Focusing on People and Using Core Values Drive Growth with Tony Grebmeier at ShipOffers

No company grows at a remarkable pace without the leverage of the right people. Great leaders know the importance of focusing on people. When I study fast growth cultures, I see a consistent approach that includes focusing on people. I also know the importance of company values as a way to connect people together. Today’s guest is Tony Grebmeier, CEO at ShipOffers. Inc Magazine ranked his company #588 on the 2016 Inc 5000 list. This company has honored on the Inc list six consecutive times. ShipOffers operates fulfillment services for marketers of health and beauty products, survival items, and personal development products. Tony and I discuss the real reason why people are so important. He shares why focusing on people creates the right level of trust.

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Tony Grebmeier: The Transcript

About: Tony Grebmeier is the Chief Executive Officer at ShipOffers. ShipOffers is designed for higher volume clients who need customized services and shipping options tailored to their specific needs. Fulfillment Services allow you to sell high volumes of products in bulk without manually imputing individual online orders. ShipOffers provides the sourcing, warehousing, and fulfillment services for all our in-house brands as well as private labeled and custom formulation products.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Tony Grebmeier
you know if i focus on just the Inc number and getting the recognition that’s one thing but the internal growth that we’ve gone through the ability to grow a team to develop vps across the company build infrastructure outside business consulting there’s a lot of things i’m proud of how buying a new building and really looking at stuff beyond the number because primarily i was just like oh we got to get the eeg we got to get the nk it’d be seven in a row it’s like to make it six years in a row less than 3% of the companies can ever say that so really really proud more proud of the team behind it to push even faster and we’re doing stuff today with tech that i’ve never seen in any company i’ve been a part of for the last you know 30 years or so so i’m really really fortunate to have such a blast and wonderful partnership with my business partner and childhood friend doug and the executive team here at the company that’s what i’m most proud of.

Intro [0:52]
Welcome to Growth think tank this is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies I am the host my name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth are you ready to grow?

Gene Hammett [1:09]
Today we’re going to talk about personal development personal development is not something that you read just to fix your flaws but something you actually begin to live when you really understand what it is it’s about your evolution it’s about your journey of growth and a lot of the things that a lot of people don’t read or they will kind of snick put their nose up at is something that probably would give him some insight or reframing to allow them to grow beyond all of the challenges in front of them when you think about personal development hopefully you think about your own leadership and how you’re growing as a leader so today we talk about personal development as a leader we’re gonna be having a special guest today his name is Tony G. have to think of think about how to pronounce his last name but it’s Grebmeier so Tony is the co founder of ShipOffers they’ve been around since 2001 they’ve been on the Inc list six times in a row and they were most recently the highest ranking ever got was 588 this past year they were in the 4000s but what i want you to think about today’s conversation with tony is about the importance of growing as a leader about really facing the defining moments that you have he shares a few of those he opens up personally about some of the things that he struggled with and how it impacted his leadership but then we talked about what did he do to actually overcome those challenges and guess what it’s all about personal development so when you think about this concept of personal development hopefully you’re not you know putting your nose up at it or you know saying i don’t have time for it because your job is about growth your job is about growing yourself and there is a famous jim rohn quote out there that that is mentioned inside here i will not repeat it today i’ll let tony share it with you because it will help you if you don’t know what it is if you’ve never you’ve probably heard it before i say that with a smile well now let’s jump into this interview with Tony.

Gene Hammett [3:08]
Tony how are you?

Tony Grebmeier [3:10]
Man I’m fantastic thanks so much for having me on the show.

Gene Hammett [3:13]
Excited to have you here we’re going to talk about growth and leadership tony i know that I’ve already introduced you to the audience but I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about the company that you started almost 20 years ago ship offers what do you guys up to.

Tony Grebmeier [3:27]
Well we are fulfillment specialists we specialize in helping e-commerce and digital marketers in the health and wellness space they find products in our catalog you can white label them and we’ll share them directly your customers we’ve been doing that like you said almost 20 years worldwide outfit and have about 60 team members run around helping to make ship happen every day really help entrepreneurs with a dream to then find a solution to their dream and give them a product and specialize in really helping them to scale their world and their business.

