Big Time Small Business
Summary: The Big Time Small Business podcast shines a spotlight on the small businesses you see every day but don't hear enough about. I interview small business owners, operators, and founders to talk about the obstacles they have faced, the successes they have earned, and where their business is going to inspire and inform you in your own career. Episodes will be published bi-weekly on Friday afternoons.
On this episode, I speak with Owen McCarthy, Co-founder and President of MedRhythms, a Maine-based digital therapeutics company that uses music to help drive clinical outcomes for people following neuro injury or disease. The idea for the company was born when Owen's co-founder, Brian, utilized auditory techniques as a clinician at Spaulding Rehab to help people recover from walking deficits twice as fast as traditional physical therapy. Now, MedRhythms is working towards FDA approval so they can reach patients across the globe. Owen talks about what it's like to lead a start-up where failing fast and failing cheap is not an option when it comes to patient health, but staying nimble and moving fast is still crucial to success.
On this episode, I talk to Paul Stringer, owner of DHM Landscaping, a commercial maintenance landscaping company in Phoenix Arizona. Paul purchased DHM almost three years ago with the idea of putting his tech and marketing experience to work in a company of his own. His focus on delighting the customer with technology and service far above what is considered normal in the industry has propelled DHM to grow upwards of 45% per year. Paul admits those rates are unsustainable indefinitely but remains committed to investing in his team and in technology to stay ahead of the competition.
On this episode, I speak with James Morin, co-owner and COO of Flowfold, an outdoor company that makes minimalist gear for everyday adventures. James admits to initially selling wallets for beer money for almost five years while he and his partners prototyped their designs and raised some seed money, before going full time three years ago. Since that time, they have been near doubling sales annually, thanks in part to collaborations with companies like LL Bean and entering international markets as far away as Japan. Now, with revenues in the low 7-figures, James and his co-owners have their sights set on hitting $10 million in the next five years.
On this episode I speak with Jeff Small, founder of Strategic Media, a radio advertising company based in Maine that has a client list featuring the likes of Vistaprint, FanDuel, and eharmony. Jeff has built the company around a core competency in traditional radio and his company has doubled over the last five years thanks to that focus. Now, Jeff is looking out to 2025 with two goals in mind: to build expertise and business in the exponentially growing podcast sector and to donate $1 million dollars to local charities–the combination of which give Jeff and his team both purpose and drive.
On this episode, I speak with Phil Coupe, Co-founder of ReVision Energy, a full-service renewable energy contracting company in Maine that was ranked the #1 in New England – and #14 nationally – for rooftop solar in 2016. Started in 2003 by two guys in a garage, Phil and his partners have grown ReVision to a 250-employee company spanning five locations in three states. In 2017, Revision sold itself to its employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) so we dive deep into this program, the founders’ reasons for pursuing it, and why they think it will set the company up for the next 100 years.We are taking a short break for the holidays. The podcast will continue on January 11th.
On this episode, I speak with Peter Handy, CEO of Bristol Seafood, a seafood processing and distribution company. Originally a research analyst on Wall Street, Peter bought Bristol four years ago and spent the first two learning the business under the previous owner before taking over as CEO in 2016. Since then, Peter has focused on adding talent to the organization and putting in processes that will allow the company to “go fast.” Peter is on a mission to make seafood America’s favorite protein and he shares what the past four years have been like as a 32 year-old CEO of a small seafood company in Maine with large ambitions.
On this episode, I speak with Jeff Buckwalter, CEO of The Holy Donut, a Portland, Maine based retail and wholesale donut company whose hand-cut, hand-glazed potato donuts have developed a crazed following both locally and beyond. With demand far exceeding supply for his donuts and persistent inquiries for expansion and even franchising, Jeff talks about his efforts to build the infrastructure necessary to support a growing company, the value of trust and accountability in developing his workforce, and the importance of conflict in a healthy organization.
On this episode, I speak with Colin Campbell, founder and CEO of Stratosphere Consulting, a national consulting company with an expertise in case management which made it to #488 on the INC 5,000 list thanks to their 1,000% growth over the past three years. Operating as an entirely distributed company with no corporate office, Stratosphere has doubled their workforce for the past three years in a row.Colin shares what it is like managing what he calls “constant organizational change management” in such a fast-growing company, how he works on the businesses while still staying relevant to those working in the business, and his thoughts on process improvement in small businesses.
