Tom Duncan, CEO, on Innovating in the Home Improvement Industry
Tom Duncan spent 15 years as the CEO of Positec, the innovative, market-leading power tool company, where he now serves on the board. Tom started the American division of Positec in 2005 and oversaw their successful growth strategy; Positec’s direct to consumer brands, Worx and Rockwell, are two of the fastest growing tool brands in the world. With a wealth of experience leading this challenger brand, Tom has developed an agile and process-oriented approach to hiring.
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDE
- Positec’s formula for success (4:26)
- His “two way street” hiring philosophy (7:33)
- One valuable lesson he’s learned from hiring mistakes (9:27)
- Why process is key (10:10)
- Early hiring challenges during Positec’s rapid growth (12:44)
- How Positec’s global business factored into their talent strategy (15:28)
- The benefits and drawbacks of hiring within your network (17:09)
- Tom’s advice for emerging leaders (27:00)
SHOW TRANSCRIPT – HOW I HIRE PODCAST WITH TOM DUNCAN
[00:00:00] Roy Notowitz: Hello, and welcome to How I Hire. I’m your host, Roy Notowitz, Founder of an executive recruiting and leadership consulting firm called Noto Group, where my team and I have spent the last decade helping to build iconic consumer brands one hire at a time. You can visit us at NotoGroup.com to learn more and if you have a friend or colleague who might be interested in this content, please let them know they can find us on Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Stitcher, and anywhere they get their podcasts.
Tom Duncan is here with me on the podcast today. Tom is an entrepreneur and the former CEO of Positec Tool Corporation, where he currently serves on the board. He spent 15 years at the helm of the innovative company and their successful growth strategy made them market leaders in the home improvement industry. Positec’s direct to consumer brands Worx and Rockwell are a couple of the fastest growing tool brands in the world. After getting his MBA in International Business Studies and becoming proficient in German, Tom worked with Vermont American, which is a part of the Robert Bosch Tool Corporation family, where he would eventually serve as Vice President. Tom left and started the American division of Positec in 2005.
Tom and I will talk about his winning business strategy at Positec and how talent played a key role in helping them achieve amazing success.
Tom, thanks for being here today on the podcast. I really appreciate you taking time out to, uh, share some tips and insights on how you hire.
[00:01:46] Tom Duncan: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to have a conversation.
[00:01:48] Roy Notowitz: Well, I remember we met a few years ago and it’s been a while since I’ve heard your career journey, but can you start by telling us about your career journey and how it led to where you are today?
[00:02:00] Tom Duncan: You know, I guess it’s kind of in two acts. First years of my career was really kind of Fortune 500. I worked for two big companies, Emerson Electric and Bosch, a big German conglomerate. And then I transitioned, really about 15 years ago, to starting kind of a brand business from scratch. Two very different parts to my career. I think the first part was really instrumental in giving me kind of a foundation; all the skills and business skills and financial skills that I needed to take when I really started having to build a business from scratch.
[00:02:32] Roy Notowitz: That’s a big leap to go from a big corporate job to starting, not just any company, but a really successful, very difficult to do, kind of capital intensive business. So what sort of motivated you or drove you to do your own thing after having that corporate experience?
[00:02:49] Tom Duncan: I had acquired the rights to a brand, an old brand that had fallen out of favor called Rockwell. Rockwell had been a big company back in the seventies and eighties, was very active in the tool business, but kind of exited that business and the brand kind of laid fallow for 20 to 25 years. And then really the biggest thing is I met a gentleman named Don Gao who’s a Chinese entrepreneur, had a successful private label business in Europe and he’s such a visionary in a lot of ways, you know, having built his business from what it was. And he really saw the importance of building a brand and having a brand business instead of just being a true private label supplier.
And so our goals aligned in what we were trying to do, and we ended up joining together. And I think that was one of the real watershed moments was meeting Don who really is a true global leader in our industry.
[00:03:42] Roy Notowitz: So prior to starting with that brand, Rockwell, and then Positec, did you have any experience like leading teams, building teams or hiring?
