Brian White Troublemaker at Herschel Supply
Courage. It’s an overarching theme of this podcast. Brian White radiates it, so naturally he’s always been drawn to companies who have it. The courage to keep the consumers as the focus. The courage to reinvent their businesses. The courage to reinvent himself.
Brian is Herschel Supply’s new Senior Vice President of Global Sales. Our first contact was a lengthy note he wrote me through LinkedIn after I invited him to be on the Troublemakers podcast. As I sat down to write up this blog post, I remembered it and realized I can never top what he wrote in that note. So, here’s Brian’s recounting of some amazing career exploits, and especially why Herschel Supply is the perfect scenario for him.
Steve, the idea of “troublemakers” in business resonates. I’ve been a troublemaker all my life.
I am fortunate to have partnered with great brands over the years: most were renegades. I started The Unlimited Sales Agency in 1997 fresh out of school, and it was a time of change. I used a laptop and urged brands to modernize (The old guard didn’t like it). My first big brands granted me the power to change the business and provided much-needed ground cover considering I was just a young punk living in my Mom’s basement. The brands below were perfect for me. They helped define who I was by representing them.
- Ride Snowboards – A powerful brand played by its own rules and took pride in chilling for #1 spot in every market.
Arnette – A new eyewear brand that much larger competition didn’t see coming. The early days were certifiably insane. The personalities were out of this world and the sales matched.
- Globe – Australian powerhouse footwear brand that partied as hard as they worked.
- Hurley clothing – Surf, Skate and Music rolled up into a cutting-edge apparel brand. Founded by Bob Hurley, who had run the Billabong USA licenses until the deal didn’t work and he radically shifted to his name’s sake.
- Nixon – Action sports answer to the premium teen market. A watch brand that didn’t sell to watch stores, powered my athletes like Danny way, Tony Hawk and two of the best founders in the business.
- Unlimited Sales was an Entrepreneur’s Dream, freedom, support from great brands, and the wind at our back. We won every rep award, national awards from major trade magazines, and even won Toronto Entrepreneur of the year in 2012.
But like all great stories, the world started changing. The success of these troublemaker brands and my high EBITDA business didn’t go unnoticed. Brands started going public and cutting commissions; others were sold to larger companies.
For a while I felt like I had a target on my back. Ride snowboards sold to K2 sports and before the magic faded, I decided to focus on my other brands. Arnette sold to Luxicottica and I exited the business.
Reps and retailers alike thought I was crazy to give up the extensive monthly checks, but for the first time in my life, I was 100% confident. I wanted to focus on the brands I believed in.
I traded my time spent on Arnette to up and coming Nixon. The math made no sense, but it felt right. The business grew from 38K to 3M in record speed. The owners were thoughtful but humble, we were skateboarders and snowboarders in t-shirts and hoodies catching the attention of the Swiss elite and it felt great.
Building brands only to quit when they were acquired was not a good business plan, so in 2013 I moved to California to become a Sales exec with Nixon watches. As VP of Sales we grew the business to its peak performance.
And I guess that’s where my story starts for your podcast. I am fueled by progression and have never been afraid to challenge the status quo. I recently started a new role as SVP of Global Sales for Herschel Supply Co. It’s my perfect scenario – a strong brand widely recognized and positioned for growth. We are already doing amazing things.
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