Fourth-generation cane maker Thomas Williams of McClellanville, South Carolina, has talent. He creates Gullah-inspired walking sticks that range from a simple one-color cane...
Scribble: How to build a successful company culture
Many enthusiasts dream of starting a business around their obsessions. Greg Higgs is one entrepreneur who actually did it. Already a junkie for vehicles at an early age, Greg laid the groundwork for Fab Fours as a child by developing his skills as an artist. He went on to connect with a local welder who would make Greg’s first custom automobile part. After unlikely beginnings in Jakarta, Indonesia, Greg founded Fab Fours. Today, after building the wildly successful vehicle customization and outdoor lifestyle company, Greg provides the “creative force and product DNA that goes into all of Fab Fours’ products.” Greg and Fab Fours maintain a strong emphasis on progressive design concepts, quality American-made products, and on-time delivery.
In this interview, Greg talks about the cultural challenges behind scaling a company — detailing hiring from within vs. outside the company, maintaining culture as you grow, and the effects culture can have on day-to-day operations. Greg also dives into his philosophy on product design, managing competition, and advice for enthusiasts planning to start their own companies.
Greg drills into how to build a successful company culture. It's something he's worked incredibly hard to create and maintain as his company has scaled. He failed many times when trying to find high-level staff for Fab Fours. From Fortune 500 CEOs to Army Rangers, Greg tried everything to find someone who could run his company but was also a good cultural fit. Eventually landing on the idea of hiring from within, Greg found his cultural match. Greg has implemented practices like company-wide profit-sharing, even pizza parties – to fight cultural influences that could hurt his manufacturing process and literally pass issues down the line.
As a designer, Greg drew inspiration from his life as an enthusiast. When he was young, he tore through product catalogs and magazines, admiring the "fringe" aesthetics. When the time came for Greg to bring his own ideas to reality, he wanted to create products he knew had never existed before. Enter products like the "grumper," a grill-bumper combination. Now, Greg's ideas and designs are being replicated by other companies; his personal style and taste, which he imparts to his products, are becoming more and more popular as Fab Fours grows.
Greg tells us a story from when his business was young and he sat down with one of the big players in the outdoor automotive aftermarket. During that meeting, he challenged the established brand on many aspects of its business practices — distribution issues, low-quality instructions, missing parts. In time, as Greg's business grew, he experienced many of the same challenges. Greg says scaling brings about a number of problems he thought would never happen to him. Greg describes the importance of identifying and acknowledging these issues and doubling down on process and procedure.
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