[00:03:52] Tom Duncan: Oh, absolutely. You know, those 15 years I spent in the corporate world really were fundamental in understanding and running a business and understanding your P and L understanding how to hire and what it takes to lead a team . Before I left Bosch, you know, I had hundreds of employees all around the world and a very diverse business that I was running. And so that was really critical to helping me when we decided to get Positec off the ground in the US.
[00:04:18] Roy Notowitz: So tell us about Rockwell, that initial business, and then how it turned into Positec and what is the business strategy and the formula for success?
[00:04:26] Tom Duncan: So we’re a global company. We have over 3000 employees worldwide. We have subsidiaries in most of the major countries and North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia. We just opened recently Middle East and Africa. So a very diversified, global company. Our core business is really making and selling tools and outdoor power equipment.
So lawn mowers, drills, saws, screwdrivers, but recently we’ve expanded into more leisure products like outdoor camping. And products for around the home, really built around a battery pack and anything that will run off this battery pack and can be run off battery power we’re looking to add to our brands.
I would say that, you know, Rockwell is one of our brands that’s a little bit more professional oriented brand. We also have a brand called Worx, W O R X, which is more of a homeowner consumer brand. And we have other professional brands that we’re selling in Europe and in different parts of the world.
So big brand portfolio, and I guess, the north star for us has really been this push toward sustainable products. You know, as people shift from gas powered products, for example, in lawn mowers and outdoor power equipment to battery power, we’ve kind of been one of the leaders in driving that shift.
We have hundreds of different products now that run on one single 20 volt battery pack. That’s kind of been one of our core missions is to lead that shift to sustainable technology. As far as our formula for success, I mean, you know, most of our competitors are multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 businesses.
So we are very much a challenger brand and a challenger company. And so in order to be successful in that role, you kind of got to be a little bit more agile, kind of be a little bit more nimble, and you also have to kind of be willing to take a little bit more risk when you see things shifting and changing.
Like when you see things moving to battery power, you kind of have to jump on board earlier and get at the front of the line if you’re going to be successful. And so just to tell a story, I remember one of our big product categories that we sell today is a robotic lawnmower. It’s kind of the Roomba for your lawn, right?
[00:06:29] Roy Notowitz: Yeah. That sounds scary.
[00:06:30] Tom Duncan: And I remember my first one, and I give a lot of credit to Don and some of the others Positec, but really seeing that technology and realizing that, you know, it’s going to take us three to four years to develop it and eight years before it really becomes common in the consumer market. So getting out in front of that has now made us kind of a leader in that category.
[00:06:52] Roy Notowitz: That’s still terrifying to me, just imagine, to let a lawnmower run around the lawn. I’m sure it’s safe and it’ll be interesting. Yeah. Are those in the market now?
[00:07:02] Tom Duncan: They are in the market, but I tell you where they’re really catching on is in Europe. Places like Scandinavia, places like Germany, some of the Central European countries where they have a little bit more smaller lawn, it’s a little more uniform and it’s kind of a good solution to having to do it yourself.
[00:07:19] Roy Notowitz: Let’s talk a little bit about your approach to recruiting and hiring in the early stages at Positec and then of course, how it evolved as the company grew and started to build all these brands and market share.
[00:07:33] Tom Duncan: One of the biggest things was just convincing people to join our little startup venture, you know, a lot of the times you’re going after and trying to hire someone away from, uh, a very secure, safe job and an established company.
And you’re saying, “Hey, come work for us and join us in our startup mode.” I remember hiring our first VP of Sales. We hired him away from Newell Rubbermaid, and I think that’s the best selling job I ever did because he had a great job; safe, you know, a really secure job was doing really well. And to get him to come on board with this, you know, I think at the time we had five or six people in the company.
But that was probably 2007, 2008, but just, you know, I knew it was the right move for us. I mean, we needed someone with his level of background and experience, and I knew it was the right move for him as well. But in those early days, you know, it really was about convincing people and, you know, even after those days, I mean, I always learned that it really is a two way street. I mean, you not only have to hire someone, but you have to sell them on coming to work for you. And you have to be fully transparent and honest about the job you’re hiring for and what kind of company you are, but really finding a good fit that’s right for both parties.
