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2020 OTG CEO Year In Review

2020.

At the beginning of the year, I thought it was interesting the numbers resembled a “perfect vision” score. We had just come off of a 3.3x growth year and the future looked promising entering my 3rd year as CEO of Off The Grid.

I can’t help but remember the winter of 2017/2018, Josh was working full-time as the head men’s designer at prAna (feels awkward to capitalize the A but that is how they do it), it was then when we just finished the Indiegogo campaign for the first round of Trailblazer Pants.

At this time, I ran the marketing as a contractor for OTG and we sold out those pants in 6 weeks. It was then when I decided to partner with Josh and help him grow this business and I knew that the only way that could happen is if I was “ALL IN.” I had been running a marketing agency and had to call over 20 clients and several other partnerships to let them know I was firing them to go run another company.

Josh was working his butt off in his “corporate job” and then came home and would complete the work required for OTG. This went on for 9 months and almost ended us. It was at this time I asked him to quit his job, which ended his 401k, his bi-weekly paycheck, and his safety net.

We were now both on the shore of the island, boats burning in the background, and now there was only one option for us… to take the island.

I have never once looked back and said to myself, well that was a mistake. Even after this year, I have not thought of it, even once.

This year has brought significant meaning to what we are doing here, but it hasn’t come easy.

I decided to create a “year-at-a-glance”  bulleted list to share our 2020.

  • Changed website platforms to Shopify Plus, taking on a significantly higher expense but what would allow for a much better user experience for our customers, which includes a wholesale portal for b2b purchases.
  • Hired our first full-time contractor, Patrick, to help with financial management.
  • Decided to change our 3rd party fulfillment from a company in Chino, CA to a company in Utah. Every OTG item was packed up and sent to the new warehouse, but then sat on pallets for a month while the new company was sold to another company (we were never told this was happening). We didn’t ship for over a month in a half. This almost ended us.
  • Decided to go with the company that the Utah fulfillment was sold to. Our goods were shipped to Las Vegas, NV. COVID shutdown hits. Shipping delays, uncertainty, etc. Thank God we are an online company.
  • Signed a three-year lease on our first brick & mortar shop on Grand Ave. in Escondido, CA which we call Bravo Hotel (long story). We built out an office in the far left corner of the footprint, which we call “the bunker”, this is where Josh and I work every day.
  • Hired an outside marketing agency, then fired them.
  • Hired Ashmir to help with customer service. She has been an amazing addition to the team allowing for better communication between OTG and our customers, which will always be our #1 priority.
  • Built out a V8 4th Gen 4Runner with the help of Milestar Tires, Freespirit Recreation, Goose Gear, Dometic, CBI Offroad Fab, Bent Motorsports, EvoCorse via Main Line Overland and YotaMafia.
  • We took over eCommerce fulfillment and built them a new website sales portal for C.O.R.V.A. after the unexpected passing of Steve Gardiner, who was doing this for them. We do this for them at cost, a unique way we can help keep California's OHV trails open.
  • We hired another full-time employee, Lauren. She runs the shop for us among an entire laundry list of to-dos. At this point we don’t really know what we would do without her.
  • We bought a 1948 Willys CJ-2A to display in the front window of the shop. We love the story of how this WWII vehicle turned into the Jeep brand we know today. I am inspired every time I look at it with where OTG can be in future years.
  • Partnered with Ultra4 Driver, Bailey Campbell, for our first ever Cut-N-Sew women’s items, a flannel and a pair of pants (coming Feb 2021).
  • For the first time ever, the Havok Shorts became our best-seller, topping our Trailblazer Pants in the summer months.
  • After continuous delays from our new fulfillment partners, we changed… again. This time to a local smaller fulfillment company in Miramar, CA. The jury is still out on whether or not this was the right move, but at least our product is now only 23 miles south of our new shop.
  • Hired a new Tech Designer Contractor named Julie, who has an impressive resume and has been an immense help to Josh. 
  • We also started working with a fit model agency through which we hire fit models to fit every new cut n' sew product. We know our fit has been hit and miss so we are investing heavily in this side of the production process. 
  • We came up with a vision statement, “We exist to support and inspire connection through adventure.” This is our 3rd or 4th edit, but we feel like we are really close. The clothes are what we do, this statement is why we do it.
  • Created the OTG Brigade closed Facebook group, available for purchasers only. Quickly recruited over 1,100 members. This is Josh and I’s favorite social media channel right now and we are very active in it. Josh typically posts as himself; I post as OTG.
  • Hired a second marketing agency, I think we will keep this one.
  • 2020 YoY Growth: 113%

We also launched the following products this year.

While this seemed to be the most difficult year yet: moving 3rd Party Fulfillment locations three times and having to fight through shipping delays, lost packages and COVID-related requirements at the shop, we still had a great year. Of course, this is how we choose to look at it. We are laying the groundwork for an amazing 2021, with some very targeted initiatives, including new products, content creation, big & tall and more COMMUNITY...hopefully, in-person!

A huge thank you for all of you that are so gracious with us as we grow. We are not perfect by any means, and we will make mistakes, but our vision is clearer more than ever.

We are committed to serving you the best way possible, some changes will take time, but we will get there.

Bobby Klein
CEO
Off The Grid Surplus
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