Very rarely does the same entrepreneur that founds a company have the same skillsets that are required to scale the company. And, when I meet entrepreneurs that have successfully accomplished that, I give them extra special credit. I recently got introduced to Carey Smith, the founder and CEO at Big Ass Solutions, a Lexington, Kentucky based manufacturer of ceiling fans and lighting that Carey successfully grew from $0 to $200MM in revenues over its 17 year history (1999-2015). He was kind enough to share his "sales and marketing playbook" for each phase of the company's growth, to show how it was accomplished and evolved over time. Hopefully, there are some useful tips for all of you to learn from.
In 2003, the company heard their customers start referring to their products as "those big ass fans", and the company made a major rebranding decision to rename the company to Big Ass Fans--a name that would much better be remembered in the customers' minds.
In 2004, the company released a new industrial fan that was 20% more efficient than what had come before, and the company was materially scaling up its employee base to keep up with the growth (where recruiting became a lot easier, after the company was seeing material growth and success). They moved to a new headquarters in 2006, that was able to house all 50 employees in marketing, sales, customer service and manufacturing were all under one roof.
Part of this growth is a result of the company launching a new lighting division in 2014, Big Ass Light, which began with a focus on industrial strength LEDs, but has quickly branched into commercial and residential fields with the continued development of new products. The creation of Big Ass Light led to the company officially changing its name to Big Ass Solutions in 2014.
What an adventure! The most important thing to glean from this post was how Carey continued to pivot and grow the business in new directions over time. Industrial was expanded to residential. Domestic was expanded to international. Few products got expanded to many products. Fans got expanded into lighting. And, so on. Not to mention, recruiting and retaining great talent along the way. Thanks Carey for sharing your great story here, and congratulations on all your amazing success. Let it be a lesson for all of us to learn from.
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