Gene Hammett [3:54]
There are quite a few people founders I’ve talked to on the show that are related to e-commerce I started e-commerce probably around the same time as you i was doing technology implementations in 1999 we were i remember the big conversation we had back then was do you have pictures of your products do you have descriptions that are that are that people normal people can read and the answer was no across the board

Tony Grebmeier [4:21]
Yeah you know the the technology has come a long ways it’s funny because you talk about product descriptions and everything that’s kind of where we don’t help people we’re not marketers we’re just people who have a product and a service and so i’m grateful that i work with some amazing copywriters out there in the world that i can just say hey i’ve got this product this is what i know it should do here’s some information you can read can you help my customer to come up with some descriptions and some marketing angles around it and that’s what i love is being a strategic partner really i don’t have to know it all i just have to know what i do really really well.

Gene Hammett [4:51]
Well I’m ready to get into this if you’ve been on a tear here i was looking this up doing some research you guys were on the atlas six times you are at 588 as the highest rank it gets harder and harder to to keep the rankings going you brought up the tear the last year of it this year at 4893 but the real impressive part of that is six times in a row what what does that meant for you in the company to be able to have that kind of growth consistently.

Tony Grebmeier [5:22]
Well i love it i’ll be the first to tell you we didn’t make it this year so that was a that was a good smirk on my face for a few minutes it was like we had a great year and like you said it’s really difficult and so i do acknowledge all the other areas that i found growth you know if i focus on just the inc number and getting the recognition that’s one thing but the internal growth that we’ve gone through the ability to grow a team to develop vps across the company build infrastructure outside business consulting there’s a lot of things i’m proud of our buying a new building and really looking at stuff beyond the number because primarily I was just like oh we got to get the Inc we got to get the Inc it’d be seven in a row it’s like to make it six years in a row less than 3% of the companies can ever say that so really really proud more proud of the team behind it to push even faster and we’re doing stuff today with tech that i’ve never seen in any company i’ve been a part of for the last you know 30 years or so so i’m really really fortunate to have such a blast and wonderful partnership with my business partner and childhood friend doug and the executive team here at the company that’s what i’m most proud of the ink was a good recognition and something hopefully you’ll start all over again next year but right now i’m focused on the internal stuff and that’s what i love that we’re here talking about today to anybody listening how they can get better in their company is really working on the internal stuff.

Gene Hammett [6:43]
Well let’s define what some of that internal stuff is you had mentioned to me before we hit the quarter quarter on the importance of professional growth as a leader i know we’re going to get into that a little bit later but when you think about growing your team what are the aspects or things that you look at it the categories that you focus on.

Tony Grebmeier [7:03]
I’m a people person so the people that i have to have report to me or i even have to report to because i’m accountable for everything that goes on in this company is making sure that their core value and who they are the core is in alignment with doug and my my kind of values as well you know i can tell you i love people but people let me down so i’ve had a show and learn to give grace and that wasn’t something i was good at in my early days of being an owner even employee of another company i was always quick to judge i was like man didn’t you see there was an opportunity why don’t you take it and now the day i learned that you know the best thing i can do is grace give an example of how we could do that differently and not talk about the past but talk about the present opportunity and then help them to see their future and if that future is here great and that future isn’t here great because all my job is as the ceo of ShipOffers is to be a stepping stone for where you want to go in life let me just have you for the best years of your life if that’s what you can give me so i asked every person i bring on board can you give me the next two years of your life can you give me the next best two years of your life and i’ll make sure i give you the best two years of mine and we can see first and foremost in alignment there i’ve had great success with people in our organization really i got people here have been 18 years can people 13-11, seven and beyond and that’s what i really really love is when you help people to see your vision and give them a step to take and then they’ll they’ll shine every day.

Gene Hammett [8:32]
I bet a lot of companies don’t ask their employees when they’re hiring a new person to give them two years why is it you started doing that what’s been the benefit to it too as well .

Tony Grebmeier [8:43]
I had somebody do it when I was In radio as an air personality like hey you know i want to dedicate my time my energy to really develop you as an air personality i don’t know pouring my time if you’re just going to go look for another job and so i removed some of that wall that gets placed once that person gets a job some comfortability gets going the person feels good i’ve got a paycheck coming in and i want to develop the deepest relationship that i can with who i’m empowering to lead my organization in their department and so it’s a beginning step of empowerment and you talked about implement when you’re talking about technology in the late 90s i’m implementing a frame that they really get to see in the picture they see themselves as a part of something that’s growing i don’t ask anybody to come work for me i ask every individual come work with me help me this is where we’re going this is what i’d like to do do you see yourself doing that with us.

