drum kit set up as well.
Simon Dell: Do you do any sort of gigging or anything like that?
Sam Hardy: I actually just do it to relax. I find you can really tune… Well, funnily enough, I actually find I can really tune out with it mentally and just sit down and bang away.
Simon Dell: I played the guitar for years in bands and things like that, but I kind of gave up after I realized that I didn’t really enjoying the practicing side of things. I didn’t kind of get that calmness from playing guitar, anything that I think a lot of people get from playing a musical instrument.
Sam Hardy: Yeah. My wife gets it from running. She runs and every step I take running is the most painful thing I ever do and I hate it, so yeah. I guess everyone gets it differently.
Simon Dell: So, the business that you’ve got at the moment was a second-generation family business, yeah?
Sam Hardy: It is. It’s got kind of a little bit of an intermission in between. So, we had a previous business. We had an office in North America, in Toronto and Seattle, and we kind of moved around with it with Dad as he was growing it before we came back to go to boarding school. And I worked in there… He came back to Australia with mum and it was a substantially larger business than what we’re operating at the moment. I worked in the warehouses doing orders, picking orders and everything as a kid, which actually is really good now. Because when people complain about their work, I tend to have done it. And then in about 2007, it was purchased by a bigger company, and then 2010, that company leveraged pretty heavily into US retail. So, they actually went tits up, and I was a currency trader at the time because, funnily enough, Dad actually fired me, that I finished university and told me to get a job in the real world. So, I got a job in an investment bank which is probably the least real world thing you could do, and he called me up and he said, “Look, you’ve probably got an opportunity, that if you want to pick up some of the old clients that you know, I can give you a year or two and then you can go on your merry way from there.” So, I was living in North America at the time. It was like -30° and I was like, “Yeah, get me out of here.”
Simon Dell: Aside from the weather, what made you chuck in the whole currency trading thing?
Sam Hardy: I don’t know. There’s a lot of freedom that you get with running your own race, but there’s a lot of constraints as well. It’s quite an oxymoron because you are really constrained to the business but you do get a lot of freedom around it. And you know, working with Dad was always a big draw, especially in a more professional capacity. So yeah, it seemed like a good opportunity and I kind of left on a really good note with the bank I was with. So, there was always a window with our CEO who I still talk to. I was talking to him probably a couple months ago when I had a problem here. There was always the opportunity that I could go back if it didn’t work. So, didn’t have kids, didn’t have a mortgage, that’s when you try everything.
Simon Dell: When your father sold the business and then three years later presumably bought it back for, I’m going to presume he bought it back for less than he originally sold it for.
Sam Hardy: Yeah, pennies on the dollar.
Simon Dell: Yeah, so he’s kind of got the best of both worlds there for that.
Sam Hardy: Yeah, we’re pretty fortunate.
Simon Dell: What was he doing in that time? Was he going, “Well, I’m out of this now” or was he still working in the business? Was that part of the deal when he sold it?
Sam Hardy: No, so he was probably, this would be a three-year gap that he wasn’t working. He stayed on for about 12 months as part of the deal and then he went, I don’t know, surfing on boats.
Simon Dell: Spending the money.
Sam Hardy: Yeah, basically.
Simon Dell: As we would all do in those circumstances.
Sam Hardy: Yeah, so he was enjoying himself. See, the thing was, we’ve got customers that used to come over to our house for dinner when I was 7 years old or 8 years old. So, a lot of them called him up and said “well you got is into this mess with these idiots, you go get us out of it”. And he’s like, “Alright, well I’ll talk to Sam and see how we go.” So, that was part of the — He said, “Look, I can put you with other people or we can kind of…”
Simon Dell: Start again.
Sam Hardy: Yeah, “I’ll get Sam back and we’ll go again.” And they said, “Alright, well, provided that you’re involved and it’s not like up for sale, that you’re not just going to flick it in 12 months’ time, once you get us all back, they’re happy to continue with us.” So, that worked well.
