Brian Frank is the CEO and Owner of Hammer Nutrition and he shares his vision, passion and things that help him “Make it Work in Montana”
Learn all about Hammer Nutrition here: www.hammernutrition.com
Brian shares about company culture, 35 years of successful business, and the foundation of healthy endurance racing. Brian is extremely committed to his vision and the core values that have made Hammer Nutrition successful. Brian believes in providing free education of how to fuel your body, and generous support to the community of athletes on ultimately establishing a family of clients and employees seeking a common goal.
Check out this podcast for 45 minutes of this, and we could have spoken much longer!
Guest host Maria Phelps, an avid Montana Triathlete!
Making it Work in Montana – Ep 13 – Brian Frank
Speaker1: [00:00:02] Welcome. For as long as I can remember, over the last several decades, I always see the product from today’s guest on display or being utilized at popular athletic events. The products have become a staple in the hands of endurance performance athletes. Our guest today is Brian Frank, the owner and man in charge of Hammer Nutrition located right here in Whitefish, Montana. Welcome, Brian.
Speaker2: [00:00:29] Hey, David. Thank you for having me on. It’s an honor.
Speaker1: [00:00:33] Also today, I am joined by guest co-host who heard I was interviewing Brian and she has her own podcast as well and is a mom, a triathlete and co-owner of our business Black Diamond Mortgage. And in general is all in on all things endurance, health and fitness. And we have today Maria Phelps.
Speaker3: [00:00:56] Glad to be here. Super excited. Thanks, guys.
Speaker1: [00:01:00] Yeah, my name is David Boye, the host of Making It Work in Montana. This is our 13th episode and we seek to highlight the interesting stories of folks doing just as our handle says, making it work in Montana and all that the concept represents. So any time reach out to us with great people or stories that we should be talking about. On making it work in Montana. Now, Brian, I always like to begin the episodes with just kind of an overview of your life leading up to becoming established as we kind of see you today here, running your businesses or your business in Flathead County. So could you just give us an overview of like where it all began and how you ended up running Hammer Nutrition here in Whitefish, Montana?
Speaker2: [00:01:50] Sure, David. I’d be happy to. If we go back to the very beginning, I was born at home in the Hollywood Hills in 1967. No doctors or midwife present, just my dad and my sisters and my mom. And we were granola. Way before it was hip. I grew up, went to a free school, drove around the United States in a Volkswagen van with my sisters and our giant German shepherd, Orpheus. And we only ate what today is considered healthy Whole Foods. Nothing came from a package. And my mom used to go on about white death. No white death in our house. Refined sugar. Refined wheat. Refined dairy products. Not allowed. So my background was somewhat unusual, I think, in that regard. And it shaped a lot of. What I did as an athlete in the scholastic years and in college and since then, and led me to start Hammer Nutrition in 1987 after I dropped out of college. Because it was time to start a business, not spend 2 to 4 more years talking about business. There was a very opportune time in the eighties when yuppies had discovered the sport of triathlon and there was no schedules or internet or anything like that. So everybody had a day planner and that day planner started at 4:00 in the morning and included swimming before work, running at lunch, cycling after. These triathletes were just training themselves into the ground. And on top of it, the experts of the day. We’re telling them that they didn’t need protein. All they needed was carbohydrates, and the more, the better. So we’d have clients eating a loaf of bread after a long ride and avoiding protein because they didn’t want to become muscle bound like a bodybuilder. So they’re wasting away, not able to recover. And I’m looking at these guys. From the sidelines in Kona for one of the first Ironman in 84. And I’m thinking to myself, these people are some kind of crazy, but they need help. They need they need help. They need better products to help them with their energy, endurance and recovery.
Speaker1: [00:04:20] Brian. That reminds me of a poster I’ve seen of bike racers in Europe with cigarettes in their hands. More extreme.
