You don’t just hire people to do some work if you want to grow fast. You need buy-in from employees that is deeper than just the trade of time for money. Today’s guest is Daniel Catullo, Chief Customer Officer and Co-founder at Perishable Shipping Solutions. Inc Magazine ranked his company #177 on the 2021 Inc 5000 list. Perishable Shipping Solutions provides temperature-controlled e-commerce order fulfillment services for foods and beverages. Daniel gives you the strategies of getting buy-in from employees. We talk about the importance of this idea. Daniel has proven that buy-in from employees is a considerable part of company growth.
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Daniel Catullo: The Transcript
About: Daniel Catullo, started Perishable Shipping Solutions (PSS) from my desire to help other small businesses ship perishable products safely and cost-effectively to their customers. Daniel is a 3rd generation business owner and he took over his family’s butcher shop in 2007. He wanted to expand beyond his local town borders and jumped into e-Commerce. Daniel Catullo tried to find a company who could help handle his fulfillment, but as a small business, there just weren’t any solutions that fit his needs. Through trial and error, he learned first-hand the challenges of packing and shipping perishable products. Along the way, he partnered with FedEx to grow his e-Commerce business and won the 2014 Small Business Grant Award.
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.
Daniel Catullo: Every startup that tries to be data-focused like ourselves. , we’re constantly reinventing how we’re looking at data and, you know, trying to make sure that we have the correct metrics in place so that we can be able to manage our client’s success for us though. It’s not necessarily just what we’re doing today. We also have to be thinking about the future as well.
Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: Today we look at getting employee buy-in as they serve the customers, getting buy-in from anyone, takes a level of commitment and conversations that most people feel like they don’t have time for it. They’re not willing to put in the effort in the long-term to create this sense of buy-in, but we all know leaders of fast-growth companies that if you take the time if you build the relationship and you get buy-in from employees. You will have something special, they will be able to overcome the challenges and issues in front of them. There’ll be a sense of empowerment that runs throughout the organization and a sense of accountability. Serving customers is the name of the game. We have Danny Catullo, and Danny talks about what he’s really learned in this journey of fast growth. They were on the list and they really are growing at an astronomical pace. And he talks about the importance of hiring the right people. Now you may know that, but we talk about some of the details behind it. He actually gives a question. We’ll help you figure out if someone’s willing to take ownership of their work.
And I really love this question. You will love it too. Another thing the inside here is talks about what does it take to truly be a leader that evolves from where you are today to be the kind of leader that your team needs? Well, inside this episode, you’ll find out more about that and it’s all centered around how to get buy-in from employees. Every leader, I know wants a deeper commitment and sense of loyalty from the people they have. Well, today’s episode will help you with that. Now, if you are looking at your own journey as a leader, you want to make sure that you’re really evolving. You understand your blind spot, all of the things that get in the way of you being the leader that you could be. Well, all you have to do is have a call with me. I’d love to be that person to help you through this tough period where you’re not quite sure to do this. I got coaching many, many years ago, almost 20 years ago from Linda and Linda changed my world. The clarity that she brought to me. It was profound and I became a coach because of it. I want to give that back to you. If you’re looking for the next step, you’re something you’re not clear about. I want to have a conversation with you. I call this the game plan. I want to help you get really clear about what’s next. I promise that to sell you anything inside that conversation, but I promise to help serve you to the highest level possible.
All you have to do is go to GeneHammett.com and schedule your call.
Now here’s the interview with Danny.
Hey, Danny. How are you?
Daniel Catullo: I’m doing great. How about you?
Gene Hammett: I am fantastic. Excited to have you here on the podcast. We focus on fast-growth companies. We talk about leadership and culture. You made the Inc list. Tell us about, Go Perishable.
Daniel Catullo: Yes. So I am one of the co-founders of Perishable Shipping Solutions. We are accompanied that helps e-commerce food companies be able to get their products direct to the consumer.
