SBJ: Now the second straight year in the Dynamic Dozen, what was key to the company continuing its growth curve?
Robbie Mueller: At the top end with the salespeople, it was all around time spent with customers and trying to align our sales goals to an overall time spent with a customer. Spending time with that customer and learning about the facility and their needs to be proactive on ordering to keep the plants running is super important. It was key to not lose sight of that. Gross margin was a huge focus for us too. As long as we had enough gross margin coming in and we knew the right drivers, we knew we could bring more people in. It was a matter of doing a good job of interviewing well and making sure they understood our company’s mission. As long as we kept focusing on the culture component, that allowed us to scale a lot more.
SBJ: Where and how have you added customers?
Mueller: Our website. In the industrial refrigeration space, an e-commerce, business-to-business model isn’t done a whole lot and it’s not done well. That was something we set up several years ago, and today we can see between 200 and 300 new customers to Keep Supply every month. The biggest thing is as we continue to spend time with customers and go deeper with them, we get referrals to other facilities within the same companies. In our industry, no facility wants to be down on production because the refrigeration system can’t keep something cold. Anytime you can be proactive with customers on that, the word gets around quickly, and you can generate a lot of business that way.
SBJ: How many customers in all?
Mueller: North of 20,000.
SBJ: How has technology and your e-commerce site factored into the business?
Mueller: Now, we’re in a position to where we’ve onboarded a tech team this year and investing in software for customer management and making the website more intuitive and robust for customers. We’ve got over 100,000 SKUs on the website. At the least, it gets a customer in the door to have a conversation with them to help them out.
SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Mueller: The biggest thing is culture. When you grow so fast, you’ve got a good solid core of people (who) remember what it was like wearing multiple hats a day. Now, as roles get more defined, there is less crossover. It’s kind of a culture shock to a lot of people in the environment here. We have a lot of freedom in our day, and we want to use that freedom to be innovative and help people, internally and our customers. The biggest challenge is focusing on culture and making sure when you’re growing fast to take the time to slow down and teach the whys behind our purpose as a company and what we’re trying to accomplish in their lives. As soon as you double your team who believes in that, then you’re in a really good spot to put your foot on the pedal.
SBJ: Have your goals changed as business has taken off?
Mueller: When Drake, Chris and Josh bought the business in 2018, we were the new kids on the block. Now, we’re starting to focus more on our relationships with the vendors of the products we sell to customers, trying to partner and present more training opportunities for our customers, product launches, working better on shipping times, getting more inventory so we can get out ahead of supply chain issues.
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.