Speaker2: [00:04:29] Well, that I mean, that’s another tangent back in the day. You know, they thought that having a cigarette at the base of a big climb would open up your lungs and help you climb better. But then again, back in those days, they also drank wine and consumed amphetamines and barbiturates and and things like that to numb the pain. It was really, you know, back in the old days of cycling, it was kind of like the old days of horse racing where just anything you could do to make them faster was fine. Unfortunately, they started. Keeling over and dying of heart attacks and things like that from all the things that they were doing, which also sort of our story includes a little bit of the doping era. We started selling a natural coenzyme in 1987, and then the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea, saw Ben Johnson setting Olympic record and world record in the hundred meter. And then subsequently testing positive? Well, actually, he’d been testing positive for quite some time, but one of the Korean lab officials leaked it to the press. So the story went public. And that was the first doping scandal that I’m aware of ever in athletics. So very shortly after that, you know, the joke was, oh, these pills, which were just coenzyme Q10 and other antioxidants and micronutrients, are these steroids? Are these going to make me look like Ben Johnson? So we’ve in addition to the naysayers in the skeptic community who said that this was just snake oil and I was just a huckster. 35 years later, Coenzyme Q10 is the third most popular over-the-counter supplement in the world and has several thousand studies confirming its efficacy and its ability to increase cardiac output, stroke volume and pretty much everything else related to life itself. So maybe that’s why we’re still here celebrating 35 years.
Speaker1: [00:06:44] And ironic turn of events, but very interesting. I didn’t know that whole piece. I kind of interrupted you and you were talking about how you led from, you know, avoiding processed sugars and getting into the foundation of what makes hammer. Hammer. So you can definitely keep going with with that.
Speaker2: [00:07:04] Thank you. I will. So then I had to grow up because we were talking about life in the Hollywood Hills and the sixties and early seventies and then. I started getting interested in sports, mainly BMX and motocross. My dad bought me my first motorcycle just before my fifth birthday, much to my mom’s chagrin. And I started writing every day pretty much from the time I was four or five years old. You could find me on a bicycle, a skateboard or a motorcycle. Pretty much any waking moment. And it was it was also good that we went I went to a free school so I could bring my bike and motorcycle to school and I could ride there instead of going to class. But that’s another story. Catching rattlesnakes was also a favorite pastime at school instead of reading, writing and arithmetic. Then my mom’s fourth husband. Just in 1979 had excuse me, 1976 had just accepted. The position is the assistant director of the Peace Corps in Chad, Central Africa. So we picked up and moved from our cushy middle class, Southern California life and landed in Central Africa in one of the poorest countries in the world. That was very formative. Those three years that I was there, I learned to speak French. I learned most of what I know about life in the streets of N’Djamena, in the capital of Chad.
Speaker2: [00:08:41] And then we went to school one morning and civil war came to town and. Survived that and got out and came back to Southern California in 1979 and went to junior high and high school and resumed my love of wheels participating in motocross, BMX, things like that. In high school, I knew I needed to be fitter. So I joined the water polo team, which was in the fall, and then swim team in the spring at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. Perennial powerhouse, five times consecutive CAF champions. We were expected to win. And to win, you had to spend 5 hours a day in the pool swimming. So doing that, plus honors classes and maintaining a 3.9 GPA took a little more than bread and water, as they say. So I was using massive amounts of coenzyme Q10 and the other micronutrients that we would end up selling and becoming our first product. So I guess I was the first guinea pig, as it were. As a scholastic athlete, I knew very well I could maintain my training schedule and I could do everything I needed to do else wise, which was two part time jobs to pay for the racing plus schoolwork.
Speaker2: [00:10:06] If I took all my supplements and I kept my protein intake up and I kept my hydration up, and it seemed to me sort of second nature. I only found out. Later that that’s not how most everybody else does it. And as we talked about before, the triathletes of the old days just focusing on carbohydrates of any kind, simple, complex, didn’t matter. So that was really the the impetus for coming out with the first product with race caps in 1987 and then subsequently. Hundreds of products have flowed since then. In 1995. With one employee. I moved the company from the Bay Area in San Francisco to Whitefish, Montana. And how we ended up in Whitefish, Montana. I can only say that we felt called here. I felt the calling. I just wanted to get out of California. And way back then, in 1995, everybody was like, What do you mean, it’s not that bad? Where are you going? But I was over it. I had lived, you know, elsewhere and traveled throughout the United States in the world. And I decided back then that California was a great place to be from, but not some place I wanted to raise a family or grow a business. So I started looking all throughout the western United States, thought about Oregon, thought about Washington, Idaho, Utah, considered Colorado, figured I was 20, 30 years late on that one.
