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Christine: Please join me in welcoming Chris Anderson, the founder and CEO of Ledge Lounger. Chris started Ledge Lounger as a phenomenal success for the last decade and he'll share his story about how as a young teenager, he's a serial entrepreneur knocking on doors and learning how to build businesses way back then. Then his experience extended into college, as well as after college and joining his dad's business. I can't wait for you hear his story about how you quite never arrive at the place you're going when you're growing a business. It's almost equating to fall summit, so no mountain top and you won't want to miss this episode. Welcome to the Christine Spray Show, joining me today is Chris Anderson, the founder and CEO of Ledge Lounger, a well respected brand and name throughout the globe. Chris, thank you for joining us today and be a guest on our show.
Chris: Hey, thank you, Christine, appreciate you having me.
Christine: Absolutely. Well, I know a little bit about your background and your story and your success that you've had and I want to share this with the rest of the world. So thank you for being here with us, if you don't mind, jump in and kick off with telling us a little bit about your background and your education.
Chris: Thank you for the question. I think, I don't know if it's too different than most I other than just the fact that I was just a very, very heavy entrepreneur at a very, very early age. While my friends were playing baseball, or football or participating in school sports, I was always out trying to make a dollar. I think really what drove me on that was just financial freedom, having the ability to make my own money and make my own decisions on when I wanted something, being able to purchase it, it pretty much drove my entrepreneur spirit. So growing up, I'd pull a wagon around the neighborhood and wash cars, make a lemonade stand, do all those things but do them pretty seriously. I had a passion that was shooting and sporting plays, sports, shotgun shooting. So I started my own shooting school when I was in high school and taught-
Chris: Kids and women how to shoot, and actually started a school where I taught trappers how to trap sporting events, shooting events, and I would travel around the country with them and bring them to different shoots and we would trap for large tournaments and stuff. So kind of always an entrepreneur. Graduating out of high school, I had a lot of things going for me here in Houston just with the small businesses I've created, but well I always kind of like to start a new, which it's hard because you've built something, but then you want to just kind of start fresh. So went over to Louisiana State University, LSU, I really, really enjoyed my time over there but it kind of gave me an opportunity to see what I can make of myself again. While I was beginning my degree in construction management, I was very, very highly involved in the student media. I was kind of a student director of all the advertising sales of the student advertising.
So the school newspaper, the school television station, the radio station, I managed all the students selling all that product, and it happened to be at the same time that LSU won a national championship, Go Tigers, and we had a lot of public recommendation from all over the world, excuse me, all over the country and a lot of people wanted to place ads with our school and in our publication. So I grew that department and managed quite a few students there, growing that department we reach some numbers that they'd never seen in the department while I was there which was very exciting, gave me a lot of learning, learned how to manage people, learned how to grow sales, learned a lot about marketing, a lot about advertising.
So instead of using my degree, I actually used that skill set took a job with the Dallas Morning News. The very early days of online marketing, online advertising. People were still trying to figure out how to monetize online channels. So I took what I learned in college and just being in that generation that was growing up with online advertising and helped my department over at Dallas Morning News figure out how to monetize the ads spend, how to monetize the eyeballs on web and sold online advertising there. Then I took a jump to be a director of business development up in Nebraska for a gentleman that was running for governor, it was a online social media site. It was an automotive social network that we developed, I was up there. So I kind of learned a lot about online, building a website and how to again, market it, how to make money off of it, and monetize it, and where the value was there.
I did all this while I was saying, I'd never come back to work for my father's swimming pool business. It's something that I kind of grew up in, my father had owned a swimming pool company. He'd been in the industry since I was born and owned a company since I was about 15 years old, and he would bring us to job sites on the weekends, and we would do pitches for him and he would say, "This is why you need to go to college son, you don't have to do this for the rest of your life."
So I swore I'd never get back into it, but after being out in corporate America, that entrepreneurial spirit kind of kicked back and I realized I had an opportunity one day to own my own business, and saw it as an opportunity to go back and work with my dad, enjoy some time with him, and also decide if I want him to kind of spring into the pool industry or not. So then that kind of led me to develop the first product. The first Ledge Lounger was through getting involved in the family business and finding a need in the marketplace and all this history from there.
Christine: Well, so tell us more details about that because I think that is so exciting about you're an entrepreneur in the making, of course, like you said, from a young age, and it's awesome to hear all the different things you did from the shooting to the lemonade stand to the wagon lines, et cetera. So when you came back what came back to work with your dad's business, and you're helping him grow that business, obviously, all that sales and marketing background helped too. But how did that first Ledge Lounger come to fruition? Where would that idea come from?