Simon Dell: Yeah. When you started again, I mean, obviously, you had a little bit of a luxury, the fact that you had a base of clients already. And I guess that kind of helps in terms of things like cash flow and all these bits and pieces. What else did you do when you restarted the business? Was there anything that you went, “Day one, I need people to know about this.” What steps did you take there?
Sam Hardy:Day one was updating our platform for that, because we run corporate online stores for this one channel of our business. So, it was making sure that we weren’t… The old business, when I was in the transition period of going down, there was a lot of things that they could’ve been doing better. And you know, one of the things that I saw was that we really needed to update our online platform. So, people became accustomed to shopping on ASOS or shopping on Net-a-Porter, or shopping on StrawberryNET. And there was no point in comparing what we were doing to the rest of our industry because we’re always going to be comparing ourselves to competitors. Like, let’s look at what is being done on a retail platform and what people are actually used to doing, and let’s strive to get the business to that point.
So, updating that online platform was a big thing that we needed to do. And then looking, you know, starting to invest into the creative side of the business – getting a few more designers on board, keep everything fresh and exciting. Because you know, in our industry, there’s only so many pats you can give away, or you know, 50,000 pants, like they all just blend into each other after a while. So, we needed to have the creative focus that…The creative stuff is what kind of gets you in the door with our clients, but the support, and the logistics, and the warehousing, and the operations side is typically what keeps you there.
Simon Dell: Sorry, just taking a step back there, I just want to kind of understand. You talk about updating the online platform. How do you, just for the people who don’t understand this space, how do you work with clients? Are you delivering them the full e-commerce solution as well at the end?
Sam Hardy:That’s exactly right. So, we will run company’s online merchandise stores. So, we not only run it, we fund it. So, we’ve got some of our customers that we actually only use part of the contract. The contract that we’ve got, we own it, we build them as they send it out.
Simon Dell: Give me an example of, not necessarily name a customer, but a segment or an industry where you would be doing that.
Sam Hardy: So you know, earthmoving equipment as an example and big, big mining equipment. So, when they sell a machine, there’s X amount built in for merchandise, then they’ll place the order online. And you know, with one customer, we’ve got about probably 10 or so jacket lines, a few different T-shirts, models, all that stuff, and all that collateral so that when they sell one of these machines, they’re about to deliver it, they log in, they’ll place 15 of those, 20 of that, 40 of those, and then we’ll pick it, pack it, and ship it out the door because it’s already sitting in our warehouse, ready to go. And then we’ve got the other side of the business which is made to order, where we’ll be doing 500 — one of boys was up in China two weeks ago looking at pinball machines for an alcohol company. That’ll come into our warehouse, we’ll QC it here, although we would’ve QC it with our China office.
Simon Dell: And by QC, you mean quality control?
Sam Hardy: Yes. So, we’ve got, I think we’re up to like 15 people in our Ningbo office now, predominantly about 10 of them are purely quality control people. I think they’re on the road all the time just inspecting everything.
Simon Dell: Give me a sort of scale of the smallest items that you would be doing this for, up to, say, the largest items. I mean, you’ve said things like T-shirts and stuff like that. Is that kind of as small as you go?
Sam Hardy: No. I think we just did some lapel pins for a real estate company. But one off, we would kind of shy away from that, but we’ve got the niche, we’ve got a straight and easy contract to supply everything. So, we look at it as a totality thing, not just the single order.
Simon Dell: And up to what sort of size? Obviously, you mentioned the big digger companies and things like that, but how big it would be your biggest client?
Sam Hardy: Probably market cap is $17-18 billion dollars?
Simon Dell: Okay. That’s small.
Sam Hardy: So yeah, we deal with airlines, earthmoving equipment. Yeah, I think one of the US companies is probably about a $20 billion dollar company. So yeah, we’ve got a wide variety.
Simon Dell: Talk to me about the pinball machines and alcohol because they’re two things I’m big fans of. Is the alcohol company coming to you with the idea of saying, “We want a pinball machine” or are they sitting down with you and they’re working through those ideas with you?