Tony Grebmeier [9:37]
And i think if you get that far in the interview process I’ve only had one or two people I’ve screened personally that I’ve made a mistake or I’ve been benefited by having them not see my vision and move on somewhere else and so i really say it’s helped over the last 19 years of really giving people a clear vision of what’s possible.

Commentary [9:57]
Hold on for a second tony just said It’s the beginning of empowerment. Well, what is empowerment to you? empowerment is where you truly trust your employees. And you’re not going to micromanage them as they move forward, you know that they want to grow, they want to evolve, they want to work on themselves as well. And you are someone that can create that space for them to do that, maybe it’s the conversations you’re having, maybe it’s all of the things that you do, by not doing the work for them, or telling them what the next step is, or getting upset with them when they need to. Sometimes you’ve got to have the patience, that really allows them to grow as an individual, when you empower someone, they have a feeling of ownership. And that translates into more loyalty, or creativity and innovation inside the business. And if you do this across the company, you have a very powerful force that really is tied to your style of leadership. Back to the interview with Tony.

Gene Hammett [10:52]
Well, you’ve talked about values many times, I want to go back to, you know, I know you’ve probably updated them over the years, you how what’s the pattern that you get, you go about updating and creating values for the company.

Tony Grebmeier [11:05]
Or right now we’re smack dab in the middle of a lot of change. And I think it’s all for the word improvement. Because we we’ve seen in reach growth so fast that we stopped, we pulled the knot that momentum train brake. But we decided to really focus on three things this quarter and into the new year, which is people systems, right? And software. Because those are the things that are sustainable, that if you get those things, right, you can really, you can really shine and you can grow. And so I had to get back to like the core value and for me, I said grace, but the real one is focus. What are you focused on as an organization? Where are you headed? What are you doing? How you going to get there? And do you have the right things in place to help you and when you’re making money and the trains going fast down the track use you miss some things, and I don’t want to have anything take us off the track.

Tony Grebmeier [12:01]
So now, we said hey, let’s let’s slow up. Let’s look at our people, we got the right people here because you know, people will only take you so far in your organization until you have to make a decision to bring new people on board. Because not everybody here has ever been a nine-figure business owner including myself. So I know that I only have so many people on the board that have taken our company to an eight-figure business. So now I’m saying to myself, all right, am I primed for that nine-figure. And so that was hiring a new business consultant who manages or as a part of multiple nine-figure businesses. So now I’m making sure I’ve got the right people helping to lead the leadership team and helping to give vision where I lack it, but I’m along for the ride on the momentum train. And I don’t want to get off as one of the owners. And so that’s really been important is making sure we have the right department structure and people in place. And then number two, is our system strong enough to allow us the ability to grow. Whereas the cracks, you know, we feel it every single day. I mean, we’re in the logistics and fulfillment business, we ship 100 line items of every single day multiple skews, things going from here to you know, London next day, you know, going to Italy, France, going down to Atlanta, wherever they may be. It’s just data coming in and data out. And what we realized is there’s some corrupt data in your system. There’s some things that God entered wrong in the beginning that has caused you some pain and you’ve given some credits, you’ve done some stuff wrong. So how do you improve your systems? And what does that look like?

Tony Grebmeier [13:27]
So from the top down, we’re improving all lines of communication in our company to make sure our systems are point on you just where they really need to be. And then the software was something that I also saw that was just not right, we just had some things that I just didn’t feel was strong enough for our company to get to the next level. And so now we’re going out and getting my opinion, some of the best equipment, the best technology that we can bring on board to help our company scale. You have my vision. And for years, I’d like to have two or three locations around the United States and start exploring the idea of moving one internationally with Amazon being out there. Everybody now snaps their fingers and says where’s my where’s my shipment. And that is really created some things bottlenecks in our system because people rely on speed. And so I want to deliver with the greatest technology. I want to have the right systems in place and I want to make sure the right people are on board to help everybody with.

Commentary [14:23]
I want to break in here for a moment. If you happen to be listening on YouTube. We’re trying to increase the our reach inside this channel. If you want to continue to be a better leader, be more visionary, be strategic. Make sure you subscribe right now to our channel. When you think about leadership, you think about growth, make sure to think of Growth Think Tank. We want to help you continue to be the leader that your team craves back to the interview.