Gene Hammett: Love it. I’m sure you’re seeing a lot of growth through all the changes in e-commerce and I get boxes every day. So I’m not, it’s not just from you, but it must be feeling the impact to this.
Daniel Catullo: Oh, definitely. So, you know, from my family had a butcher shop and I started shipping perishables about 15 years ago was one of the first Perishable companies that go on Shopify. And where we were in the market then to where we are today is just been astounding growth as more and more people feel comfortable getting food delivered to their house.
Gene Hammett: Well, we’re going to have a great conversation today because my team has done some research about you and the company. And we researched everybody that comes on the show. But you talked about the importance of this customer relationship. I’d love for you to give us a little bit of how you look at the customer relationship as your company’s grown.
Daniel Catullo: Yeah, definitely. So, so I came from the retail world, like I mentioned, my family had a small little butcher shop. That we ended up taking to be a national company by shipping online, but I come from this very customer service-focused world of making sure your customers were taken care of and you understood their needs. As I moved to being more of a B2B business and working with our clients over here at PSS. I wanted to take that same approach on how we understood what our clients wanted to have happened and make sure that was meshing well with our operations team so that we can perform excellently right from the beginning and consistently.
Gene Hammett: Are you, you know someone who measures this kind of stuff or is it just kind of ad hoc as your company’s grown?
Daniel Catullo: Well, I, you know, a little bit. And so, you know, every startup, that tries to be data-focused like ourselves, we’re constantly reinventing how we’re looking at data and trying to make sure that we have the correct metrics in place so that we could be able to manage our client’s success. For us though. It’s not necessarily just what we’re doing today. We also have to be thinking about the future as well. So just an example of that five years ago, we founded the company it’s even about three years ago. We really didn’t see Amazon as a major marketplace. When it came to our clients that were selling food, Amazon didn’t ship food. So they weren’t necessarily focused as a marketplace to sell it. We started seeing things changed and we were getting a lot of data around this sort of high growth of companies that were putting food products on Amazon, even though it was small, relatively the percentage growth was high. We started taking these ideas to our clients to help show them a pathway to sell their food. Not only on their own website but using Amazon as a second portal by taking that data over to them. Not only are clients selling more, but then, in turn, we’re shipping more. So we’re definitely aligned on our client’s success and it really helps drive the revenue of both of our companies.
Gene Hammett: So most of the conversations here are really around leadership and culture. So I kind of want to back up and talk about how do you get your employees to make sure that they’re taking care of the customers to your standards? Because I think a lot of leaders have really high standards and I understand this. This is what makes them who they are. , but how do you get your employees to take the same level of ownership around those relationships?
Daniel Catullo: Well, I think the best way that you can get buy-in from all levels of your employees is by starting as a leadership team, depth, own issues. I’ve been on countless calls with our clients, owning our own problem, whether it be an inventory-related issue, an operations issue, a setup issue, an engineering issue, no matter whose department it is. In the end, it’s the Perishable Shipping Solutions problem. And if our employees can see our leadership team go on this stuff, phone calls own the issues when necessary provide credits. If they’re going to take that same approach when they’re on their phone calls, when there’s a major problem with the client or a major opportunity, knowing that they have the backing of senior leadership, that we would approach a very client-friendly response, no matter what, in the end, our employees aren’t necessarily going to speak the same words we would. But if they make the choice of taking care of the customer first, we can live with any of the results that our team does when it comes to handling our clients.
Commentary: Hold on, Danny, just talked about getting your executive leadership team to take ownership of the issues in front of them. Well, this is the exact thing that you must do. If you want your company to grow beyond where it is today, if you feel like you’ve got a team that’s coming together, you’re, you’re selecting the right people. Maybe they’ve been on there for a while, but they’re not taking ownership of issues. This is the one challenge you’ve got to focus on. The one thing as a leader is getting each of those people to take ownership of their own individual areas, collaborating together and making sure that they’re solving problems without you, because as the founder of a company and in someone who’s intimately involved, it’s very easy for you to be involved, but you want people to take ownership. Your job is to coach them and encourage them to do that. This is just a PSA announcement from. I see a lot of founders that struggle in this zone and I want to help you get through it with ease back to Danny.