[00:08:45] Roy Notowitz: At that point, it sounds like you hired ahead of the curve. You hired somebody who had come from a bigger company, sort of knew what to do. You know, sometimes you need to hire people to do a job that they need to do currently, that maybe if you hire too far ahead of the curve, maybe they wouldn’t be able to reach back that far, or wouldn’t be interested in doing that.
How did you balance those two things as you were trying to figure out how to do what needed to be done at that stage of growth, but also hiring ahead? Did you just always hire ahead of the curve and figure stuff out? Or what was your philosophy around that?.
[00:09:15] Tom Duncan: I think that’s the challenge. I mean, when you’re growing so fast, as we were in a lot of the stages, when you’re in a hyper-growth mode, you know, back in, you know, five to seven years ago, we were doubling the business every couple of years.
And I think one of the mistakes we made was just trying to fill a seat. It’s so urgent to get someone into that role, to get the job done that you tend to just kind of, okay, they’re not perfect, but let’s just put them in there. And so we made a lot of mistakes in that timeframe. And so it was a big learning to say, Hey, I know it seems urgent, but you know, slow down and really make the right hire, find someone that, to your point, not only can do the job today, but can do the job tomorrow because you know, it’s going to be different, but when you’re in hyper-growth mode, jobs are changing and it also says a lot about hiring people that can adapt that aren’t just, okay, I can do this one role. Don’t ask me to do anything else. You really need people that have that ability to multitask.
[00:10:10] Roy Notowitz: Was there a point at which you had to formalize the hiring process or approach or philosophy, or how did you build that competency within your company?
[00:10:19] Tom Duncan: I can’t remember where I heard it, but I remember someone describing in a consumer products business, the three PS are really people, product and profit, and really in that order. And so getting the right people is so critical if you’re going to get the product right. And you’re going to get the business right.
You know, probably when we hired our first HR manager, I told you we made a lot of mistakes in those early years. And I think we made the decision, Hey, we got to have somebody really that understands the hiring process that can manage it, can curate it and they could build it and get a little bit more formalized.
So that was, I think, when it really shaped and started to formalize that process, because I would add one more P you know, in addition it is. And I think, you know, when you’re growing that fast or even if you’re not growing that fast, I think having a clear process in place, so people know how to get things done and formalized in that way is really critical, especially when things are changing so quickly.
You’ve got to have that foundation, again, that’s what I learned early on at Emerson and Bosch, is these companies were great at having these strong, fundamental processes that underlaid their business. And I think entrepreneurs and sometimes in startups, you’re just moving so fast, you don’t take the time to really establish those processes. And you’re just trying to get business done and get product shipped and, you know, get things out the door and you forget that it’s going to go a lot smoother if you can install those processes earlier..
[00:11:43] Roy Notowitz: That’s interesting. At Bosch and earlier in your career, was there anyone, a mentor or experiences that shaped your philosophy or approach to hiring in the early years before you started Positec?
[00:11:55] Tom Duncan: I had a lot of phenomenal mentors and bosses all along the way that really helped me understand and gave me, really gave me the opportunity to manage businesses and put me in positions that I probably wasn’t ready for in hindsight, but they took the chance and they put me in those roles and you learn by mistakes. So I really give a lot of credit to, uh, some of the people within both those businesses that saw the opportunity for me
[00:12:21] Roy Notowitz: Placed bet with you, giving you those opportunities it sounds like. When you were going through the early stages at Positec, and as you were going through that hyper growth, how did you prioritize hiring or know which positions to hire in what order? Were there any specific challenges that you faced other than the ones that you mentioned around, you know, rushing the process?
[00:12:44] Tom Duncan: Oh, I would say in those years, everything was a challenge. I mean, you know, the growth that we were experiencing and you’re doubling your business and sometimes in 12 to 18 months and the boat is always leaking. You’re just trying to patch the ones that are kind of the most urgent. But one of the things that was, I think important for me working in the big corporate culture is I’ve had a good network, right?