Gene Hammett [14:48]
Well, we’re going to focus on the people side of this. When you talk about values, one of the things that we would see in your organization from day to day that allow you to really Keep everyone aligned around the right values.

Tony Grebmeier [15:02]
I think people have to have fun. That’s a big value. For me. I talk about growth stands for grateful, real open-minded, willingness, teachable and happy. And I want you to be happy. If you’re not happy here, you’re probably not happy and else you know, in your personal life. So I always tell people, when you walk through the front door, bring who you are, don’t try to be somebody you’re not. So if you’re having a bad day at home, bring that here, meet with somebody on your team, let’s figure out what we can do to support you, you need to talk to HR, whatever it may be, go do it. Let’s get your head screwed on straight. So then you can go to liver greatness for our customers who are counting on you to show up. So we talk about being open, and just being really real about your life.

Tony Grebmeier [15:42]
Now, some people may say, I don’t want to know about their personal life, I’m telling you this, you’re not dealing with it, it’s going to be dealt with in your company on their, their tax, their attitude, they’re going to be on their phone all day, they’re going to be really bombed, they’re going to be short and snippet with people around them. So we’re going to cut that stuff off right away. I’m also a really big believer in just saying, hey, go take a walk, go outside, just take a 510 minute walk clear your head, there may be nothing wrong here. But there’s something wrong upstairs. And sometimes a little sunshine, a little quiet, little refocus, comes back, and they’re prepped and ready to rock and they have a great time. And that’s been a real big emphasis for our birth of our company over the last 19 years. People focus and I love seeing people work on themselves. So I’m a big proponent of personal development. I love the quote from Jim Rohn, you know, spend more time on yourself than you do on your job. If I get you better, as a leader, as an individual in this company, you’re going to be better when you’re talking to a customer, you’re gonna be better when you’re talking to your spouse or your, your relative, or whoever it may be, you’re gonna have less frustration in your life, you’re gonna come back here ready to rock.

Tony Grebmeier [16:42]
I love Fridays. And I love Mondays. Because they give you a chance to get what’s in between you hear straight, so you can come and have a little fun during the week. And then as you prepare, I love people talking about what they’re doing what they’re up to, I know what every person on my VP board, what their goal is. And that was something that we made sure when we hire you tell me something you’re excited about. Tell me something that I can get behind. When you’re having an off day, I can lean on it. And you can go Hey, Courtney. So really, that’s really important to you go into the mountains, having fun riding mountain bikes hanging with your kids. Have you done that recently? Now, I just been working a lot, and I’ve got a lot going on. And that’s an opportunity for us to have a little conversation. So I’m a people person, because I want people to relate to me, and I need to relate to my people. And that really allows us to help one another to grow.

Gene Hammett [17:30]
In this journey, Tony, of being the leader that you are today, you’ve probably been through a few defining moments, if you will, what is one or two of those that you could share with us that that cause you to really shift the way you lead your people?

Tony Grebmeier [17:44]
Well, I’m open with saying, you know, I October 9, 2008, I almost wanted to end my life I was you know, million dollars in debt separated from my wife for almost three years, I was making money in the company, working with my best friend showing up every day thought I had a great job, love what I did. But I was empty inside. And that really was the beginning stages of finding my meaning my purpose for how I show up personally and professionally. So it really helped me to get to the core that, hey, I have an addictive personality. And there’s nothing wrong with having an addictive personality going to the gym and working out. That can be something that’s very addictive to people and they need it. And so I just realized I needed to transfer my energy from drinking and drug into personal development and reading and spending time helping one another. And what I came of it is that I was able to fix my marriage, I was able to repair a business friendship, I was able to get out of debt, I was able to turn a lot of things around by flipping the switch. And I realized I have no dimmer switch. I don’t have an in-between I’m either on or I’m off. And so I needed to surround myself and I hired a really good coach along the way.

Tony Grebmeier [18:52]
Sean Stephenson who passed a year ago or so. And Shawn always told me you know, Tony, you need to figure out what your when life works list looks like when your life is working great. What are the things that you’re doing, you know, exercising, hydrating, you know, getting good sleep, taking your vitamins, spending time with your family and your kids. Everybody can build their own list, but he says put down 14 things or so on paper and then pick four, make sure you do for those things every single day, and your life will work. Because everybody knows when their life doesn’t work. They already have that list built. So I started realizing I needed to focus on me. And so I turned my life around and I made a focus and an emphasis on on not losing focus of what got me here where I’m at today, and every single day is a good day that I’m above ground and sober. So I know that the defining moment was on October 9, 2008. And since that day, every single day, I’ve made sure that I have meaning and purpose. I have a professional job ship offers that’s my professional job, but I got to make sure I’m personally fulfilled as well. And that just gives me what I call be fulfilled. That’s the fulfilled life fulfilled wife fulfilled, family and everything else in between just works. So when I’m on my game I tell people watch out, we’re going places.