Speaker2: [00:11:40] And then Whitefish just kept coming to me. People just started talking about it. Family members, friends had visited here. And one of my buddies, I remember him saying after he had spent a summer managing the hotel in St Mary’s, that in coming over to Whitefish every weekend to hang out, he’s like, Whitefish is is the coolest town I’ve ever been to. If I could live anywhere in the world, I’d want to live in Whitefish. I was like, All right, we got to check this out. So my oldest daughter was home schooled at that time in second grade. So we made the study of Whitefish Corps part of her curriculum. We subscribe to the Daily Interlake, which was not daily. I thought that was pretty cool. They had a monday through Friday and a weekend edition. And then, of course, the Whitefish pilot. And they sent my check back because they had had a subscription increase of $1 per year. And on the subscription notice, they had said they wrote a note that said, don’t plan on moving here unless you have a lot of money. So I sent.
Speaker1: [00:12:44] They could say that nowadays, too.
Speaker2: [00:12:45] Right? It’d be just a little more true now than it was before. Yeah. So I sent it back. And we would regale ourselves during school time and even in the evening eating, reading. Ida mae Honeywell’s only brief and.
Speaker3: [00:13:02] Oh, my gosh. Right up in the air.
Speaker2: [00:13:04] Yeah. Ida mae Honeywell. And of course, the most fun was reading the the crime log, because it was more or less, you know, entertainment that they usually read it on the radio because it’s not really crime, it’s more just mischief. And, you know, kids causing trouble and.
Speaker1: [00:13:23] Funny calls into the police department.
Speaker2: [00:13:25] Yeah. Or, you know, somebody was bashing mailboxes along East Edgewood or you know, there was farmer reported some kids doing donuts out in his field, you know, fun stuff like that. So after studying the area and the climate and the geography and everything, I knew this was the place. And I made the first visit here ever in May of 1995. And normally, you know how when you’re going to go someplace, you have a picture in your mind of what it’s going to look like. And then when you get there, it’s nothing like that. This was completely the opposite. I can still remember coming down the hill on 93 into town and seeing the idyllic town, the ski hill in the background, driving down Central Avenue and being like, This is it. We’re here.
Speaker1: [00:14:15] It’s a great memory.
Speaker2: [00:14:16] Absolutely.
Speaker1: [00:14:17] So that’s how you got the white fish. Maria, I think you wanted to ask about that.
Speaker3: [00:14:23] Oh, um, so well, just to kind of backtrack a little tiny bit, when you talked about how you started your company and just the fact that people, triathletes in particular, didn’t really know what the heck to do and they were just doing whatever. I was an athlete in high school, in college, and I ended up becoming really sick. And I got an eating disorder because I didn’t I didn’t have that education. And it was like society put certain parameters on us as athletes and then it was so distorted. So now I’m 39 and I now feel that I have the education piece. And I will say when I go into Glacier Psychiatry and I had questions last summer and it was about some Hammer products, they were super knowledgeable, they knew everything, and they helped me figure out what I needed to do for what I was doing, and that was just really cool. So the education piece is great. So then just to then move forward with coming to Whitefish. So I have interacted with several of your employees and it seems like they all love what they do. So when you brought your company here, you started with one employee. But how long did it take you? Because now you have 40. How long did it take you to get there? And what does your company culture look like?