Chris: Sure. So a couple of things happened coincidentally, at the same time. Number one, I was working on a project that had a very large tanning ledge, and for the listeners of that don't know, a tanning ledge in a swimming pool is that shallow area of water, typically somewhere between seven and 12 inches deep. We put the tanning ledges on all of our pools, and it's just an expansive area, in our case, where somebody can hang out in a very shallow body of water. It's kind of a little backstory here, when I joined my father's business all he was doing was building the swimming pool, they typically build an average $70,000 pool, and because he was the one designing it and selling it, whatever he designed, he would actually have to go out and build. So these designs while they were custom, and they were unique, they were never over the top.
But once I became the one that was designing and selling it, and he was out there building it, kind of I was never concerned about how hard they were going to be to build typically the harder they are to build, the more expensive they are and the more expensive they are, the more commission you make. So I was really empowered or motivated to design complicated and sell high end projects. So our projects kind of got bigger, because all of a sudden, we're designing and selling higher end jobs, but additionally, I was finding out that the pool is really just the entry to the backyard, there's so much more to the backyard than the swimming pool. If you think about it after you finish a swimming pool, what do you have to do? You have to furnish it, you have to put in landscaping, you have to put in lighting, you have to put up the play structure for the kids, there's just a number of other things other than the swimming pool, it just so happens in the pool industry or in the backyard design industry, the pool is the first contact for the homeowner.
Whereas if you're going to build a home, you're going to call an architect and the architect after they finish the design, they're going to maybe introduce you to some builders. Whereas in the pool industry, the first person you pick up and call is the builder. So what I really learned was the pool was the way in and money was actually going to be made more so off of the turnkey items like the landscape and the furniture and all these other items. So we took our average job from a $70,000 pool build to moreso $250,000 backyard, we'd even do some million dollar backyards. So at the moment when I kind of realized, hey, look, we can start doing the furniture in these backyards as well because everybody's going to get furniture for their backyard after they buy a pool might as well be from me.
So I made some relationship with some furniture stores local, and we realized that we could send our customers over to these furniture stores, they can pick up their products and then we could have them delivered at the time that the poll was filling up with water so they didn't have to go by the Costco and send stuff last minute that they can actually have some quality outdoor furniture and it would be additive to the design. What I also quickly realized was I could design it in from the start so I could make the patio the right size to accommodate it, make sure we pick the right colors so that it all worked together, and I found that that was pretty intimidating for a lot of homeowners to have to select cushion colors and pillow colors and all that stuff.
So we really would focus on being that complete solution for the homeowners and it happened on one of my jobs I had a big tanning ledge area in the pool and we took one of the patio items that we bought from I believe it was restoration I would put in the pool and the homeowner kind of challenged me on it and just said, "Hey, look I don't think that's made to go in the water, is it going to damage the furniture or is going to damage the finish the pool?"
But at the same time I'd seen something kind of similar to the thought process of putting furniture in the water while I was out in the trip in Las Vegas and I said, "Man we really need to develop something that's made for the pool industry, made for the pool, durable to the chemicals and the environment where a homeowner can actually lay in the water and not the above the water per se." So literally I mean it was kind of that moment, it was a need that a customer had in the folks that the time, was truly not to start a big business it was really just to create a product that I could sell to my customers because I knew my customers wanted it.
Christine: Wow. So you took all that background and experiences started designing better pools, more experience friendly pools and then had this ledge which we didn't have those when I was growing up I know that, but we had this ledge and then the concept came from putting furniture in the pool to what you have now is called Ledge Lounger and then some. So what is a Ledge Lounger?
Chris: So a Ledge Lounger in the beginning it was a core product and I'll certainly give a bit of advice here to anybody, don't name your business after your product because it certainly has caught up to us where we've been looking at shifting the brand to a more I guess not specific to a product name, but it's worked out well for us. But a Ledge Lounger is literally, it's a shave that you can lay in the pool and you can splash here, so you can lay with your hands in the water, your bottom in the water, your feet in the water and chill out on that tanning ledge, relax. We call it sunbath in style or in water in style, something that you can relax in the pool, and truly kind of get that resort feel, get that destination, I made a resort in my own backyard.
Christine: Nice, and that's been your number one seller since you started the business, but you also have a lot of other products since then. This is in pool furniture that is safe for the pool that can stay in the pool, right?
Chris: Absolutely. So I think any successful business is a diversified business, without a doubt and I think we fortunately started realizing upfront is we don't want to be a one hit wonder, we want to ensure that we're building a brand not just a product and we saw obviously the sales of our Ledge Lounger, we call it the signature shades now. Signature shades had just blown up and was gaining a ton of popularity and we were getting orders for it, a lot of it every day. Of course the obvious first answer is accessorize. It's make a headrest pillow, make a shade, make a side table, those are the easy things because it's just so obvious. The harder thing is, is now how do I increase my average order value once I've accessorized it and now customers coming to my website, it's been insane average order $1,200, how do I get them up to $1,600? How do I get them to $1,800? What are the additional items that they're going to need?