Sam Hardy: Typically, we’ll do planning sessions throughout the year and we do them — With all of our key, major clients, we do quarterly business reviews, and a big component of that is, apart from reviewing our performance as a company with the service we offer, a big component of those is planning for what’s coming up, three months, five months, six months, 24 months down the line. Because a lot of our things do take a lot of time to come to fruition, and it’s not just getting it to pre-production stage, it’s everything before that, like the tooling and everything.
So, we’ll sit down there and they may say, “Look, in summer 2020, we want to be doing a big gift for our anniversary of this brand. We’ve got $5,000 to spend per item and we want to do 500 items. Can you come back to us?” And yeah, we go away and we go, “Alright, jesus, what are we going to do?” And we start playing around with some ideas, and I think we put a few things forward, and we’ll kind of just finalize what we need to do to see if this pinball machine will be a starter for them.
Simon Dell:They’ve come to you with the idea. They’ve got $5,000. They want 500 of them. Where do you and the team start from a creative perspective? Is it things that you already know are out there that you can source?
Sam Hardy: It’s usually from… We don’t consider ourselves product movements as a business. We really do get to really, really understand what our customers want and what environment they want them in. So, whether we do the 12 months surveys with their customers just so we can see what markets they’re into, what kind of gets them excited. So, we really try and understand the target market, the position, and where they want these things to end up.
A good example of it is, whoever came up with the Commonwealth Bank dollar line concept in the 80’s was a genius because most of us still use a CBA today because you’re given a money tin in grade 1, and now everything is with CBA because she just didn’t want to move. And she got hooked on it that way. So, it’s about understanding what the objective of the promotion is. So, once we understand that, then we start working ideas up from there and we’ll do, sit back here, sit in the office on a Thursday night, crack open a few beers or a few wines, get some takeaway, and just talking the ideas through. For one business, we ended up doing swags, a bunch of swags for them, camping eskies, camping esky fridges and then someone just said, “Hey, you should do a racing simulator as well for the man cave.” And these guys, they’re a tooling company and these guys’ business is, they do a lot of motorsport sponsorship and we’re like, “Oh yeah, we’ll throw that in.” And they went three of them. So, you never know what is going to get the client excited so we pitch everything, we just render it up and go from there.
Simon Dell: I mean, obviously, in those circumstances, you probably get a lot of nos as much as you get some yeses.
Sam Hardy: Yeah.
Simon Dell: How do you persuade the client that you’re right and they’re wrong? Do you kind of find that much?
Sam Hardy: We just recently had one that we submitted, that we got great feedback across the survey we did, and we tested it really, really well with even their branches. And they still didn’t really think that it was going to be the right product. And you know what? At the end of the day, we’ve got to respect that. Essentially, we tried our best. We’ll present everything as to why we think it’s a good idea, but you know, at the end of the day, it’s their money. And if they choose to send it elsewhere, then we’ve just got to dust ourselves off and keep going.
Simon Dell: Do you get it the other way around? Were they telling you to sell something and create something where you sit there and think, “God, that’s a bit of a dog.”
Sam Hardy: Yes, sometimes, we do. We’ve had a big airline once that wanted to do some mass promotion for their corporate clients for umbrellas. They had a budget of like $10 an umbrella. No, even less than that, it was $7.50 an umbrella. And I just kept saying to them, “These are going to be crap. You’re not getting a good product at $7.50” or whatever it was.
And I said, “And the worst part about it is, it’s not like it’s a T-shirt or something like that, it’s an umbrella. People are only pulling them out when it’s bloody raining, so your brain is going to be associating, “This is a cheap piece of shit and I’m wet. And if they’re cutting costs on an umbrella, what else are they cutting costs on their planes?”.
I was like, “I really, really don’t think that we should do it.” And I said, “We typically provide some sort of guarantee on a product and stand behind it.” But we just said, “We can deliver it, but we’re not going to be responsible for these things breaking, because they will break, and I promise.” And you know, a young marketing person still wanted to go ahead with it.