Speaker2: [00:15:53] Well, thank you for that leading question. To your point. Vanessa, the co-owner of Glacier Cycles, worked at Hammer for some time as a creative designer and also in customer service and client support and things. So she has a very good knowledge base. But we also, to your point, we have always focused on education. It probably has taken with a grain of salt by a lot of people because they figure it’s really just a disguised sales pitch. But the educational content that we provide, which is one of the three foundational components of the brand, is free. And you don’t need to use my products in order to put our fueling protocols and our nutrition guidance to good use. So we have a lot of non-competitive people who are just endurance hikers, peak baggers, you know, somebody want to go into Glacier Park and, you know, hike hard for six, 8 hours. Well, water and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich might work, but there are things that they could do and take along with them that would make it much more enjoyable. So. The culture at Hammer is, I think, is extremely unique. It started back in the day with me alone in the office, answering the phones, doing everything with a singular purpose of helping athletes understand nutrition and how to recover from training and so forth.
Speaker2: [00:17:32] Because that will obviate or necessitate the use of. Products, intelligent products, supplements, proteins, things like that. So. The foundational components of the brand are first and foremost superlative products. Every single product that I’ve developed that I sell. I use personally or my family use them. My children use them growing up. I would not sell a product to anybody that I wouldn’t take myself. So we never cut corners. We’ve had a very strict ingredient policy for three decades. Plus, we avoid using foreign raw materials whenever possible. Everything is quality controlled, triple, quadruple checked on incoming raws, finished goods, etc., etc.. And of course, if it’s something like coffee, we do it right. It’s the best organic coffee you can buy. It’s professionally roasted by one of the best roasters in the country and shipped to you within days of roasting. Anything else we sell will be of similar quality. The second component is. The education. You can have the best products in the world and use them incorrectly and end up not having fun at your triathlon that you’ve trained for all year and invested all this time and energy and money with equipment and training and so forth. We don’t want to see that happening. And again, the education component is the real unique aspect of Hammer because we demystify the whole process of how much to consume, when to consume it, what type of calories to consume.
Speaker2: [00:19:13] None of this vague. Eat a balanced diet. You know, you’re burning a lot of calories, so consume a lot of calories. And the other vague things that unfortunately so-called experts oftentimes tell athletes, which leads to the confusion and the misinformation that you dealt with back in the day. Unfortunately, it’s not a lot better today. Now you’ve got all these different diet types. You’ve got the keto diet, you’ve got the low carb diet, the 40, 30, 30, you’ve got allergies. Everybody has an allergy nowadays. So the landscape as far as diet and nutrition and training for sport has gotten a lot more complicated in the last 35 years, and there’s been a lot more players in the market. But I digress. The third component of the brand is client support. We consider our clients to be extended members of our family. The family group is our staff. And everybody in the company. Has this mindset. We have regular employee appreciation luncheons and all kinds of other things that we do because we live in one of the best places in the world. And life is too short to be working inside a cubicle or in an office with no walls or no windows anywhere, let alone in Whitefish, Montana.
Speaker2: [00:20:43] So the culture is first and foremost. Helping our clients in any way we can. We’re not interested in selling them any more products than they need. But as I often am telling my staff. The unasked question rarely ever gets answered. Number one. And number two, we oftentimes find athletes who don’t know what they need. They know they have a problem. Hey, I cramping up. Every time I cry. I try to go for a long run or ride or a race. I’m cramping up. I need some salt pills. Well, we could send them some salt pills and let them go on their merry way. And I would consider that to be a disservice to that athlete. So we’re going to engage in a process of consultation and discussing with them everything that they’re doing. What are they drinking, what are they eating, how much are they consuming? What is their dietary sodium look like? To discover why it is that they’re cramping because rarely ever is it just a lack of sodium. Most everybody consumes way too much sodium every day. So the athlete who calls up cramping saying they, you know, that they need a supplement or a salt pill to fix it. Normally we’re going back and we’re talking about the pre-race meal or the pre event meal and what they’re consuming beforehand because that’s going to affect hydration and cramping.
Speaker2: [00:22:09] And we’re talking about their fluid intake. Typically they’re consuming too much, not enough. So we have to deal with all of these issues to get them to a point of where they understand how to prevent themselves cramping in the future. If there’s one or more of our products that would help them along the way, that’s good to know. But our goal, first and foremost, is just to help people sell products separately. Secondly, this is why we tell our staff. Repeatedly that. Profits are simply a side effect of doing good business. So we’re never concerned about the bottom line. If a client has 25 questions and we need to spend an hour on the phone with them going through it all, we will. If a client is doing their first iron distance triathlon and they’ve only ever done a five or six hour triathlon before, that will break down their entire race weekend and what they want to do night before morning of before they get in the water in T1, so on and so forth, so that we can take the guesswork out. My belief is that an informed, educated athlete is going to be a good client and is going to want to buy our products.
