One counterintuitive factor in many fast-growth businesses is the strategy of encouraging an entrepreneurial culture. An entrepreneurial culture is where every person embraces thinking like a business owner. When you have an entrepreneurial culture, you have a group of empowered employees that feel and act like owners. My guests today are the executives of Dynamic Blending. We have Gavin Collier, CEO, and Jordan Erskine, President. Dynamic Blending was ranked #17 on the 2020 Inc 5000 list. We look at the critical elements of an entrepreneurial culture and why it is so important.
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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
For myself, I want to make those around me as, as good as I can make them and make them perform at their best. That’s kind of the way I view myself as CEO, I want to make everybody around me perform at their best. And so if I can coach them or help them in any way, but I mean, what you deal when you when you’re creating these types of companies, is you’re bringing in a lot of personalities. And I think, you know, everybody makes mistakes in hiring, on occasion, and I think is, as you grow as an organization, you might grow before outgrow some of the people that are on the team.
We want people to feel like they created this, that they own it, and they’re in charge of it, right, regardless of who’s around them, or C-levels breathing down their neck or not, they own it, and they need to, they need to, you know, execute on it. And because of that, again, our quality department operations department, project management, and cell marketing, every single department has that same mentality. And that’s kind of what we push down.
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you would get insight from the founders, and the CEOs, the fastest-growing, privately held companies, I am the host, my name is genius. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth, are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett [1:29]
When you think about culture, you think about all of the elements that drive your culture forward, to connect the people that allow you to perform at a higher level? Well, one of the factors I’ve seen in all these interviews on this podcast, do my clients, and talking with founders and CEOs of fast-growth companies, is an entrepreneurial culture that is something that they aspire to. And when you think about an entrepreneurial culture, it’s not about you know, encouraging people to be entrepreneurs and leave the company. And in fact, it’s just the opposite. encouraging them to think like entrepreneurs are where they will give their all their loyalty is increased their creativity and innovation is taken to a higher level because you treat them as equals, not just people that are there to get the work done. And when you talk about your people, I want you to think about this entrepreneurial culture is a way to engage them to go beyond where they are today, and just doing the work, but really enjoying what they do and putting everything they’ve got into it. We have a very special guest today on the show, it is Gavin Collier, the CEO of Dynamic Blending. We also have Jordan Erskine, the president of this company, they were number 17, on the Inc list over 11,000% growth and three year period. What we talked about today is entrepreneurial culture. This is about empowerment. This is about real inclusion and how people feel connected to what’s going on inside here. We talked about a lot of the different details that allow you to mimic this entrepreneur culture. But most of all, why it’s so important for fast growth. When you think about leadership and growth, I want you to think about Growth Think Tank. I pride myself in interviewing the founders and CEOs of the fastest-growing companies. That’s what makes us different. The stories that we have and share are all for other founders just like yourself. If that’s you, make sure you subscribe. Make sure you follow us on YouTube because we put some of the interviews over there as well. We really want to create content to allow you to be the leader that your team deserves. Now, before we go any further, make sure you subscribe. And then now here’s the interview with Gavin and Jordan.
Gene Hammett [3:32]
Hey guys, how are you?
Gavin Colliers [3:34]
We’re doing great.
Jordan Erskine [3:34]
We’re doing good.
Gavin Colliers [3:35]
Gene Hammett [3:36]
Well, I’m here with Gavin and Jordan to talk about Dynamic Blending. I’d love to let you guys tune the audience into exactly what do you do with Dynamic Blending?
Jordan Erskine [3:46]
Yeah, so Dynamic Blending, we’re a full-service turnkey contract manufacturer. So we manufacture products in the personal care space, the cosmetic space, the skincare space, oral care space. We have capabilities in the hundreds of products that we manufacture and even blending. We have an in house r&d lab. So the goal of dynamic is to move a product from start to finish, the customer never has to leave and look elsewhere for services or anything like that.