So when I started, I had a very extensive network of people that I’ve done business with. And I hired a lot of those people. I had kind of a network that I could tap into, you know, when we needed a logistics person, for example, you know, I’ve worked with some great ones and I was able to go out and kind of again, entice them to come along on the journey.
And at that point we started having success, it’s a little easier because people start seeing you and they see the excitement that you’re getting but yeah, I think having that network to be able to tap into was really important.
[00:13:32] Roy Notowitz: How did culture come into play as you were building that team and the culture at Positec as you were hiring, did you have some foundational work that you did around values and purpose and mission and things like that and how did that factor into your hiring as you were going through those growth years?
[00:13:49] Tom Duncan: I wish we had formalized it earlier, but we did have a platform that we built within Positec, because it was an innovation driven company. As a challenger brand, the way we competed was we had to out innovate. We had to be smarter and faster and bring products that maybe our competitors couldn’t get out to market quickly.
And so in trying to simplify that whole business model, we came up with a concept we called Six, S I X, and it’s basically an acronym for success equals ideas plus execution. So S I X, and again, we had a very values, core values kind of statement to support that. But one of the things was, is really isolating those elements and saying, Hey, if we’re going to be successful, we really need to have a constant stream of ideas.
So we need to hire people that are creating. That you know, are innovative, that have that idea mentality, but we also have to hire people that can execute because I learned that you can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t execute it, it’s not worth a whole lot. Or if you execute it poorly at the same time, you can have a bad idea and be the best executor in the world, it doesn’t matter, right?
If your initial concept, if customers don’t like it, then flawless execution, isn’t going to save you. So you gotta have both of them. And in those early years, when we were really trying to grow and even in the later years, even more importantly is really focusing in and being clear on what those elements are that we needed to be successful so that we could hire people that had those skills and qualities to make us successful.
[00:15:27] Roy Notowitz: That’s really interesting. How did the international aspect of your business factor into your talent strategy?
[00:15:33] Tom Duncan: All through my career, I’ve kind of been oriented toward international business. You know, I got an MBA in International Business. I’ve worked overseas. And I think, you know, the big difference in building a global team of multi international team, multi-country, multicultural is really that you have to count for culture and other differences when you’re making these hires.
And it’s really easy to project your own cultural biases when you hire internationally. Something as simple as language, you know, I remember when I was at Bosch, we were hiring uh, logistics, operational guy, you know, he didn’t speak very good English. And so I interviewed him and I didn’t have a very good impression.
I was like, okay, he’s okay. You know, but I could never get over that language issue. Everyone that interviewed him in German thought he was fantastic. HeI had a great background. So I just kind of say, okay, if you guys like him,.. and it turned out to be probably one of the best hires I ever made in that he was a superstar. Right?
But I had that cultural bias and language bias, and luckily I’ve worked overseas. I’ve had to speak another language in a business context. So I understand how limiting it is and how humbling it is and how difficult it is sometimes to communicate it. And so when you’re talking about building a global team, you really have to consider not just language, but cultural differences, you know?
[00:16:54] Roy Notowitz: How did you assess the capabilities and growth potential of individuals on your leadership teams? How did you go about understanding their potential as they came into the roles and started working on these projects?
[00:17:09] Tom Duncan: Wow, the potential of individuals, I think luckily a lot of the major hires that I made were people that I’d worked with in the past. But at some point as we got bigger, I couldn’t continue to do that. But you know, having a network is really important so that maybe, you know, I didn’t know them, but someone else on our management team or leadership team had worked with them in the past. And so having that network of people is important.
[00:17:33] Roy Notowitz: I mean, in some cases, bringing somebody in that you’ve worked with in the past, they were successful in that context, but then coming in to a new situation, different context, smaller company, Did you find that some of the folks that you thought were great, struggled a bit initially? Or what kinds of things did you run into with that approach?