Speaker1: [00:23:26] Nice. So I kind of hear you saying client and employee experience is everything in the foundation of the company.
Speaker2: [00:23:34] Most definitely. In fact, that’s pretty much all I focus on is user experience and. People might think it’s maniacal after 35 years, but I review and I see every single bit of feedback that we get. It doesn’t matter how it comes in, whether it’s a message or a private message on a social media platform and email in to support a phone call. We fastidiously aggregate all of the feedback we get and we pore over it because as far as I’m concerned, nobody knows better what we should be doing or could be doing than our clients.
Speaker1: [00:24:15] All right. I’m going to throw you a curveball question, and it’ll be interesting to hear what you have to say. So I was thinking if I were you and I owned this company and the way you described it as amazing, it’s I feel more intrigued just having sat here with you for a few minutes, and I’ve known about your company for a long time, but I was thinking, okay, this would be my pinnacle moment if I were the CEOs. I go to the Tour de France and I’m standing on up to us and the cyclist comes by and he he does a hammer gel and he flings it off and it hits me in the head. And I’m standing there and going, Oh, my gosh, like the leading cyclist consumed my product. I’m so in your mind, what’s the coolest thing that’s happened so far? Like you’ve got 35 years of putting this product out, the knowledge out, people are using it, learning from it. Name a couple of cool highlights. Things that you’ve gotten to see over the years with. Yeah, just wherever you go with that kind of an experience that you’ve been able to have as a as a company owner.
Speaker2: [00:25:19] Well, I wrote about that actually in the current issue of endurance news, we have our own magazine that we’ve been publishing for 30 years now. I used to write every word of it, now 68 pages with a lot of contributor content. I still author a fair bit of it. And of course, I have my welcome letter. And I spoke about that because we are celebrating our 35th year and there have been some significant milestones. Mainly, some of the people that I started first started sponsoring in 1987, 1988, who were taught masters athletes at the time are now octogenarians are now in their eighties and they’re still going and they’re still at the top of the sport in their age category, of course. So we’re talking about people like Bill Riley and Jeff cutting back some of the original dominant age group triathletes that won national championships, world championships, Ironman championships in three, four age groups, just incompletely dominant with their fueling. Obviously, they had all that right there training, no problem there. And the genetic gifting. You put all three of those together and you have a world class athlete with very good durability. But what my point was is that to this day, I still the biggest win for me, the biggest. A smile on my face is when I’m talking to an average person, a client off the street who has had an epiphany, they thought.
Speaker2: [00:26:57] Cramps, stomach upset, GI distress. This was just part of endurance sports because it’s so extreme, right? And if you’re going to go run 100 miles in the woods, it’s an odyssey. You should expect all those things to happen. Well, it doesn’t actually have to happen that way. You can do a 24 hour trail race with no cramps, no GI distress. Sure, your legs are going to get tired and your mind might be wandering a little bit, but no fueling issues. And so for me, that story of. Being lost in the wilderness. Finding the products, more importantly, finding the educational material of how to fuel your body in a complimentary fashion. And then this the outcome, the success. Maybe they didn’t win the race. I don’t care. They won. They performed to the best of their ability, what their fitness would allow. And so, like I said, for me, it doesn’t matter whether that happened, you know, in a conversation with an athlete 30 years ago or yesterday. And speaking of which, my probably the biggest lamentation I have at this point is that I get occupied doing so many other things that I’m not able to be on the phones because I would actually prefer to talk to clients all day, then deal with whatever it is I deal with.
Speaker1: [00:28:19] The woes of running a business, which you’ve done a great job of, but it always is going right. Hey, Maria is a triathlete, and I believe she would like to ask you a question.