Gene Hammett [4:18]
Well, I would imagine that business has been exploding over the last few years. You guys were number 17 on the Inc list when you guys got notified that you actually were 17th How did you feel?
Gavin Colliers [4:29]
So it’s kind of funny, we found out and we kind of didn’t want to tell the company right away. And so we kind of celebrated quietly there for a minute it was it was really cool. We’re able to share with our families, that awesome growth that we had, but then we did a really cool reveal to the company and brought in food trucks and had drones flying around and did a cool, cool presentation to that company and it was really just an honor because I mean It happened because of the people that we have that work for us. So it was just, it was just a really good time. So it was awesome.
Gene Hammett [5:08]
I want to put this in context, and you don’t have to give me the numbers you don’t want to share. But it was published that you guys did 11,491% growth in three years. And that’s revenue growth. Yes. A lot of companies have, how is that even possible? So what would you explain that?
Gavin Colliers [5:23]
I’d say it’s possible, and it’s crazy. It’s been a good couple of years. That’s what I’ll say.
Jordan Erskine [5:30]
Yeah, it means you haven’t, you know, we our backgrounds in contract effects. And that’s why we started that one. So combined, we have, you know, 30 years of experience in the industry. And so when we started dynamic blending, it was very, very easy to know exactly what to do, how to set up the processes for the company, how to build the departments out and how to win those contracts. And that’s what we did, we started going after those big contracts, and sort of winning those because people knew, and companies knew that we know what we’re doing. You know, we were disrupting the contract manufacturing space.
Gene Hammett [6:06]
And you guys have just under 100 employees, it’s hard to scale that fast. But you know, you have people, and you had mentioned this to Gavin about how important your people were, what would you say is the core principle or the core Guiding Light, if you will, to the people of this organization?
Gavin Colliers [6:26]
I mean, one thing we always ask every person we interview is, I mean, we kind of give a hypothetical of, you know, we want people that are willing to do what it takes to get the job done. And we give the example of, you know, if an audit is going to be done on our facility, that you’ll see Jordan or me out, sweeping the warehouse, we want employees that don’t feel like any job is beneath them. And so we look for that, that type of person. And that’s what we’ve found, so far. Everybody is willing to work and do what needs to be done to get the job done. And do it right. And that’s what our customers demand and require, and are our personnel. I mean, they’re awesome. It’s like a big family. And people love, working together and building. So it’s awesome.
Gene Hammett [7:18]
I’m always curious, I want to go a little bit deeper with that. How do you determine that inside of the interview process?
Gavin Colliers [7:25]
I mean, it’s kind of a gut feeling. I mean, and then you kind of notice pretty quickly after if, if you offer a job to somebody and they start working for you, you kind of realize who they are pretty quickly. And our gut feelings have been pretty good so far. I mean, we’ve made some mistakes. But obviously, we’ve been pretty good at picking our personnel. And a lot of them. At least the main positions were people that we knew from the industry prior to starting dynamic lending. So we had some pretty stable pillars to rely upon great, great people so
Hold on for a second, did you hear them talking about gut feelings in the hiring process? Well, you’re probably much the same, you know, when someone is right for the job, the culture or not, but what could you do to operationalize that, and what can you do to systematize, it, make it more predictable? Well, you take your values that you have inside the company, the things that are most important in the culture, and you actually create questions that allow you to see if there’s a fit. Now, I encourage you not to create a direct question, but create an indirect question, create something that allows you to see the real intent and natural place where this person is. Now, when you think about hiring the right people, you can trust your gut. But we all know that we sometimes we make mistakes, create some questions in advance for you and the team to see how well they fit with the culture of the company. And back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [8:54]
Well, I know that one of the things you guys are proud of is building a team that that feels empowered. And a lot of leaders are trying to figure out what does that how do we actually do that? So how did you approach empowering your people?