And then the CMO called me up and he said, “We’re getting all these umbrellas broken.” And I just went, “Yeah, I’m going to send you an email, okay?” I said, “Wait while I’m on the phone to you.” And then he said, “Leave it with me.” And I was like, “Alright.” So yes, sometimes, we try and advise to steer our clients away from things, and 99.99% of the time they listen but there’s always the one time when people…
And that’s typically why we position ourselves as a business within their business so they can listen to us. We don’t have a lot of customers or clients where we’re treated as the supplier. You know, it’ll be like, oh, if you don’t think that’s right, we’ll be like, “No, we really don’t think it is.” And they’ll be like, “Okay, we’ll listen to the voice and reason.”
Simon Dell: I can imagine. I mean, I guess all people who work in any type of agencies and creative agencies get that issue all the time. There’s only so many times you can tell a client… Any time that you thought something wasn’t going to work and it did work?
Sam Hardy: Yeah, there has been. It was probably the biggest thing that we ever did, was that I thought this was a crazy idea. And one of the creatives here said, “No, a swags awesome.” And I was like, “I’ve never been in a position before in my life where I’ve thought, ‘What’s going to get me out of this pickle? A swag?”
And we did it for a tool company, and we, I think all the — they were all gone within about 72 hours. There’s about 600 of them. They just flew out of their stores and they really, really drove some sales because they packed a whole heap of margin into the products that you had to buy, get it. And you know, it was probably about $2,000 worth of stuff. And they went really, really well and I was really surprised by that, because I — I don’t know.
But then again, I wasn’t their target market. So like, an idea of camping is staying at a motel in the side of a highway type thing. So, I’m not a camper — I’m not their market, but you know, we’re here to come up with the ideas and it went really well, so that was good.
Simon Dell: Is this this sort of thing that if somebody’s sitting there listening to this, going, “I’ve got a great idea for a product and I want to create a business out of it”, are you the sort of people that people can come to and say, “Help me with this” or are you more dealing with the corporate end of it.
Sam Hardy: We more deal with the corporate end of it. We typically don’t do product development from the ground up for someone else to sell on. Everything we do has a brand association to it.
Simon Dell: What are your suggestions in that sort of space? I mean, presumably, you’ve had a few people knocking on your door that have asked those kind of things, but you guys would know obviously with people in China that the challenges of dealing with manufacturing there… Tell me what some of those challenges are and what sort of advice would you give people who do want to go out there and source something off Alibaba or something?
Sam Hardy: It’s just to be really, really careful and do your homework. A perfect example is, we had a company once that wanted over 80,000 USBs, and I think she’s like, “Oh, I can get them on Alibaba for $4.” And we’re like, “Well, we’re $4.65. We’re not going any lower. We cannot go any lower. That’s a really good price that you’ll get them for.”
And she was, again, a pretty junior person, submitted to a boss. Got a pre-production sample from the factory, didn’t plug it into her computer, and it actually didn’t have any memory on it. So, she got 80,000 products into Australia without any memory in it, that were just the USB. There was no Flash in it. So, there is things like…
Simon Dell: Did she have to come back from you and buy it from you in the end?
Sam Hardy: Yeah, she did. Her boss who’s been a mate of dad’s for years called me up and he said, “Oh, look, she’s really upset. I need a solution. We’ll go through it later. You can tell me what happened but I just need a solution.” And he said, “Okay, so this isn’t going to cost us another $300,000.”
So they were like, “How much?”. I just said, “Mate, just print some fliers, it’ll be cheaper, to be honest.” I said, “Just go to a print shop.” And he did, they just went and got – and well, it didn’t have the effect they wanted, but you know, knocking another $300,000k out of the budget is gonna take a hit on any business.
So, dealing with China is really difficult and it is not even just a language thing, it is a timing thing. Everything takes a lot longer than what you would expect. They avoid taking any form of responsibility, and if something does go wrong, where an Australian or a Wester person says “Alright, let’s just fix it and move on.” They will sit down and piss up four or five days trying to just cover their ass.