Speaker3: [00:28:31] Yeah, I just want to compliment you guys, because actually part of my journey was some of the education that I read through the endurance news and and just learning about myself and what my body could do, because there is that perception that it is just a salt tablet or I’m always going to have GI issues with my endurance runs, but that is just BS because now since I have learned I rarely have those problems, rarely. And it’s really great. And I do use several of the Hammer products and just so thank you, thank you for that education. But you guys have a lot of products. So, you know, as a triathlete, like where do we start and how do you you say that you have your employees talk to clients and you’re able to have that consultation. But but where do you start? Like, do you just do a questionnaire? And then they kind of plug in the places to start because like you said, you have hundreds of products.
Speaker2: [00:29:40] Well, thank you for the compliment. And yes, it can appear to be overwhelming. And we oftentimes hear people, you know, I’ve heard so much about Hammer. And then I went to the website and I was immediately overwhelmed by the plethora and variety of products that you offer. And keep in mind, we started out before there was the Internet. So if somebody wanted information, they had to call you or you had to send them something in the mail. Our website is very robust and it has a lot of educational content and a lot of product descriptions. We also have a start here button that a person can go to and it’ll give them the important literature things to start off the getting started literature about fueling. Right. So you can feel great. Our guiding philosophy is less as best. Most of the time we see athletes and I’m writing about this right now for high school athletes over consuming everything. They’ve decided that this event that they’re doing is the most challenging thing their body has ever encountered. And they have to fill it full of calories and fluids and electrolytes in order to be able to accomplish this feat. Not so much. So. If a person is inclined.
Speaker2: [00:31:02] Obviously the easiest thing to do is to call and speak with with us. And so we can go through a process and discover what their needs are and what products might suit them best. And we’ll give them a curated list of products in a prioritized order. You can also do that through the website if you’re a self learner self-starter by going to the start here button. Product wise, you know, there’s a very clear distinction pretty much between the hammer products and every other product on the market. The first three ingredients that you find in Gatorade and most every other sports drink that has ever been produced since then are sugar, citric acid and salt. And in the sixties, when Gatorade introduced this formula, it was revolutionary because up until that time, athletes were just drinking water. I would argue in the last 60 years we’ve learned a few things and we understand better how to fuel the body and the problems that this sugar, salt, citric acid paradigm creates over a long period of time. Somebody want to go out and exercise for 30 minutes or an hour. They probably don’t really need anything. But if they use any of your typical sugar, citric acid, salt, sports drinks, it’s fine.
Speaker2: [00:32:21] When you go over 3 hours. That’s when the wheels start to come off. And that’s usually the journey of discovery for most endurance athletes. Oh, I did a half marathon and, you know, under 2 hours it was fine. I had a good time. Now I signed up for a marathon. Now I’m going to do 26.2. I won’t be out there for 4 hours. It’s just like doing two halves back to back, right? Not really. Everybody in the room who’s done a marathon is laughing, and that’s when people discover, wait. I can’t just drink this stuff all day long, especially again for Iron Man. Most people usually don’t even make it through the bike, if that’s all they’re fueling with. But what do I use in its place? What is out there? I don’t know. So they go on this journey and they find us and we don’t use citric acid. We don’t put excessive sodium in any of our products. And we absolutely do not add any refined sugars. Sucrose, fructose, glucose, ISO Maltose, dextrose. If it ends in O.C., I don’t want it in my body. I don’t want it in my product when I’m exercising.
Speaker1: [00:33:36] All right. So two more questions. And the first one is with 35 years of running this business. You’ve obviously I mean, it looks like it’s in the late eighties all the way through 2022. You guys have seen a lot. Like right now, we’re looking over the horizon. Our economy as a nation, you’re like, okay, what’s going to happen next? So what’s the biggest challenge you had to overcome? And and how did you overcome it? You kind of mentioned at the beginning, like right when you came out, there was like a challenge with awareness of what you were doing that had to be overcome. But is there any that stand out that just running a business successfully for 35 years, which is an amazing testimony of a business in and of itself that you can just pass on to people. Did I just completely shock you with the unprepared question?