Jordan Erskine [9:11]
Yeah, I think, you know, we’re very innovative and entrepreneurial here. And I think that’s the culture that we want to keep and because of that culture, we get very, very good results from our employees, you know, and because of that, it’s easier for the C level, me and Gavin to take a step back and not always be micromanaging. Right, like our, like our marketing and branding team, you know, nobody micromanages them because, you know, they have their tasks to do they go do it and then they bring it to us based on their creative genius, you know, whatever they feel, and, and that’s kind of how we treat every department, you know, whether it’s, you know, our project managers setting up custom processes, no one’s sitting there over their shoulder, you know, do this, this and this even though we can write because we have over 30 years of experience in the industry, we try to empower people so that they feel like they’re important. And they feel like they own those processes, right? They created them, and now they own them. And obviously, they’re gonna follow them a lot easier. If that’s the situation.
Gene Hammett [10:15]
You guys probably aren’t that familiar with my research, but hundreds of Inc founders like yourself, that are driving fast-growth companies really go for not a culture of accountability, but a culture of ownership. And that ownership is where people feel connected to the mission, even if they don’t have a financial stake.
Jordan Erskine [10:34]
Gene Hammett [10:35]
Have you guys given everyone a financial stake? Or is it only certain segments of the employee staff?
Gavin Colliers [10:41]
So one cool thing we do, because we’re so entrepreneurial, I mean, I’ve created companies with Jordan, and we will cut in our C-level guys will cut in our managers onto the side ventures so that they feel like, hey, I’ve got a stake in this other business with Gavin and Jordan. And then we also I mean, we’ve done pretty, really great bonuses for our, for our people, and we make everything as fun as we possibly can. But, I mean, we look to include the key people where they need to be included in and give them that that’s that ownership that stake where they feel like, Look, if I do well, I’m going to benefit and, and that’s what we want, we want them to benefit. And I think what you’ll find with Jordan is we are not, I mean, some you could say ownership or typically wanting all the money. And we’re we want to make everybody around us as rich as possible. And if we do that, I think we along the way, will become quite successful. So we look to build these awesome teams. And that’s what we’ve been doing.
Gene Hammett [11:52]
Well, I want to go back to something you guys said, I can’t remember who said it. But you’re talking about you’ve been in the business for 30 plus years, you know how to do everything, but you don’t micromanage. So how do you resist and work with people when you know how to do something, but you want them to own the steps in the process in that journey? Is there a specific approach you take to that?
Jordan Erskine [12:16]
Oh, it kind of goes back to what you’re saying. It’s not necessarily accountability, but more on that ownership side, right. So they’re still they still own those processes, or their or their job function, and they’re still held to that standard. But again, we approach it a little bit differently, you know, because again, we want people to feel like they created this, that they own it, and they’re in charge of it, right, regardless of who’s around them, or, you know, if sea levels breathing down their neck, they’re not, they own it, and they need to, they need to, you know, execute on it. And because of that, again, our quality department is our operations department. Project Management, and sales and marketing, every single department here has that same mentality, and that’s kind of what we push down to them is, is, you know, again, starting a manufacturing company from scratch, you know, five years ago, it was very, very difficult. I mean, we’re still creating new processes every day, and it’s been five years, you know, it’s just, it’s what we’re doing is just such a beast of a company, and there are so many moving parts. And, you know, we’ve got FDA regulations that we have to follow and make sure that we’re, that we’re in compliance there.
Jordan Erskine [13:25]
And, you know, there might be compliance things that we have to hire a whole team of people just to make sure that, that we’re staying compliant, you know, and so, the empowerment side is huge here. And I think that’s why we’ve grown so fast, and we haven’t had a lot of issues with employees or employee turnover. You know, I mean, imagine growing a company like ours, and, you know, we have a constant turnover in our, in our r&d lab, you know, we can never keep chemists, we can never keep a, like a VP of research and development, then we wouldn’t be very successful. You know, we would spend all our time interviewing and climbing our eyes out trying to find like, it gets all people that we never have to worry about again. And so I think, you know, going back to that empowerment thing, a lot of people still don’t understand that, you know, is how you treat your employees is the work you’re gonna get back.