I’ve got a friend who has developed this fantastic product for kitchen tops, kitchen bench tops, and he’s having great feedback and someone’s just signed an exclusive deal with him, and even he’s like, “Oh man, can I borrow a girl from one of your offices? I just need her to go and check something for me.” I’m just like, “Yeah, just throw her on a plane.” But it’s a real difficult place if you’re not up there.
Now, we’ve had factories that we’ve been dealing with for years and years and years that supply one of the major kind of retailers in Australia that we look after, and we’ve been dealing with them for ages. And Dad’s principle in China is always like, “You see the Americans there and they’re pretty good. You see the kind of eastern Europeans and they’ll just be trying to get the best price possible.” Like, they’ll be beating them over their head to get the price down.
And Hong, who runs at our China office will be in trying negotiations with the factory. She’s trying to get a better price and Dad’s always going, “Hong, it’s all good. We’re making money. We need them to make money. We don’t want to be doing this negotiation every single year while having to second guess them. If they’re making a buck or two extra, then what? If we cost us an inch $1-1.50 on 150,000 shirts, it’s not a big deal because we’re still making money. The whole supplier journey needs to do well and that’s quite a unique way to approach them.
So, that would be my suggestion, it’s they really — they love saving face and they love making sure that really, really respectful will go a long way with them. But it is a tricky place to do business. It’s not straightforward and a lot… We’ve seen a lot of… Because we’re involved with it, we’ve seen a lot of people taking a pretty big haircut in some products because they’ve gone, “Oh, I’ll just do it myself.”
Like, we expect every factory before we put an order on them because just to make sure we’ve got the peace of mind, that they’re actually real, they’re not just a little unit in Alibaba, on an Alibaba side working out of a one-bedroom apartment in Shanghai. Because you can’t go –There’s no legislation to protect yourself. If something goes wrong, there’s one or two billion people who disappear, fade in the background and that’s it, you’re done.
Simon Dell: What do you think in terms of… Obviously, I sense there’s starting to be a shift in terms of China’s ability to produce things still as cheaply as potentially other countries can or maybe the Western world can start to produce.
Sam Hardy: Absolutely.
Simon Dell: Do you think that power is waning a little?
Sam Hardy: I don’t know if it’s softening but there’s a definitely a price. There’s a lot of upward pressure on price at the moment. With so much tech coming out of China, people don’t want to make cheap, low-end products when they can try and get a job at a place that’s making Sento TVs as an example.
We have a T-shirt factory we used to use, and after Chinese New Year, 50% of their workforce didn’t go back to work because they could make more money putting phones together for HTC. So, what we’re seeing is the lower-end items, T-shirts, pens, and the kind of cheap knick knacks that you just give away, a lot of that is moving into Southeast Asian countries. We’re doing a lot of apparel out of Vietnam now.
We steer clear of Bangladesh and India. There’s a lot of human rights problems there that our brands won’t touch and therefore we won’t touch. But there’s a lot of good kind of textiles that are coming into Vietnam at the moment and I think that they’ll continue to shift down as you continue to get further price pressures in China, especially on the lower end stuff.
Simon Dell: Back to talking about your own business, how do you grow that? How do you find new clients? Are they coming to you or you actively got some strategies out there to reach out to new business?
Sam Hardy: Lucky enough, we get both. We do get a lot of referrals and a lot of people that we know from one marketing department to another. If they’re senior enough, we get dragged along because what we do is sort of unique.
Our warehousing distribution model is really, really handy and it’s all the way from large scale, every Woolies in the country getting something; all the way down to if your business does a lot of events, then as we typically pack everything up and get it up before it gets into shows, that people stuffing event bags at 2:00 in the morning the day of.
