Davies Allen, P.C. Interviews Brandon Mackay of SnugZ, USA
Can you tell me about your background? Have you always known that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
My role here is to referee and make sure that we stay on track with our W.I.G., what we call our wildly important goal. I make sure that every decision we make feeds our W.I.G. I don’t know if I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I started fresh out of high school. When I started at SnugZ, there were six total people here, myself included. It’s really scaled from there. I worked in the business from 1994 until 2004 and then the original owner died, and in early 2005, we purchased the business and it’s just had a massive growth trajectory since then. I wasn’t here during the attic days, but my wife was. They had just one product that was sold at that time. It was sold retail and they were putting imprints on it. It was sold in gift shops. Since then, we’ve transitioned away from straight promotional products to corporate programs. When it graduated from the attic, it went to a small space in Midvale. From there, we have ping-ponged our way to where we are now. I think this is probably the sixth or seventh location. We’ve been here for five years, which is awesome.
What do you feel makes SnugZ special?
We’re fun, and the environment of Utah creates a really unique employee. The way that we carry ourselves is a very West-Coast-type of personality as a company. Shorts, t-shirts and the laid-back “we’ll-take-care-of-it” attitude is refreshing to Corporate America and the East Coast. I think that type of personality is enticing to the customer. Our variety of offerings, depth, serviceability, the turnaround time, and a lot of ancillary things that we offer are what we believe the customer wants.
Can you tell me a little bit about the clients that SnugZ serves?
SnugZ is B2B, or business to business. Our customers are specifically promotional product distributors. They are customers that have an account like Vivint, or a firm like yours who puts on a golf tournament, an employee incentive program, safety program, or even corporate wearables like lip balm, a lanyard, Polo shirt, or a cap. From there, we put the logo on it. Once they sell that to one of those firms, then they come and contract us to fill that. We are business-to-business, but we’re really one step removed from the actual consumer of the goods. They want it done right, on time, no questions asked.
What have been the biggest issues that you run into for running a successful business?
Scaling. Always. So with growth, you have revenue, which is great, but then there are also other things that are not-so-great when it comes to growth. Employee-scaling operations as far as equipment or capital expenditures that you need to make. The size of the location that you have always seemed to be a challenge for us. Making sure that we pick the right size location or building to accommodate our needs or future planning has always been a challenge, as well as making sure that employee benefits and wages are always at-market.
You are known for having really a great employee culture. What’s your guys’ secret?
Benefits and fair wages are great, but I think we give our employees a lot of autonomy. I think everybody knows the job they need to accomplish and when they need to get it done by and the oversight for that is really left up to the employee. I think they know what they need to get done by when and how to get there. How they get there, or that latitude, is left up to them.
How do you personally define success? What motivates you?
When you wake up and you’re excited to go to work. If you’re not dreading work, I think you’re in a good, happy spot. Homelife and work-life are all commingled now via technology and there’s really no separation anymore. 30 or 40 years ago when you went to work, that was the last they saw of you until you returned home at night, but I think with technology and the ability to communicate with your family during the day, they kind of cross over. There are some luxuries of technology where you can answer quick questions or just keep your family flowing and moving along while you’re at work. It’s great.
How do you maintain that work-life balance? How have you found what helps you separate from work and how do you recover?
I think Americans, in general, have a very blurry line between work and life balance. For me, the line is really blurry, meaning that I’ll be here from 8 to 5 or 8 to 6, and then I’ll go home for a while and have dinner and enjoy some time with my family. But you know, the work really never sleeps. There are always people calling, always emails to be read and responded to, there’s always a text to read and respond to. I don’t know what the definition of balance is anymore. I live in a different role where I don’t think there’s a lot of freedom, but there is a lot of financial freedom. Saying my job ends at 5 is a complete fallacy. It never ends. It’s 365.
Do you have a personal pattern or a formula that you use for your business life and being a successful entrepreneur?
The formula is always evolving. I think you need to find philosophies that work for you, whether those are reporting philosophies or KPI philosophies, but for us, the methodology that we like to use and implement would be lean manufacturing ideals and concepts within our business, from the manufacturing floor, operations, or the front office. Outside of that, lean, 5S, Kanban, or Kaizen projects. All kinds of improvement theories. If an employee has an idea or project or something that they want to do, we ask: “What are you going to do, how are you going to do it, and when?” That’s really important for us. We chase one big master goal a year, which is really a profitability goal. It’s not top-line revenue-based, it’s net profitability-based, and that has the ability to involve everybody. If you pick a sales goal, that just sales. If you have a profitability goal, then everybody can participate in that, from employees that are shipping to people that are answering the phone.
A huge thank you to Brandon. To read and learn more about the company, please visit them at https://snugzusa.com/.