Gene Hammett [14:16]
You guys may not be aware of this, but I have an impossible question. I asked founders just like yourself, I don’t always do it. ask you guys. It is an impossible question. But it as leaders, what’s more important, your employees, your customers?
Gavin Colliers [14:33]
That’s a difficult one.
Gavin Colliers [14:36]
Well, I think I think for me, if I don’t have my house in order, my employees doing what they need to do, and I can’t take care of my customers. So I can’t say that my customers are important. If I know that my employees are not performing at their best and doing the job that needs to be done so that the customer gets what they’re paying for. So I’d say in that Order, I got to make sure my employees are the number one priority for me. And then thereafter because of that prioritization, my customers benefit because of that.
Jordan Erskine [15:12]
Yeah, and I wanted to add one thing to, I think Gavin spot on, if our internal employees and our departments aren’t set up and they’re dysfunctional, then we’re not going to have customers, right? If we have continual safety issues in operations and warehouse, then that’s going to detract from us, you know, retaining customers, so, and what we found to in the, you know, few short years, since we’ve really been hitting this business hard, his customers attract customers are attracted to our team, right? They know, they know that we’re experts, that’s not a question. It’s, they fall in love with our team, and they trust us, and they want to do business with us, because they see that, you know, we’re innovative and disruptive, and we’re doing really cool things in the industry. And so they just are attracted to us naturally, because of our team. And because of our employees, you know, in any given customer, we’ll talk to Geez, maybe 10 different people here throughout their process, you know, throughout their lifecycle of getting their product from r&d, and through our various stages to market. They’ll talk to many, many people on our team. And if they don’t, if they aren’t confident, we hear about it, you know, we’ve had a couple of issues in the past, and, you know, we’ve had to address but for the most part, our clients and our customers fall in love with our team, you know, in our, in our employees.
Okay, so now that you understand employee first is what created the space for this company to grow fast? I want to ask you a question. Are you employee first or customer First? Do you focus on the employee’s well being, and how they engage around the work that they do? Or you focus on serving the customers? First? I know this is a hard question this reason I call it the impossible question. But fast-growth companies will create a space for the employees to feel taken care of it feel like they’re connected to the work, they feel like owners. When you do that, as a leader, you will have a powerful force behind you. And they can serve the customers as they need to be served, they can find the problems, they can be intentional when is necessary. I share this with you because my research around fast-growth companies leads me to one big idea is that those leaders put employees first. And that’s what makes the company scale at the pace they do. Back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [17:33]
Well, I’m glad to hear you say that, because it fits along with the lines of what your peers are saying. And the details behind this are 94% plus, we’ll say that it’s employee-first with companies, bigger companies, slower-growing companies, all will kind of go-to customers because they want to serve the customers. And we all get that the customers have to be served, you have to solve problems, we have to add value. But in order to scale at the rate you guys are going, it takes that that special brand of a team. Right? You had said something earlier, Jordan, I think it was you that entrepreneurial culture. empowerment is one of those factors. What else do you kind of put in there as a part of that entrepreneurial culture?
Jordan Erskine [18:22]
I think maybe candacy. Like, be, you know, we want our employees to be candid with us, right? We don’t want you to know, problems or anything like that to be swept under the rug, you know, we do a very good job at letting all our employees like, any problem whatsoever, you know, you need to be candid, we need to address it quickly. And because of that, we’re able to put these fires out quickly, and not let it be a huge issue down the road. You know, and I think it’s just because we’ve instilled that in all of our employees that you know, mine and Gavin’s office, the door’s always open, you know, I mean, with the amount of money that we’re making, and how fast we’re growing.
