My name is Patrick Scott Pitman, and since 1996 I’ve worked in product-based, factory-direct-to-consumer companies. After 22 years witnessing their victories and travails, I want to expand the network and resources available to nurture these kinds of businesses.
With support, they can be bright lights in their hometowns, in your hometown.
The best product brands are born of a passion for design, functionality, beauty, or story. Sometimes there can be an urgency to their being “born,” as if their creators feel compelled to the work of their invention or commercialization.
But there’s a challenging complexity to growing this kind of business.
Unlike a curated retail storefront distributing others products, the manufacturer / maker who sells direct manages a broader spectrum of business. There’s the production process, the cost of raw and finished goods, sales channels, customer service. Just keeping the pulse of a distracted marketplace demands attention. Digital marketing evolves and opportunity and frustration abounds. Such a business model makes great demands on its leaders.
- What’s the next challenge around the bend? What don’t you know? When will you get stuck?
- What if others like you could lend an ear or an idea?
- What if, with support, you came to love your brand’s business operations as much as you love its products?
I’m married to author Karly Randolph Pitman with whom I’m helping to grow up four children and assorted four-legged creatures.
We enjoy living in dynamic Austin, Texas but get back to ambling Montana as often as I can. Montana is where I have lived much of my life, among people who value each other, their dogs, and the land. We still wave when we pass each other on the road.
Since 2001 I’ve worked with Jim Markel, CEO of Red Oxx Manufacturing, to figure out how to make and sell products in America.
At the time we met, Jim had a little shop in Billings, Montana, a website, and big plans. In 2016 Red Oxx relies on a mix of channels to profitably feed its expanded factory. It’s a bright light in its hometown. To make it work, there’s not much between us that we haven’t tried.
A former rusted hulk of a building, the new home to the expanded Red Oxx factory in Billings, Montana is a building and ecosystem reborn.
Like Red Oxx, I imagine product brands with a factory-direct model thriving in communities across America.
Make it local, sell it global. Do it sustainably in style.
Whether building up business operations, hiring teams, organizing customer service systems, or answering the perpetual question of ‘how do we find more customers?’, I’ve made many mistakes:
Spent six figures on features that didn’t make a difference;
Been hacked by Russians, really;
Dug through the shifting sands of sustaining online traffic;
Hired and fired many times over; tested products and 1,000 offers;
Wrangled system integrations so data flows;
Puzzled over website design revisions and behavioral testing;
Sent many millions of email offers;
Chosen to stop, or continue, living the consequences of the P&L;
Lived the aftermath when our humanity trumps the tech and compromises our grand plans.
If there’s truth to the humorous adage about a business owner going to see a banker about a loan, then that would give me comfort.
The entrepreneur is denied the loan for lack of experience. The banker says experience will ensure good decisions about how to use the money. The entrepreneur asks “How do I learn to make good decisions?’ And the wisened banker replies: ‘Make bad decisions.’
I help ambitious product brands navigate today’s environment through good and bad decisions, making fewer of the latter. If that happens, they’ll grow up to be economic engines for their communities.
I play at jiu jitsu. If there’s a surefire way to ‘get out of my head’, it’s rolling in the Brazilian tradition. Movement games like submission grappling remind me that speed and force are not sustainable strategies.
Training on the mat shows me undeniably the wisdom of the counter-intuitive maxim that slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
Skilled efficiency can win the short game, and always wins the long. Which game are you playing?
Jiu jitsu also reminds me that we need each other, achieving together with our partners what we could not do training alone.