Commentary [20:02]
One more second here, Tony just talked about personal development. Now, this may be the books that you read, maybe the videos that you watch, maybe it’s the time that you spend with meditation. Maybe it’s the time you spend talking to your advisors, your mentors. But here’s the thing about personal development. It’s not something that you should take lightly. In fact, I believe you should be very intentional about developing your own style of personal development. Now, for me, I love coaching. I love this, this reason why I became a coach is because of the journey I have was on as a leader wasn’t on the right path. The coach that helped me aligned to that I look back is such a powerful moment that that’s the reason I became a coach is so I could actually have those kind of conversations that allow people to reframe, look at new perspectives, get, get a deeper sense of commitment around what they’re doing, take ownership for their own challenges, and what they’re creating in this world. And that’s what I did. So when you think about your journey of personal development, don’t just, you know, dismiss it as something that you don’t have time for. This is the job working on yourself is so important. You’ve got to make sure that you continue to do that. And it doesn’t stop just because you hit 10 million, or 100 million, or even a billion. It’s something that it’s always continuous. Back to the interview with Tony.

Gene Hammett [21:21]
I love that you brought up Sean Stephenson because I you know, he’s been on the show before. He’s such a deep individual. And that smile of his it’s just, it’s it’s hard to forget that he was in my book. And it’s all about thinking bigger. And I remember distinctly writing about, you know, the reason I’m writing about this from a guy who’s about three foot tall, if you guys don’t know who Sean Stephenson is, and what he’s lived through, and still had that smile on his face is impressive, and a testament to personal development because of how he sees the world. When you went through these moments of, you know, cleaning up your, your addiction, repairing the relationship with your wife, what did you learn that made you a better leader.

Tony Grebmeier [22:08]
So many things, being humbled, to forgive, you know, try to go to bed each night without resentment, turn it all over, let it all go. That, you know, that’s why I talked about grace was the first things we talked about on the show is like, people are gonna make mistakes. It’s not what you did. It’s what you do about it. Now that you know better are you going to do better, these are just choices they have to choose to make every single day. And once you realize that there’s an opportunity for growth. Just remember, someone’s pulling for you to grow. And that’s me, and trying to help you realize that no matter what you did, it’s okay. We’re gonna get through it together. And I wasn’t a part of a team growing up, my parents divorced when I was really, really young. And I fought for everything that I have today.

Tony Grebmeier [22:54]
Love, my mom loved my dad, they were busy working. And I I built a lot of relationships over the years. And the one way I build those relationships was honest communication. And I got away with a lot growing up where I forgot about having honest communication. And that’s why it’s so important. When people walk through the door, they’re having an off day, let’s go have a conversation, friend, a friend, person to person, human human. And you know what, in a few minutes, I promise, whatever you’re going through, it may not be fixed. But I know you’ll feel a lot better knowing that you have support. And that has been one of the greatest keys to our success is supporting one another as we grow.

Gene Hammett [23:30]
But Tony, I really appreciate you being here on the podcast to share your journey of leadership, where you’re focused, and how you’re aligning to continuing the growth of the company.

Gene Hammett [23:40]
Today, we talked about personal development and leadership, we talked about what impact that makes inside your teams. Well, your people actually deserve a leader that is developing and working on himself. If you’re stagnant, then you really aren’t serving your team the way you could be. I say that because I know what it’s like to struggle, all of the business there’s going on in a business I was there, I have created a new business for myself where I actually have time to step back and temps for breaks in the day, because I know I’ve got to manage my energy moving forward. But I think a lot of leaders don’t know how to do that.

Gene Hammett [24:14]
Today, we talked about personal development, for leadership. And I really want you to think about what that means for you. If you have some defining moments that you’re facing right now, if you’re not sure about how to move forward, that I might be the perfect person to have a conversation with So reach out to me, [email protected]. When you think about leadership and you think about growth. Make sure you think of Growth Think Tank, as always lead with courage. We’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.


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