On this episode, I talk with Bob Smith, owner of Sebasco Harbor Resort, a 405-acre seasonal family vacation destination located on the coast of Southern Maine. The self-proclaimed Keeper of the Lighthouse – a title in homage to his promise to preserve the 90-year legacy that came before him – Bob has spent his 21 years as owner setting the resort up to last another 90 years.Bob shares what it was like to live through the Financial Crisis – a setback that he is only now, some 11 years later, completely through–and his three-legged vision for the property to attract a long-term employer and build a residential community to complement the resort and its amenities.
On this episode, I talk with Bob Garver, co-founder of Wicked Joe, a wholesale roasting company and Bard Coffee, a retail coffee shop both located in Maine. After falling in love with the connections coffee can foster as an Army Captain stationed in Turkey, Bob has spent the past quarter-century sourcing, roasting, and brewing the best coffees he can find from around the world.From living on a boat with no kitchen or bathroom and plowing driveways on the side for supplemental income, Bob has remained focused on two things: relentlessly iterating on the perfect cup of coffee and positively impacting the entire coffee supply chain. Whether it is blind taste tests on every batch of coffee produced or subsidizing farm expansion and community development at origin, Bob and his team continually strive to instill best practices throughout the organization.
On this episode I talk with Mary Allen Lindemann, co-founder and community builder of Coffee By Design ("CBD" if you are a local), a Maine-based community coffee house and wholesale roastery that will roast over 550,000 pounds of coffee this year. Approaching their 25th anniversary, CBD has been through three waves of coffeehouse competition and has learned how to start, grow, and sustain a successful organization along the way.Mary Allen is steadfast in her company's commitment to steady, sustainable, and responsible growth – to the point where she says "No" more than "Yes" and is comfortable no longer being the first in an effort to be the best. She engages in a level of honest introspection only an entrepreneur of her tenure could accomplish and has sustained an enthusiasm for her business that is emblematic of a mission-driven founder. Questions, comments, or know someone who would be great on the Big Time Small Business podcast? E-mail in at firstname.lastname@example.org
On this episode, I talk with Luke Livingston, founder of Baxter Brewing, a craft brewery that has grown to the third largest brewer by volume in Maine since its founding 8 years ago. Once the 16th brewery license in the state, Baxter was the first in New England to produce beer exclusively in a can or a keg — in part for the environmental benefits and in part to serve its mission of accessibility and portability. Luke talks about competition as an incumbent in an industry that locally is seeing supply outstrip demand and his company's focus on product consistency to serve its growth ambitions which include exporting to the UK and Canada
On this episode, I talk to Barrett Takesian, founder and executive director of Portland Community Squash, a nonprofit focused on community engagement and youth development in Portland, Maine. Over the past 6 years, Barrett has pioneered a hybrid business model that blends a for-profit division into a nonprofit structure and in 2017 was recognized as the United States Olympic Committee Development Coach of the Year for his work in growing the sport of squash.Barrett and I talk about what it’s like developing human capital as a precursor to financial capital, the entrepreneurial struggles of starting an untested business model from scratch, and his focus on sustaining PCS’ mission for the next 100 years.
On this episode, I talk with Seth Page, co-founder of Misfit Athletics, a fitness company that does everything from operating CrossFit gyms to running an apparel brand, to remote coaching for high-level Crossfit Games athletes and everything in between. Since starting their business from a garage gym almost 10 years ago, MisFit Athletics has grown to a tribe (their term) of 40,000 'MisFits' who look to Seth and his team to help them get healthy, fit, and engage with a community of like-minded people. For those that follow the sport of CrossFit, you can see their athletes all over the competition floor with multiples more in the stands (just look for the purple).I talk with Seth about what has made MisFit Athletics so sought after by competitive athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike, how growth forced Seth to change how work gets done and decisions get made, and the similarities (and differences) between being a coach and being a boss. Questions, comments, or know someone who would be great on the Big Time Small Business podcast? E-mail in at email@example.com
On this episode, I speak with John Rooks, co-founder and CEO of Rapport, a software-as-a-service company helping small and medium-sized businesses capture and quantify their environmental footprint while saving them money along the way. Since winning an investment from Steve Case during his Rise of the Rest tour, Rapport is on a mission to democratize sustainability. I talk with John about one of my favorite topics, authenticity, through the lens of a data-centric software company, how blockchain has made its way into the sustainability space (you read that right), and the outlook for sustainable business models in a post-consumerism world.