Molding Box (www.MoldingBox.com) is a Inc. 5000 company based in Salt Lake City, UT that is making a name in the direct-to-consumer fulfillment market. Founder and CEO Jordan Guernsey (@moldingbox), took some time to sit with Ascent Advisor (@ascentadvisor).
Peter Wride – Ascent Advisor: Tell me a little bit about the foundation of Molding Box.
Jordan: I was working for my brother-in-law doing credit card processing and the company grew into product development and call center management. I was put in charge of the fulfillment, managing part of the call center and the normal day-to-day operations, and doing some of the accounting. It got a little bit out of control, and it was at that time that I thought, “I probably shouldn’t be here.” I got the contract to continue to do the fulfillment so I just segmented down and grew it from there.
Ascent: How would you describe what Molding Box does?
Jordan: Warehouse. Package. Ship. It defines really what we do. We warehouse a company’s products, package them, and ship them out. That’s our main goal. We can literally handle almost anything, but our main focus is the warehouse, package, and ship.
Ascent: If it fits in a box, you can handle it.
Ascent: You founded Molding Box in 2005 in your parents’ basement. What’s the vision that you founded it on? Is this what you had envisioned?
Jordan: No, I didn’t really have anything envisioned. I mean that’s the main thing. I don’t want to say dumb luck – but the opportunity was there. I thought, “I will just do this for a while and see how it goes.” After doing it for a while, it kept growing and growing and I thought, “Okay. We’re already making money, we might as well try and make a business out of it.” The vision continues to change as we continue to grow.
Ascent: What is your vision now?
Jordan: We want to become the household name for what we do, which is kind of weird because we’re business to business. We’re huge believers in quality. Getting a quality product, selling on value, and making sure that we really look at relieving that headache from our customers: taking the burden of non-core critical business functions away from our clients and streamlining the whole process to help businesses grow.
We work a lot with the UDOWD people (Utah Defendant Offender Workforce Development), so we get a lot of unique characters through here and it’s more of our “feel good” goal. We really help people transition from a past life to a better life. That’s the kind of cool tie-in vision with everything else.
Ascent: You have been as high as #71 on the Inc 500 list. What are the reasons that you feel like you’ve grown so fast? What has made you stand out?
Jordan: We don’t go after everyone, and we don’t compete on price either. Those are two things that stand out. We take a passion in people’s products and we take a passion in what we are doing and, as stupid as it sounds:
I really like fulfillment.
I really enjoy what we do and building the systems. We use common sense: we’ll answer a phone call when someone calls or we’ll stick to what we say – “weird” ideas that seem to be lacking in our industry.
Along with that, we set clear expectations upfront with our clients and we’re honest with them. We tell them: “Things will mess up and bad things that are going to happen, but we will be there when it happens and we will walk you through that process and we’ll make sure that if it’s our fault we’ll cover it and if it’s your fault we’ll explain why and we’ll make it go forward.” It’s not that you are right and I’m wrong, we’re a partnership.
I think that’s kept all of our clients on board for as long as we have and when we get new clients they have already heard good things about us. That helps with the growth.
Ascent: In 2010, Molding Box was number #71 on the Inc. 5000. What went through your mind when you realized how high you would debut on the list?
Jordan: It was an honor – I love what Inc. does. It was a cool feeling and I still have it on my desk. The overall plan was: How can we bring credibility to the company?
Ascent: In 2009, there were new government regulations that impacted a lot of your customers and forced Molding Box to cut back. What did you do during that time to keep employees engaged?
Jordan: At the same time that was happening, we brought underneath Molding Box a print company, and started pushing a lot more towards print. It was rough, but it cleaned up the industry.
We did do a massive “house cleaning” and we shrunk our staff from like 60 down to like 17. When we did let people go – and we are always open with our clients and employees, we said “This is what happened guys. We would love to be able to do this, but it’s unsustainable.” The people that stuck around have shown that they are in it for the long haul. They bought in with the culture of who we are. We have a great work environment, and all our employees love us as far as I know!
We kept people engaged how we always have: talked with them all the time. I think in management it was me not giving up on the business and just saying, “We’re going to get through this.”
Ascent: You said that you think people had bought into, and continue to buy into the culture. How would you describe the culture here at Molding Box?
Jordan: For us it’s quality. We always say work hard, play hard. We work super hard here.
Because of the diverse people we have here with different backgrounds, anyone can be themselves. We don’t want you to come here and have to pretend to be someone that we are expecting. If you are who you are, we’ll respect you. And if you can show the same respect to everyone, everyone will get along here. This is your second family. You spend every waking moment with them. We really strive to say, “Be who you are, you can be as crazy as you want and have your own personality because that’s going to make you happy, as long as you don’t shut off other people.”
Ascent: Openness is really important to you.
Jordan: Going to sales calls and talking with different clients about different things, everyone wants the same thing: Even if it’s bad, they’d rather know.
I think my home life was a like that a lot; we were very open with everyone. We were really close together because my dad was in the military and we moved a lot. I remember driving across country a couple times with just my family. You’ve GOT to figure out your issues or it’s not gonna happen!
Ascent: What do you do to attract great people to work here?
Jordan: It’s a work in progress. In the past it’s more been like the networking and doing all that – finding the people, putting them up to responsibilities, and then enabling them to do actually do their job. Saying this is what we need, now go and do it. Make the decisions. We expect you to fail at one point or another, but we expect you to tell us about it so we can work through it.
Ascent: What is one thing that you face, or your leadership team faces, that you wish the employees understood better?
Jordan: The overall scope of what their decision does to the entire process. It’s as simple as, “I forgot to click one integer,” or something like that. It’s not a big mistake, but overall if you don’t do this this right or you don’t speak up if you see something wrong it affects everything.
It’s not just that one shipment went out incorrectly, and it’s not just that one cost that went out incorrectly, it’s the customer service time that goes into it, it’s tarnishing our trust with the client. I just want to get that into peoples’ head. Even on the management side it’s hard to really visualize that with so many moving parts.
Ascent: You mentioned earlier that you acquired a print company and recently acquired another company. What are some strategies that you’re excited about or some initiatives that you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?
Jordan: On the print side, a lot of the stuff that we’ve been doing is the full package. Basically you get us content, we can produce it and send it out the door one at a time. That and also we have an online print portal where people can go in and order everything online, manage their collateral, and manage all their branding.
At the end of the day it’s, if we’re going to print something, what is the lead in to get fulfillment? How do we get shipping out of this? What are they using these print materials for? What are they using these CDs for? How do we get that process handled for our clients?
Ascent: Looking out on the horizon for Molding Box, what’s the next hurdle?
Jordan: I think staying on top of technology and defining our processes. How do we define something that’s so incalculable or there are so many variables involved? A lot of people don’t get it. When we go in to talk to clients about a single item they’re trying to send out they are thinking they can do all this by themselves. You can build your processes around your one product and it works out really well for your one product, and you can be really good at it. But then you start adding completely different products with a completely different system, mindset and mentality, and each industry has its own standards.
Yes, they all look similar, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty – we are the nitty-gritty of it – how do you calculate all of that? How do you factor that all in? And then, what is the damage control?
There are going to be mistakes. We know that. We factor that in and we tell our clients upfront: “Something wrong is going to happen, we guarantee that. We won’t guarantee 100%, we will guarantee something is going to go wrong, but we also guarantee that we’ll make it right.”