Gene Hammett: Know this sense of ownership is a very important word. It’s actually the book that I’m writing. You’re probably not aware of my research. , those that are regular listeners probably hear me talk about a lot. I am still working on the book. We will get it out as soon as we can. I’m not rushing it. How do you get someone like an executive leadership team to take ownership of those issues without any kind of blame or excuses that keep coming up? Is there something that you could share with us today?
Daniel Catullo: Well, I think just from like a founding the business standpoint, you know, I wanted to make sure that I had those, that I was partners with. I had that same sort of philosophy. And you could typically tell that pretty early on when you’re starting a company, will it be another person on your team that owns an issue, even if they didn’t necessarily cause that issue. And with Ruben Garcia and Mark Nelson, you know, the three original partners. I felt very comfortable that we all come from that sort of background. Then the onus is on us to make those sorts of hires. So as we’re interviewing candidates, whether it be for a senior position or for a packer, we have to make sure that they believe in owning their issues, or they’re not going to fare very well perishable shipping solutions. Cause that needs to be waned in our culture. From top to bottom.
Gene Hammett: I have a favorite question that I asked. , whenever someone asks you, how do you hire someone that takes ownership and it works like this, and I’m kind of curious what your questions are, but that one question is, you know, give me a big goal that you wanted to hit, but you weren’t able to. But the real question is in the second part, which is why didn’t you hit it? Do you see the elegant? The simple kind of sequence of questions about people taking ownership.
Daniel Catullo: Oh, I love it. When we do something, I’ll call it similar, but you know, a different approach to it. And it’s what happens when two people ask you to get something done and you could only do one thing during the day. So it’s your boss and your boss’s boss and what we’re really looking for. Will someone feel comfortable raising their hand and saying, I need help? I don’t think that I’m going to be able to get this done. And that’s really taking ownership in your work because sometimes there’s not enough hours in the day. Sometimes there’s not enough chances to be excellent in everything that you do. And you need to feel comfortable to raise your hand and recognize that your leader. Take ownership in your work as well. And that we can be able to help provide support when necessary.
Gene Hammett: Love that question. I’m running it down here because I think that when you have someone who isn’t willing to say, they need help, you’re most likely going to get the wrong solution. And it’s okay. Especially in those early years. Two or months I’m not to ask for help. And a lot of people just are afraid to do that. I really appreciate you sharing that question with us, Danny, when you are looking, you know, beyond the executive leadership team and getting people to take ownership of their departments, the client experience, what other things would we see in your organization that you’re really proud of. And can share with us.
Daniel Catullo: Yeah, I would say that we do a great job of hands-on coaching in the moment. So just sometimes diving into a process and having your team explain it to you from their own words is we build, you know, I’ve been around this company from its inception. I was the first person to pack a box. And so, you know, very small team doing everything myself, one or two other team members to now having over 160 employees, I can just be disconnected from a process pretty easily. So just by having our team, explain it to me from their own words also shows that, Hey, we’re part of owning that process with you. We want to understand it from your perspective and maybe things that were applicable two years ago, just aren’t applicable today as got our three extra each year,
Commentary: Danny just said, coaching in the moment is what’s helping him really lead the company where he needs to be. And it doesn’t mean just him. He means everyone across the company. So what do you have to do as the founder or CEO of a company that’s growing fast, you have to encourage coaching skills. You have to create space for them to understand what coaching really is, what it looks like, and how it feels you have to lead by example. Hopefully, you have a coach. This is not an advertisement for me, but if you’re not sure of what that coaching relationship feels like and what it is. Then you’re going to be, you’re really pressed to be able to coach your executive leadership team. And they’re going to be really pressed to coach their teams around them. And the middle managers are going to suffer the most. So coaching skill is the number one skill that you have to have. If you want your company to grow, don’t take my word for it. Google their big study on this, around the skills of managers, we’ll call them. Leaders, because I’m not sure about the manager phrase, but Google tested all of these teams that we’re performing at a high level. And they did cross-reference with teams that are not performing at the highest levels. And the number one skill that was really impactful was the skill of coaching. The ability to ask questions, the ability to let people figure out their own answers, and the ability to serve people without just telling them what to do next. It’s just never working. So back to Danny.