Speaker2: [00:34:29] Yeah, well, I. I’m not exactly sure what the question is.
Speaker1: [00:34:33] Well, something is a big challenge that you’ve had to overcome running hammer over the 35 years. And because you’ve done it, you’re 35 years in. So what’s something you could pass on to people? Because we’re all we’re all doing that all the time.
Speaker2: [00:34:47] Right. I got it. I got the answer. So. Previously we were going through the kind of the timeline of the company and its growth and trajectory from California to Montana in 95. So when I got to Montana in 1995. I moved here because this is where I wanted to live and raise a family. I gave no consideration to business climate. Any of the issues as far as labor laws or anything like that. So as an aside, when I talked to Chamber and, you know, the state wants to know what they can do to attract more low impact, groovy companies like Hammer Nutrition to the state. I’m like, well, find a CEO or owner who wants to live here and nowhere else and then help them make it work because it certainly has not been easy. And so the answer to your question, what is the biggest challenge that I’ve had to overcome is the challenge that I’m still dealing with today, and that is staffing a company, a global company with sales and distribution in all 50 states and 25 foreign countries from the labor pool in the Flathead Valley. And I often tell people that if I had a crystal ball when I moved to Montana in 1995 and I knew that 15 years late down the road and beyond, I would be struggling to staff 30 people, 40 people in various positions, management and so forth.
Speaker2: [00:36:23] I might have given it a second thought. But I’m sure I would have still made the same decision because after 27 years in Montana, there still is no place else I would want to live. I do travel a lot and that always helps me to remember how great it is to come home. But that is an ongoing challenge. Flathead Valley is a beautiful place, but people don’t usually stay here who’ve grown up here because they want to climb the corporate ladder. Nor do we have a lot of people relocating and moving here who want to be involved in a dynamic. Business like. Hammer So we struggle with everything from entry level warehouse positions. Now, that didn’t used to be a problem. But your middle management, project managers and process managers and things like that is always a challenge. And of course, nowadays we get resumes from all over the country, all over the world. Hey, I’ll work for you by remote. We’re not really a remote company. Everything goes on inside these four walls. We don’t outsource anything. Our creative department is in-house. Our accounting, everything is in-house. And we do that.
Speaker2: [00:37:41] Because we want to have that type of intimate involvement. I do personally in everything that goes on in the company. So having people work by remote. Is really challenging for us because there is so much going on across all the departments, not only with customer service, but with our sponsorship and our event departments. Our main one of our main forms of marketing and client acquisition is through our events sponsorship program. This year, we’ll sponsor over 900 events just in North America and a couple of hundred more around the world. And we’d sponsor differently. Just like with the Whitefish marathon, we’re not just dropping a pallet of product or writing a check and being like, Good luck with that. You know, we’re putting product out on course. We’re doing educational seminars at the Wave. It’s a very involved process, and there’s so much synergy and so much teamwork that goes on inside the office. It’s kind of like a constant incubator. And we have, you know, there’s I’m not aware of very many or any companies where you have an owner founder 35 years on site every day being involved in every aspect of the operation that’s unique. And you got to come to Whitefish to Montana to find it.
Speaker1: [00:39:03] So what I hear you saying is nobody cares more than Brian and Brian really cares. And and we have a similar thing at our company that I think you highlighted, which I think is a montana business operation principle, is you kind of have to expect a little bit of turnover because it’s such a cool place to live and you want everybody to be 100% in on your corporate vision. And I know one way we’ve addressed it and it sounds like it’s probably what you do, too, is I kind of look at each employee as when they come in. I’m hoping that they’re going to leave their position better than they found it, whether they stay for a long time or not. And then also just that, I’m going to try to have the company set up so that that can happen. Like people can come and go in their lives. And then then that vision that we have as owners, we that’s our dream. So we’re going to have to be the ones that keep it going. That’s similar. Hammer.