[00:17:51] Tom Duncan: Absolutely. And that’s a really hard one when you make a bad hire. It’s also probably one of my biggest weaknesses, you know, I don’t know whether I’m an optimist or whatever, and it’s not simply when, you know, someone’s maxed out. They’ve kind of, you know, Peter principle kind of thing, but also, you know, sometimes you just, like you said, they worked great in one environment, but we bring them into another environment and it just doesn’t work out or it’s not a good fit. That’s a really hard one. And, like I said, probably one of my biggest weaknesses, but I think the biggest thing you could do is just be hyper-aware and look for signs early on that it’s not working. And that’s where I think having a strong HR leader is really important. Someone who really has their pulse on what’s going on in the organization where there’s friction happening.
You know, I say that as the CEO, you suffer from the shiny apple syndrome, because a lot of what people talk to me about and the person I see from where I sit is a lot of times a very different person that, you know, peers or even direct reports specifically may see. And so you gotta be careful as the CEO because from a different perspective, a different angle, you, you start to see that there are frictions and there are issues and maybe it’s not working out.
So again, having a really strong HR person or HR team or talent development team’s important. It’s having those eyes and ears kind of inside the organization that you’re able to rely on that maybe you can’t see from the top, right?
[00:19:15] Roy Notowitz: Yeah. I mean, there is a responsibility to make sure that people coming in have the opportunity to be successful.
[00:19:21] Tom Duncan: And I think it’s also understanding whether it’s a skills issue or coaching issue, or whether it’s a true personality, cultural fit where maybe the organization’s just running too fast for this person. And it’s just not in their DNA to move at that level or operate in that environment. So, I mean, if it’s the former, if it’s a skills or a coaching issue, I think you definitely need to make the effort to repair the situation. If it’s changing someone’s personality or there’s an EQ issue or something like that, then I think that’s a tougher putt.
[00:19:52] Roy Notowitz: I think sometimes it’s simple little things like how people make decisions or how they influence or how they communicate, or their adaptability, like we had talked about earlier, being in a fluid growth oriented organization can be unsettling for some who are used to making a decision following through on a quarterly basis or adjusting versus daily or weekly.
[00:20:13] Tom Duncan: And again, I fall back on, you know, I’ve been lucky to have the first HR leader that we hired, and she’s still with us. And she’s phenomenal and she’s really been a right-hand person for me to kind of handle a lot of those situations and really dive in and understand, you know, whether it’s a situation we can repair or not.
One thing I would say just to add is that, where it really becomes difficult is when it’s a high performer, when you’re having an issue with a really high performer and so many times, we’ve made the decision to separate from a high performer for various reasons. And I was always skeptical that we would find a replacement, right?
I always say, oh, we’re never going to replace this person. And so we put up with a lot of issues sometimes for too long. And one thing I’ve always found is a lot of times you can. And a lot of times we’ve found people that actually, uh, did as good if not a better job. You know, it’s always a learning experience. Don’t think that anybody, even though they’re a high performer, having an organization that’s healthy is much more important than any one individual.
[00:21:13] Roy Notowitz: Yeah. That’s good. That’s good advice. You had once told me about a unique way in which your team applied parallel hiring and people management principles as a framework for product management and go to market strategy. Can you share the details of how that concept came to life and how you used it?
[00:21:33] Tom Duncan: Sure. So, you know, being in the tool business, right? People buy our products to get a job done, right? Whether that’s mow the lawn, hang a picture, you know, clean their patio. So they’re always trying to get a job done. And so we use this metaphor of hiring and firing our products. So we always ask ourselves, why would someone hire our product to get a job done?
What’s the job they’re trying to get done? And why would they hire our product? And also why would they fire our product? Really diving into what are the elements that they’re truly trying to accomplish when they quote unquote hire our product. And so we spent a lot of time reading product reviews and talking to our customers and really kind of understanding, you know, what are they really looking to do?
And are our products really getting the job done that they’re trying to get done? And so for me, it’s a great metaphor for any kind of consumer product marketing that we’re doing.