So, we do get a lot of referral, but then we’ve got a lot of… We do have a big push with new business and people that… That’s their job, to be out there pitching, and there’s KPIs around that. And all we do is we just go, “This is how much to do business over a year.” We break them down into little bite-sized pieces all the way down to the week. We figure you’ve got to do about 20 new business goals a week to get to that number.
Simon Dell: Are you heavily reliant on that outbound calls, knocking on doors, and cold emails, and that kind of thing?
Sam Hardy: Yeah. We typically don’t… I don’t really like cold emails. Typically, we’ll kind of target an industry and then we’ll start making calls from there. And then once we kind of get to the person we want to, if we get a meeting or if we have a nice conversation with them, we’ll send them, we’ll do what our business does, we’ll send them a nice little something that’ll probably have… We do encourage the guys, if they’ve got neat handwriting, to write a little note that just says, “If you’re around next Tuesday, we’d really like to catch up for a coffee.”
And we try and make it something that is going to be used – practical. We do a lot of — We’ve got a set of really nice double glass coffee cups and we put two of them in there. And so it’s like, “Hey, we’d love to catch up with a coffee.” So, it’s a bit symbolic, and then we go in, have a chat, ask a lot of questions about their business and what they’re doing now and try and come up with the solution for them.
Simon Dell: I guess that was going to be my next question, was your favorite, your most successful, best, favorite, however, you want to phrase it, corporate gift. Something that you are delighted to give or something that someone’s given to you that you’ve gone, “Yeah, right, that’s shit hot.”
Sam Hardy: Do you know what’s really funny? If it’s a novelty gift type thing, we — And I know it’s lame, but I’ve got this powerbank that I was given once, and it charges everything so quickly it’s like unlike… I’ve written my name on every side of it so that people don’t pitch it and it’s really, really useful. So, I like products that I’m going to use. If it’s not… And my house isn’t like at Aladdin’s cave or anything, but I hate clutter which is odd for the business I’m in, but I like things that I’m going to use or that I’m going to get used.
I don’t know who actually did, but one of our competitors did the Westpac helicopter that is in the — that’s a caricature and it’s a little coin, little piggy bank, classic piggy bank. And I think if you open a bump account with Westpac, they put $200 in it for you but you can’t touch it until you’re 16 or whatever.
And my son loves this thing, and he’s like 18 months old so you know, he’s amused by a butterfly, but yeah, he walks around with this thing everywhere. And I’m like, “Well, that’s really great.” That brand is on an 18-month-old and he’s playing with a product that’s their brand. So, I like the practical ones.
Some people, we’ve got one of the girls downstairs she’s got like every type of — She’s got a drawer of pens and they’re all really neatly laid out. She collects pens, that’s her thing but yeah, the best kind of gimmicky one I think I’ve ever seen would have been… And we’ve got one in the showroom, it’s a choco bicycle and that was just kind of neat which is pretty cool.
And we did motorized jet skis once which were pretty funny. We were racing around our warehouse with helmets on, which is quite cool. But yeah, there’s heaps of… I like the simple ones. And we actually did a knife last year for a Japanese customer, and it was apparently the sharpest knife in the world. I don’t know how they test that, but we did that and that was a really, really nice gift.
Simon Dell: Okay. Last three questions. Number one, some brands that you admire, things that you buy all the time or services that you always engage, things that you sort of aspire your company to follow from a brand perspective.
Sam Hardy: There’s a beef company up in North Queensland called Black Rock Beef Co. and they do four products and they do them brilliantly. They’re a family business. The beef comes from their father’s cow property, two young girls, and they’re packaging, they’re branding, it’s all really clean. It’s a great product as well and it’s really well-priced. I really like what they do.
The next one would be probably… Two weeks ago when I got an email, I would’ve said Tesla but now I change my mind…
Simon Dell: It’s a bit hard to talk positive about Tesla these days.
Sam Hardy:At the moment it is, yeah. A friend of mine is still…
Simon Dell: While Elon is still in charge, but you know.