Number one, we very, very much focus on our audience, we pay attention to our product efforts in the marketplace, and we see what else our customers are buying and that's one of our kind of product development strategies, and then that's more on the residential side. I think on the commercial side, while a lot of our product was showing up in commercial environments, we were getting requests for proposals for say $150,000 job, where we were only the $5,000, $6,000 or $7,000 worth of product and then $150,000 job. So we would look at the request for proposals and we'd see all the other items on it, and then we quickly started diversifying our product line into other items that were on those lists, so that we can try and capitalize on a larger portion of the projects as opposed to just the in water furniture.
Christine: Interesting. So with all the products that you offer now, I know you mentioned several but you have in pool and out of the pool but you also have games and other things. Give us an overview or give the audience an overview.
Chris: Sure. Absolutely. So we pretty much have a full lineup in water. So you're going to see everything from chaisers, to chairs to side tables. We have in water bar stools now, I've got some cool new things coming out, I can't elaborate on too much coming out next year that kind of tie into the whole bar concept. We've actually just released an extremely popular, it's just amazing how crazy this is. We introduced a float called a laze float. It's a quality multi season type of flow that you're going to be able to have and it's washable, so you can throw it in the washing machine and getting kind of mold or mildew out of it if you leave it outside all the time, laze float. So we brought this laze float to market this year, and literally can't even keep them on the website. As soon as we release a batch, they start within a few hours, which has just been so cool. In fact I think you bought one Christine as well.
Christine: I do. I have two. My dog loves it too by the way.
Chris: Yes, dogs love floating on them, dogs laying on them, people love floating on them, very comfortable, very cool product. So that's kind of our in water line. The neat thing about our in water line is that we used to kind of be stuck to that ledge, and now we've really expanded out into the pool, market size has really opened up for us because now you don't just have to have a pool with a tanning ledge. If you have a pool, you're good. Then of course when our patio stuff, what we realized was outdoor patio furniture, honestly, for the most part is crap. There's not a lot of quality stuff out there, and we had already had a pretty significant revenue stream off of our in pool furniture and we said, "We'd really like to make some patio furniture." But we didn't need it to support the business.
So it wasn't about creating something that was going to be good for a mass market, it was about creating a really quality product, and if customers wanted to buy it great, and if they didn't, then that was okay too. It was okay for us. So we really focused on what kind of material we could use that would be really, really durable, and not only residential environment, but also commercial environment and we really also focused on developing some cushions that were really unmatched in the marketplace. A lot of companies try and develop cushions to be extremely affordable, but yet, that's the biggest pain point of any patio furniture is what I find, is people are always complaining about how the cushions stay wet after a rainstorm, or they have to replace their cushions every season. What we did was we used top line Sunbrella fabric, we use an easy dry foam on the inside, we use a mesh on the bottom.
A lot of people would say, a lot of the furniture manufacturers would say you don't want to use a mesh on the bottom because if the top gets dirty, you want the customer to be able to turn it over and use the other side. We said, "Well, why don't we just use a fabric that's easy to clean, and it's not going to get dirty and let's put a mesh on the bottom so that the cushion can actually breathe." So you can actually wash and clean our cushions with a pressure washer, they're that durable and that strong and it's really, really easy to do. In fact, in my backyard, I have white cushions on my outdoor sectional and that's just a true testament to yes do they get dirty every now and again? Sure, but they're really easy to clean and get right back to brand new.
Christine: Interesting, interesting. Well, I know from your videos as well as your website and catalogs, et cetera, that your furniture is now a great quality but it looks beautiful too. I mean, it really dresses up any backyard. Can you comment to that? I don't want to put you on the spot, but can you comment to where some of your products are just to give people an idea of the caliber and the quality that you're dealing with?
Chris: Oh, for sure. So we know a lot of, when you say where they are, I assume geographical or kind of hotels and different places around. So we're on the rooftop patios in Austin, you can find us in a lot of major hotels and resorts, Hyatt. I mean, Hyatt, Hilton, lot of the big brands W, you can find it even in Dubai. I mean, we've got a lot of product over overseas in Dubai, Australia where with UV, there's a lot of concerns with the UV and just the damage that the environment causes on the furniture. Very, very durable from that perspective. I also want to mention going out there too that, you mentioned games. Games is a big part of our brand we have some-
Christine: Yeah, tell us more about that.