Jordan Erskine [19:00]
I mean, we could be those owners that are never here. But we’re here every day, we’re right alongside you, buddy. And people are coming in and out of our offices, and we’re helping them make these decisions or helping them solve these problems. And I think you have to have that open line of communication. Because, you know, I’ve heard of businesses and have known of businesses where the employees are very scared to go talk to the C level or very scared to go talk to the founder, you know, because he’s so untouchable, or they’re so untouchable. And it’s not the case at all. I mean, as Gavin said earlier, well, if we have a big audit or a big tour with a big, big company, I mean, we’ll be down in the warehouse sleeping with everybody, you know, well, it’s not above us. And I think that’s, you know, that empowerment that you know, it’s not my job doesn’t exist here type culture. You know, I think that’s another really, really important part of that power. are you know, then it’s not my job excuse just doesn’t exist here.
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Gene Hammett [20:11]
Well, I want to kind of switch gears a little bit, you guys are pretty young, you’re younger than I am. And I get the fancy haircut to go with it. But you guys have evolved as leaders, what is something you guys have learned maybe the hard way in this journey of fast growth around leadership that, you know, humbled you a little bit, but made you better because of it? Is there anything that comes to mind?
Gavin Colliers [20:41]
I mean, I was talking with Jordan about this beforehand, I mean, I think and you also just that knowing when to let go of, of a key, maybe power you had beforehand, or a function that you had as a founder and kind of passing the reins to, to somebody else, and allowing them to take ownership of that new responsibility that you’re passing off to them, I think that’s a very important thing to do as a leader, and, and I think is, for myself, I want to make those around me as good as I can make them and make them perform at their best. That’s kind of the way I view myself as CEO, I want to make everybody around me perform at their best. And so if I can coach them, or help them in any way, but what I mean, what you deal with, when you’re creating these types of companies is, you know, you’re bringing in a lot of personnel and, and I think you know, everybody makes mistakes in hiring, on occasion, and I think is, as you grow as an organization, you might grow or outgrow some of the people that are on the team. And it’s important, I think, as a leader to recognize that early. Because if you allow, allow that to stay, then then it actually creates problems with throughout the company. And it’s very important to address quickly so that’s kind of that’s my answer.
Gene Hammett [22:16]
There’s, there’s a wise saying, it gets repeated in different frameworks. But sometimes the people that got you here aren’t the people that get you to the next level. And as hard as that is, many times it goes back to they fail to evolve, they fail to really step up in a way and take ownership from my perspective. So I appreciate you saying that you know, dynamic lending has had a very strong Ron here, what’s one thing you guys are focused on in the future to improve the culture and the team as you continue to grow?
Gavin Colliers [22:53]
I mean, I think we, as we continue to grow, I think we always kind of, even when we interview people, we talked about the opportunity, right? And we want people to take ownership of their positions, but we want them to envision something far greater than what they see on day one when they come to dynamic. Because of where we came from, we’ve seen those, you know, half a billion-dollar or billion-dollar manufacturers, and we see ourselves there is the leadership of the company we see in the next few years. us, our company is there. So I think as leaders, we tried to convey that vision to them. So that they see the opportunity that Yeah, right now, you have, you know, a certain number of employees, but you could have 50 to 60 to 100 yourself. And that’s kind of what we, we try to do as a leader we want we want people to see the big picture because we see it. And I mean, it’s gonna be awesome. But setup. We want them to get us there.
Gene Hammett [23:57]
Well, thank you guys for being here on the podcast. Really appreciate your sharing that wisdom.
Gavin Colliers [24:02]
Jordan Erskine [24:02]
Gene Hammett [24:03]
Thank you. I love smart leaders who really understand that people are the most important element to fast growth. When you think about scaling your company wants to make sure your people are taking care of this entrepreneurial culture is something I believe in. I’ve seen it hundreds and hundreds of times across all of these interviews. And so you can activate that if you step up with your own leadership. If you have any questions about how to actually do this inside your company, make sure you reach out to me, I’d love to connect with you just go to my website, Gene Hammett. You can find try coaching links up there you can connect with me where I can serve you without you investing any money.
Gene Hammett [24:40]
I want to make sure that you understand this is not an empty offer. This is an offer I make to those that really do want to take it to the next level with leadership and culture. Just go to genehammett.com. When you think about leadership and you think about culture, think of Growth Think Tank, as always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
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