Gene Hammett: Yeah. The coaching skill is, is very underestimated as companies grow. , what you really are looking for people to take a sense of empowerment around this. And if you tell them what to do, it really kills that empowerment. Have you seen that with your team?
Daniel Catullo: Telling people what to do and, or doing things for them? It’s just does it, it’s not sustainable. , like there’s as a founder, you’re working too many hours because every minute that you’re not working, you believe that somebody else is taking a step to take over the marketplace that you’re trying to create. Right. Or trying to take over. So there’s too many hours that you need to put in there. The only way to truly grow with the company is by empowering others to help you grow. And it’s not going to be done by night, myself doing their work or by me just directly giving them instructions to do each day. I really need them to own what needs to get done each day. And for them to understand that they need to understand the why, why are we doing this process? Why are we doing things that way? And I’d rather take my time on explaining the why then giving instructions or doing their work any day or any week of the year.
Gene Hammett: I want to talk just briefly about high standards. Now I have different feelings on this, but I don’t want to kind of coach you through this. I’ve had some CEO say, you’ve just got to lower your standards because that’s what is necessary when you’re truly going to delegate to someone. But when you’ve got the package has to be shipped at the right time, it has to be the right things in the package. And there’s so many other, you know, technical factors and whatnot. What’s your relationship with a high standard as a leader company?
Daniel Catullo: You know, probably see my face light up. It’s like you’re tiptoeing this line of demanding excellence. Which is, you know, a core competency of, I believe a PSS and another one is this realistic expectation. You can only get so much done or you can only work so hard, or you can only have the skill sets that you’ve been trained to have tiptoeing. That line is an important quality of a great coach that could be able to understand both sides of the story. Yes, you need to demand excellence, but you also have to understand that realistic expectation. How many resources you gave to that sort of problem. If you can’t do both, then you’re going to be too lax or you’re going to be too strict and no one’s going to want to work for you or with you to help solve a problem. So you really have to tiptoe that line and understand when push the buttons one way or another for you to get through the day.
Gene Hammett: And with as many employees as you are, you have over 160, 180. That’s gotta be. Ongoing thing.
Daniel Catullo: Yeah. And I think it’s contagious as well. So there’s so much that you could do in the interview. You try to hire, you know, great leaders to help coach any, everybody on the team, but also it becomes contagious. So if I demand excellence in our morning meetings and in our afternoon patch-ups, But I also have realistic expectations when we’re not able to accomplish all of our goals. Our leaders will do the same with their team. They’re going to push them to do even better. They’re going to help demand better results, but they’re also going to see where those opportunities lie, what they could have done a better job, allocating resources. So we got to hit those goals as well. You really have to toe that line. There is no perfect answer.
Gene Hammett: Danny, one of the questions I don’t always ask, but I’m always going to. We as leaders go through inflection points, there’s points where you really change, evolve, and maybe even let go of the way you thought it was. Can you look back in your journey as a leader and look at one of those inflection points and share it with us today?