Speaker2: [00:39:58] Definitely. Absolutely. First, we start off by taking really good care of our family members, of our employees. Our benefit package is probably one of the most generous I’ve seen with the matching for one K and paid time off and vacation holidays and product allotments and. And. And. And. In return, all I expect is 100% effort every day. But again, we the we have a very collegial environment and. Mentoring and the whole mentor protege relationship is something that I have always valued. I had mentors when I was in college and when I was first starting the business. Some of which are still mentors of mine today. And I’ve always sought to mentor. Young employees and we hire employees of all ages. And we generally find that regardless of where they are in their career trajectory. The difference in how we do business, the emphasis on people, on helping people, on our user experience, on our clients, and treating every single one of them just like I would want to be treated if I was a client. That permeates every department and everything we do and I’m coming alongside. And working with our designers and our creative people.
Speaker2: [00:41:28] I’m the copywriter. I’m the original copywriter and helping them to understand and to integrate into our business graphics. We do scientific marketing. Everything we do is for a purpose the font size, the distribution of white space to content, photo imagery, what the athletes are doing. Everything is scripted. And we take this same type of scientific approach to pretty much every department and every aspect we’re trying to test and refine. We’re trying to forever improve every process so that we can have no bad client experiences. People think I’m crazy when they look at our statistics. I mean, we’ll ship 3000 orders in a month and we might have 20 or 25 of them go wrong. And everybody says, hey, statistically, we’re winning. I mean, that’s less than a 10th of a percent, whatever. And I’m saying, yeah, unless you’re one of those 25 clients, right? You didn’t get your product in time for the race that weekend. You didn’t have a good experience. We let you down. We’ll never be able to eliminate every error. And oftentimes it happens in shipping. It’s beyond our control. But that doesn’t mean that that can’t be my goal.
Speaker1: [00:42:52] That’s great. So just looking out into the future to kind of wrap things up. 35 years of business development and success. What’s on the horizon for Hammer? Is there anything that we’re going to see coming up in the next few years or anything you’re working on that you want to talk about? Give us a quick vision and where things are headed.
Speaker2: [00:43:13] Okay. Well, I’m have been doing the same thing for 35 years, and we’re going to keep doing that same thing, which is I consider us to be an innovation company. We have so many products already on offer, but we have so many more products in development. In fact, it’s a challenge for me because I have to slow the development cycle down so that we’re not introducing too many products in any one year. So going forward, we have 2.0 versions of our popular fuels of the hammer gel, the recovery rate, the heat. And Perpetual, which will be without corn maltodextrin. We’ll be using another maltodextrin source. Our CBD line is growing and is one of our is our largest product category at this point. We’ve just finished completely reformulating our body care line. And yes, we make skin care products for athletes that are specific to their needs. Anti chafing, cream, emollient, heavy skin lotions to combat those alligator legs.
Speaker3: [00:44:28] That’s a big deal.
Speaker2: [00:44:31] And so going forward, we’re just going to keep doing what we do. Our message is pure. Our message is simple. Sugar is toxic. You shouldn’t consume it and you shouldn’t have to go on a junk food binge just because you want to go and ride your bike or run or do some type of sporting event. So we’ll continue to refine and develop new products. We’ll continue to seek to educate and inform as many athletes as we can through endurance news, through our endurance news weekly and hopefully someday a podcast. This is my inspiration and I would really like to get that going. And you know, if you do what you love and you love what you do, it’s not work. So I feel exceedingly blessed and fortunate that I’ve been able to do what I do for the last 35 years and enabled me to live in Whitefish, Montana and meet athletes all over the world and help them discover a better way to fuel and a better way to live. Hopefully.
Speaker1: [00:45:41] Well, Brian, thank you. What I heard over this podcast was vision and purpose and well-oiled machine. So I look forward to seeing the future. If you want to come borrow our podcast office for your first Hammer podcast. Come on down. Because we’re we’re just like you. We’re learning and we’re fixing and we’re making things better all the time. And we appreciate you taking a little bit of your time with that. Everything you just said that you do. We very much appreciate the one hour of your time to be on making it work in Montana. So thank you very much for coming down.
Speaker2: [00:46:15] Thank you, David, for having me on. I would look forward to coming back with any invitation.
Speaker3: [00:46:21] Thank you.