Sam Hardy:Yeah, and a friend of mine is about to get a delivery for a Model 3 and he’s like, “I really don’t want it. I’ve got to get out of this.” The other one would be Patek Philippe, the watch company. I really, really like the way they position themselves as… It’s the one product you need for that brand.
And you don’t actually own it, you merely look after it for a second generation. The design is easy to use, it’s meticulously-made. I aspire to own one myself. That better be my holy grail watch. And then thirdly, funnily enough, it’s J.P. Morgan for the banking guys but more so for their CEO, Jamie Dimon. I think what they’ve done with the brand and what they’ve done with that business has been pretty remarkable and I think he’s probably one of the best CEOs on the planet.
Simon Dell: I’m just actually on the BlackRockBeef.com.au website.
Sam Hardy: Oh, they’re fantastic.
Simon Dell: Yeah. I was going to say it helps that the two girls involved are not exactly…
Sam Hardy: No, but the first… So, I live in Hawthorne in Brisbane, and there’s a place called the Hawthorne Garage. It’s like an IGA whatever thing, like a market thing, you pay through the nose on it. But the old boy was there one time doing tastings, because one of the daughters was sick so he flew down, he’s walking around there with his big, white hat on and he was a top bloke.
And I was like, “God, alright, you know, young…” It was probably about maybe two years ago that I had my first one, and it’s just been actually great through their Instagram and through talking to anybody who is back there once every six months of how well the business is doing. It’s really, really nice to see. And I think they take the headache out of cooking that type of product. But it’s also — the packaging is really, really nice. The product styling is beautiful. They’ve done a really, really good job.
Simon Dell: The website looks fantastic. They clearly have got that right. So you know, if the rest of it… And just even the product photos, the food photos look great. And I’ve seen some incredibly poor styling of food photos in the past, but…
Sam Hardy: Yeah. I interned once at a company called Landor when I was at university in their accounts department. Some of the efforts that they used to go to make crappy food photos look good for the different brands’ boxes in supermarkets. It was pretty astonishing.
Simon Dell:So, second to last question: What’s next for you guys? What have you got on horizon? Is anything sort of, any new ideas, or innovation, or anything that we can know about?
Sam Hardy: We’ve got basic offices in warehousing distribution in New Zealand. We do want to have a bigger push into the New Zealand market. We’re also looking at how we can start to secure some larger, global contracts and acquire clients warehousing distribution out of a hub somewhere, whether it be either the border in China to Hong Kong in Shenzhen, but yeah, that’s kind of where we’re looking to go, much more of a global scale, and then looking at how we can have a different online offering for ad hoc business as well.
Simon Dell: Okay. So, last question, if people want to talk to you, if they just want to ask you a question about product development or they’ve actually got something that they’d like you to work on, what’s the best way to get a hold of you?
Sam Hardy: I’ll be the first to say I’m not very good at responding to emails. I’m not an email person. I’m a phone call person.
Simon Dell: Are you? Okay, I did a talk this morning where I’ve got everyone to put their hands up and said, “Who never answers their phone or hates talking on the phone?” and there was a lot of people who put their hand up including myself.
Sam Hardy: Really?
Simon Dell: Old school. You’re old school.
Sam Hardy:And I print my emails. If an email’s got more than four sentences in it, I’ll print it out and read it.
Simon Dell: Sam, the trees you’re killing.
Sam Hardy: I know it’s bad but I’m recycling all of them under my desk. So, it does get a recycling.
Simon Dell: Alright, so nobody needs to email you, they just want to call you then, I guess?
Sam Hardy: Just give us a call, yeah.
Simon Dell: Alright, and the number, they can find the number on the website.
Sam Hardy: Just call my mobile. It’s easy.
Simon Dell: Yeah. I know, let’s not do you that. Let’s not do that in case you get some real cranks who listen to this podcast and then decide to call you. So, mate, look, thank you very much for your time. It’s been really, really informative, really appreciate it.
Sam Hardy:No, thank you.
Simon Dell: Thank you for coming on the show and good luck with the growth.
Sam Hardy: Excellent. Thank you very much.