Daniel Catullo: Yeah, definitely. So, founder of the business, I came from a small business, owning a butcher shop with 40 50 employees, never really did B2B. You know, our, our high growth was doubling from a 1 million revenue company to, to, you know, this has been a much more magical journey and being with my co-founder and eventually our CEO that we brought on, it’s been like going to business school for me. But in reality, I’ve been performing for the company in the same way for about four years. Last year, we decided to bring on a seasoned COO on Stephanie riffle who came from chewy.com and helped grow that company from not using their own warehouse to having 13. It was the first time in my career that I’ve had to let go of all these processes and operations things that I own. It was very eyeopening for me just to be able to work with somebody, to help explain your work, but then half the trust that they’re going to leave the company to the next level and utilizing their expertise you know, I’ve, I’ve listened to podcasts. I’ve tried to get advice from other co-founders who have had to struggle letting their baby go from this toddler to now being a young adult and for somebody else to take ownership of them. And it’s definitely been a struggle, but something that has helped me grow as professional. And now, as I hone in on to a much smaller department that I owned at the beginning, but still having all this responsibility to help grow the company, I’ve learned a lot on how to delegate out work, how to help coach and empower others to help grow my company.
Gene Hammett: I want to ask you one final question on this. We’ve talked a lot about your executive team. I’m assuming they’re a high-performing team and I’m sure you’re proud of them. They’re always evolving. What are your keys to finding the alignment that you need within your team or within your COO relationship? That allows the company continues to grow.
Daniel Catullo: We need those, those specs, especially on the senior leadership too. We need those that when they see a problem. They’re not afraid to raise their hand whether or not it’s their department. If I’m on afraid to say I see an issue here, whether it be in sales, engineering, operations strategy, wherever I need those that are part of my team, the part of this partnership. That can do the same, that aren’t afraid to raise their hand and say, Hey, Danny, I see an issue with your team and we need to make some changes if we’re going to keep going. So those that have that ability to raise their hand and give feedback and have actual data, and the reason behind it, we’re going to get along very well. I need that so that we could be able to grow because that’s the goal. Our goal is the growth of the company.
Gene Hammett: Danny, we’ve been doing, talking about, you know, this customer experience that you are so proud of and really getting your team to take ownership of that. Is there anything we’ve left out that you feel like is important for audience to know about getting that customer experience right? As the company continues to grow from, from wherever it is to this next level?
Daniel Catullo: Yeah. No, in our industry, it’s, it’s relatively new to be shipping food online. I’ve happened to be doing it for a long time. Sort of locked my way into it from coming from a small business that was in food. But even so like the industry’s relatively new, there’s a lot more things happening that are changing the way that we’re doing this work.
I think it’s important for us as a company. And for those that start-up companies that are in relatively new sectors to not be afraid to educate your clients on best practices and worry that they’re going to leave you and work with somebody else on what they learned from you. So we’ve been very transparent from the initial sales call to their life of us as a company, to working with us as a company. We’re giving them a lot of information that they could take and bring it to somebody else that they wanted to, but we believe we’re their right partner when it comes to strategy and growth and we need to be comfortable and confident that we can give them those best practices. And they’re not going to take that information with them.
Gene Hammett: Love all of this, Danny, appreciate you being here on the show, sharing your journey of leadership and wisdom.
Daniel Catullo: Thank you for having me.
Gene Hammett: So I want to wrap up here. Danny’s probably still listening in, but what you just heard was a conversation with is a co-founder who understands the importance, finding, people that can be empowered and will take ownership of the work because he wouldn’t reach the point of scale that he has today, where they’re doing over a thousand percent, every three years, probably even faster that in some cases, but that level of chaos requires special leadership and special understanding of people. Now, I say all this, because I work with leaders just like Danny all the time. And if you want to know what your next step is as a leader, you want to be an extraordinary leader. You want to create a culture that goes beyond you and you want to increase the value of your company. I’d love for you to reach out.
I’d love to have a chat with you and create a game plan for this absolutely free, no cost to you. But I’d love to just figure out where your blind spots are so that you can create that game plan and move forward with confidence. Just go to GeneHammett.com. Schedule your call when you’re ready. If you want to grow your company, keep listening to Growth Think Tank, but we talked about growth, leadership, and culture as always lead with courage. Will 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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