And I think the same applies in the job world. So we’ve actually kind of taken that whole idea and said, okay, when we’re interviewing for a job, we get together and we ask ourselves what is really the job that we’re hiring for? Maybe we need a real leader to come in there and coach and mentor and build the team and get the team running again. Or maybe it’s that we don’t have a lot of ideas, like we talked about earlier.
So really understanding what the job is we’re hiring for is, it’s not just a head of product management and you kind of have to dig down and find out what are the issues we’re trying to solve for.
That’s why process, I think, is real important.
[00:23:04] Roy Notowitz: So do you have a sequence or a method around how you get to know candidates in the hiring process?
[00:23:10] Tom Duncan: I don’t know if I have like a specific question or something that I ask, but it’s more so kind of a line of questions trying to say again, if I need someone who has to really be a team leader, and needs to kind of solve this issue that I have a dysfunctional team and they really need a leadership. Then that’s what I’m going to be asking for and we actually get together as a group and say, okay, what is the core element we’re trying to solve for here?
And then we all kind of dig along that line of questioning to say, okay, is this candidate strong in leadership? You know, they’re all potential candidates for the role, but which one has that unique element that’s going to solve our specific situation or problem or pain point?
[00:23:51] Roy Notowitz: Is there anything a candidate can say in the interview process that sparks a judgemental hot button, or that turns you off and wants you to end the interview?
[00:23:59] Tom Duncan: I would say, you know, the only thing I look for in interviews that’s a negative trait that I would look for would be like an ego. Actually, my dad always told me that, you know, when you look at an organization, if you can find the egos, that’s where you’re going to find the problems.
And there’s a fine line between ego and self-confidence and trying to portray yourself as a good fit for the role. But that is one area where if I see it, I’m kind of like, uh oh, that’s a real red flag for me, I guess.
[00:24:23] Roy Notowitz: So you have a collaborative process, it sounds like, for interviewing and hiring, we’ve talked about that. How do you ultimately make the decision on important hires?
[00:24:34] Tom Duncan: I think you hit the nail on the head. I think having a team and not an individual making the decision and the more heads you can involve to evaluate a candidate, I think it’s a better decision you’re going to get.
So trying to match up the people on the team, not just by functional area, but by expertise or skillset, so that if you’re trying to hire for a specific skill set and you want people on your interview team that have that strength.
[00:24:58] Roy Notowitz: So we’ve talked about being an international organization. And we talked about some of the dynamics in terms of mitigating bias, right? In that hiring process when you’re looking to build your teams across the globe, how do you sort of incorporate that into your other hiring in every region, including the US you know, your largest employee base?
[00:25:22] Tom Duncan: That’s a great question. One of the things I think is really important is diversity. Diversity in a lot of ways, not just the way we think of traditional diversity, but also diversity of personality, thought, all those things. I’ll tell you a story. I have a CFO who is really the polar opposite of me but I, it was a wonderful relationship because I felt like that was really important.
I would see things from one perspective and he would see it in a completely different perspective. And that was important. I mean, yeah, it made for some friction sometimes, but I think it was really good friction because I’ve always said the worst leadership team we could ever have would be like a whole group of Tom Duncans.
And I think a lot of leaders and a lot of CEOs fall into this trap where they just hire clones of themselves because they get along with them so much better. And I think you need to look past that and you need to say, Hey, I need to have those counterpoints. I need to have people that are not just clones of me and see the world as I do, have the same perspective, have the same risk profile. You really need to surround yourself with some people that maybe have completely different perspectives and viewpoints and personalities, and that diversity of thought and perspective is really important for a management team, if you’re going to function well.
[00:26:35] Roy Notowitz: And then as a leader, your job was around creating this environment where people feel safe and where there was trust. More people would share ideas, even if they were contrary, right? Because otherwise they might not contribute in that way. Right?
[00:26:49] Tom Duncan: You want it to end, you know, Hey, have a great debate. People are very advocating one way or another, but you know, once you’ve had the debate you go on and then you come to a consensus and then everybody gets behind that consensus.
[00:27:00] Roy Notowitz: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs and emerging leaders?
