PODCAST: Episode 1 – Brian Rist Interview

In this inaugural episode of “Mastermind with Heather Christie,” produced in partnership with Gulfshore Business Magazine, Heather speaks with Brian Rist, founder and CEO of Storm Smart.

As Storm Smart’s flexible hurricane products were gaining interest, Hurricane Charley hit Florida in 2004, and Rist’s products were instantaneously in high demand. As a result, his company embarked on a hiring spree, growing quickly and adding employees faster than Rist and upper-management could keep track.

On the way to lunch one day, Rist saw a Storm Smart truck on the side of the road. Wondering who was driving his company’s truck, he realized that if he didn’t know his own employees, this meant that they, in turn, didn’t know Brian and what he/Storm Smart stood for.

“At the time when we had a huge opportunity to grow, we didn’t like what we were becoming … we found out that our foundation wasn’t really solid.” – Brian Rist

Rapid growth challenged Rist to reassess what was important: growth with questionable quality of service or slowing things down and taking the time to engage employees and make sure they knew the important values of Storm Smart.

Take away: If you slow down and figure out how to take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your customers and your customers will take care of your business.

Here are three things that Brian does to grow his employees:

1. Providing reimbursement for education

2. Offering leadership, personality training conferences

3. Executing peer and management training

“All these things may cost a lot of time and money, but it is worth is because employee retention remains high.” – Brian Rist

Even with successful investment in employees, sometimes our economy poses grave challenges for businesses, big or small. But persistence, even in the toughest of times, is what Brian maintains.

“Businesses don’t fail, people quit.” – Brian Rist

Storm Smart has been in business for 20 years. It is the largest producer of hurricane protection products in America, and it has been recognized by Inc. Magazine four years in a row as one of the fastest growing privately held corporations in the United States.

Learn more about Storm Smart by visiting its website StormSmart.com.

You can also connect with Storm Smart on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.

Connect with Heather Christie below.