At the company's Austin headquarters, the brothers changed their hiring philosophy.
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As many founders do, they had first hired "athletes"--friends and friends of friends who could handle everything from marketing to shipping. They now had to shift from athletes to skill-position players--the product design team could no longer be named Ryan and Roy. Though the company has doubled in size in the past year, to employees, 60 positions were open when Inc.
More important, from Cortec's perspective, Ryan and Roy were wide open to discussions about how to organize the fast-growing company. Zero egos," says Schnadig. Yeti doesn't even have a sign on its building. When Schnadig arrived, four people--Roy and Ryan and two others--were running the company. Yeti now has three C-level execs, a general counsel, and six vice presidents.
Things like supply chain manager, product development engineer, and director of marketing. When Corey Maynard was hired to run marketing in , he had just three direct reports. In , Yeti did a brand tracking study that showed just 4. So, in , Yeti began to establish a strategy built on natural tangents to hunting and fishing. For instance, rural feed-and-seed stores were targeted since farmers and ranchers work and play outdoors and like to barbecue. Another outdoor set also wanted in--the crunchy, snowboarding, mountain-biking, organic, locavore, fly-fishing Boulder crowd.
REI tested Yeti in in response to requests from customers in Texas. It got even more fun when Yeti expanded its product line to include a soft cooler called the Hopper. It's a more portable, over-the-shoulder cooler, but it has plenty of outdoor cred: There are four tie-down points, the insulating material also makes it buoyant, and the zipper was borrowed from cold-water survival suits to make the Hopper watertight. Most recently, there's drinkware. Last summer, Roy brought in Matt Reintjes from Vista Outdoor to replace himself as CEO while he retains the chairman's title and focuses on product development.
The brand has barely left the South and has no international sales. Yeti, not surprisingly, is facing increasing competition.
The upscale hunting-and-fishing retailer Cabela's , among others, has imitated Yeti's hard cooler, selling it side by side and offering bigger versions for a similar price. That was inevitable. There's not much Yeti can do about Cabela's aping its product, but it can find other retailers. It now has the money and staff to target more segments and broader audiences. And for a company its size, Yeti's product line is a relative minnow.
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One of the strategic issues Reintjes and the Seiders brothers face is whether to take the Yeti brand into even more distant territory. Yeti boats? What we've seen in recent years is that it's become a product brand. It has a lot of product stretch. And Yeti definitely wants to stretch, both the product line and the territory.
While continuing to expand its Hopper and drinkware lines, Yeti is doing a deep dive into new product categories and in the process expanding its product development team from 20 to 55 people by the end of As for geography, the company has plans to begin rolling out their products to selected international markets. As Harley-Davidson has shown, a brand that becomes tribal can be enduring. That's what Yeti's got. That's what Harley-Davidson's got. Before we head out fishing, Roy reveals a prototype of one of Yeti's newest products.
It's a bottle opener.
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The device is about five inches long and, suffice it to say, there is going to be enough leverage in this puppy to lift hubcaps off pickup trucks, never mind the cap on a bottle of Shiner beer. Which is to say that Yeti will soon be selling five premium-price bottle openers in a market that needs zero. In demonstrating their cooler to potential retail buyers, Roy Seiders would take a cheap plastic hinge out of his pocket.
Lids on inexpensive coolers, he explained, are often attached with these hinges, and they often break. Tundra is designed to be failure-proof and has an integrated hinge system. The top and bottom pieces slot together and are held in place by aluminum pins that run the length. Anything that can break--a rope handle, for instance--is easily replaceable. Handle Two sets. One is integral to the molding, used when one person is carrying the cooler.
There are also two rope handles, to more easily accommodate a two-person carry. Both protect your knuckles from scraping. Tie-down slot An integrated sleeve lets you slide a 2-inch strap over the top and tie it down to a tailgate rack.
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There's another for a 1-inch strap to secure it to your boat. Lid You can stand on it, and the lid is fully insulated. It also has a full-frame sealing gasket like your fridge to keep out the circulating air, which enhances ice retention. When you present the TSHA membership card at participating partners, such as the Dallas Heritage Village and the San Jacinto Museum of history, you will receive special discounts and benefits exclusive to card holders. These include tumblers, pen sets, and other great merchandise to use or share.
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