[00:27:04] Tom Duncan: I think the speed and complexity of business today is really mind boggling and being able to manage in that kind of agile, fast paced environment, I think is going to be critical going forward. I mean, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and distracted. You have so much going on and being able to stay focused.
And I think this is one of the things we did well at Positec during those crazy, you know, years when we were growing so fast, is we always had kind of this north star, and we’re all aligned on what we’re trying to achieve. And I think being able to communicate that if you’re a leader is really important, being able to really simplify because things are so complex today and we’re getting bombarded and you have to do so many different things and it moves so fast.
I think if you don’t have that clear understanding of where you’re trying to go, and the other thing I’ve learned, Roy, is you can’t over communicate that. I mean, if you think you’ve over communicated, you’re probably halfway. Because what happens is, is, you know, I can’t sit there and tell people each day, okay, this is your priority today.
What you have to do is make sure they understand where you’re trying to go and let them decide, okay, of all these hundreds of things I have to do, these three or four are going to get us closer to our end goal. So those are probably the things I need to focus on first.
[00:28:16] Roy Notowitz: Just kind of keep hammering that into…
[00:28:18] Tom Duncan: Hammer that north star and your goal or wherever your strategy is and what you’re aligned and trying to do, because that’s going to allow people to kind of self-manage their to-do list. Because you get overwhelmed really fast. And I’ve seen a lot of people just drown. They have so many things to do, and they don’t know how to prioritize.
[00:28:34] Roy Notowitz: I’m curious, how are you thinking about the future? You know, are there any exciting projects or things that you’re working on or things on the horizon that we should know about?
[00:28:44] Tom Duncan: Yeah, I’m reading this book, it’s called The Future Is Faster Than You Think. It’s the convergence of all these different technologies is just accelerating change really in every part of business. And if I look back over my career, I think that’s the biggest thing that’s changed is how fast things move today. Things have just accelerated. If I think about what it took when we started an e-commerce business 10 years ago and how you do it today.
[00:29:10] Roy Notowitz: Vastly easier.
[00:29:11] Tom Duncan: It’s unimaginable how fast you can do it. Oh my gosh. I mean, we set up servers in our office and today it’s all cloud-based and everything is cut and paste and you can build beautiful, amazing e-commerce businesses with no one in, you know, in a month and what took us a crazy amount of time.
So I think, you know, just reading that book has reinforced to me, it’s kind of top of mind, how fast things are moving today.
[00:29:41] Roy Notowitz: So you’re on a few boards?
[00:29:43] Tom Duncan: So Fox Factory, which is a really amazing company in the outdoor enthusiast space. They make anything off-road. If you’re taking any vehicle, mountain bike, an SUV, a side-by-side, a snowmobile, if you’re off-road and need ride dynamics, this is the company. And they have just been a true innovator and leader in that space. And that’s been a really fun venture for me to be on the board and experience a different industry, you know, get out of home improvement and that kind of thing, and get into this outdoor space, which is such an amazing dramatic space.
[00:30:16] Roy Notowitz: I love the outdoor industry. We do a lot of work in that space. Yeah. Great people.
[00:30:21] Tom Duncan: Yeah. And I tell you what, it’s going through a sea change with COVID and I think that whole area has just exploded. And I think it’s something that’s going to stay. I think people got into doing outdoor activities when COVID hit. And I think they’re sticking with it and it’s become now a really fast paced growing industry.
[00:30:37] Roy Notowitz: Yeah, I feel very lucky to be in the industry that also supports healthy, active lifestyles.
[00:30:42] Tom Duncan: Absolutely.
[00:30:43] Roy Notowitz: Cool. So if somebody needs to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to reach out? Is it through LinkedIn or email?
[00:30:51] Tom Duncan: Yeah, I think LinkedIn is great. I’m on LinkedIn. Yeah.
[00:30:53] Roy Notowitz: Tom, thanks so much for being on the podcast today. I really enjoyed our conversation and you’ve always been such a great resource and contact and friend to me over the years, so I really appreciate you and your time.
[00:31:06] Tom Duncan: I had a great time. Good talking.
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