Chris: Washboards. What we realized was you can go by a ping pong table, Academy or off the internet and typically have to leave it outside. Well, in Houston there's a lot of humidity and humidity really gets to any kind of outdoor games, especially when they're made out of wood or fiberboard or any of those types of materials. What we realized was the material we were building the furniture out of it's called HTPE. It's a very, very strong resin. It doesn't splinter, it doesn't crack, it's going to last forever, literally. But it also holds up tremendously to humidity and moisture and that sort of thing. It doesn't impact it at all because it is a resin.
So we developed a ping pong table out of it. Literally, it's a ping pong table you can put around your pool, you can put your backyard, you don't have to put underneath a cover. You can sit around it, you can eat at it. You can use it as a dining table of course if you choose to but it's very low maintenance and once again, if it does get dirty or if it's underneath an oak tree with a lot of pollen, literally take the pressure washer to it, you're not going to hurt it and it's going to last.
So we did the same thing with the cornhole boards that we have now, we did tinting we have some washer boards, we have some fun, oversized dominoes that work outside. So just a wide draft products and we're adding a whole lot more. A lot of our product development comes from our customers. They're saying, "Hey, I really wish I had this. We love your quality. We wish we had this, we wish we had that." Then we've got a product development team in house and we can look those things up and get them added to our catalog, if that makes sense. So we've been just introduced to an outdoor credenza that has a built in, a spot for a TV to hang on it on the back splash, if you will, and then it holds a refrigerator and towels and you can charge your phone on it and just all kinds of great things.
Christine: Wow. So Chris, to clarify too so you have products that serve everything from the commercial market to the residential market. Right?
Chris: We do.
Christine: You also have products that serve everyone from infants to small children to adults, is that correct to you as well, because you have slides and things like that as well for children, but also the products that the adults love. Can you comment on that?
Chris: We do. We introduced a slide last year, it's a toddler slide. I'd swim in my pool with my kids and they literally wanted to be on my back the whole time. They wanted to climb on my back and be thrown and I thought man, I need to create a product that will give me 30 minutes of a break when I'm in the pool just so I can enjoy the pool at the same time as they are. So we actually developed, what we found was a lot of kids would slide down our chairs, our in water chaisers. So we quickly realized that hey, there's a market for a slide. Just don't think of slide as in like on the edge of the pool slide, think a slide as like on the tanning ledge, on the edge of the tanning ledge or on the tanning ledge.
Probably two to five year old kid under 70 pounds, it's only maybe three foot drop over the whole slide and just something they climb up and slide down and really have a fun time with and it's really neat because you can put it next to some of our other products and then mom can lay there and while the kids slide and entertaining themselves. So it's been a pretty cool product. Then on the other side of it, we have daybeds. We have more adult type, the bar stools that daybed, the lounge chairs with the shades over them. So we really span a pretty big market size, not only in product types, but also considering the consumer and the demographics of the consumer.
Christine: Right. So I've had the privilege of watching you grow and remind us how long you've been in business and how many products you have now.
Chris: Sure. So we have been in business since 2010. 2010 was really the conceptual year, 2011 was when I actually started selling our first products. So about 10 years, and in 2010 through '14, I'd say we probably got up to maybe around six to eight products. In 2015 to '17 later, probably more so 2017, we introduced about 80 patio furniture items.
Chris: Then we continued to expand, if you think about patio furniture, you can't just introduce a product you have to introduce collections. They don't just want to chaise, they want to chaise that has a dining table and dining chairs and sectional or sofa. Then it's really easy to increase your skew count quite a bit when you do that but you can obviously have to stay hyper focused at the same time. Then, really in the recent years, some more, the bar stools, the slide, laze float. Kind of really maximizing on our lifestyle branding, finding products that are fun. What we love about the float is it's something that you over year, people might want to change out because the patterns go out of trend come back in trend.
So it's good to keep it fresh with the homeowners and have something that they can come back to and purchase on a year to year basis, so they're in front of our brand and at the same time, kind of having some relatively consumable products, because if all we sell is just stuff that's going to last forever in the backyard not said that this won't last a while but we need to have some trendy stuff too so that we have a customer coming back and buying from us.
Christine: Right. Well, I know I'm a proud customer of yours for sure. But I also know, I can echo what you just said too about your customers, you do listen to your customers, and your ideas and concepts that continue to come from what your customers are asking for, which is great. But if I think about what my interior designer always tells me is, is I'm very much matchy, matchy, matchy is what she says, and it's one thing I love about your collections, as you said, because your collections are so beautiful, and it has every you have everything you need, from chairs, to the lounges, to the tables, et cetera, and everything's very complimentary and just beautiful style and beautiful taste. Do people go to ledgelounger.com to buy your stuff if they're a residential customer?
Chris: Absolutely. We have all of our stuff online, it should be relatively simple to navigate and shop our website and we were excited for people to see it and we'd love any feedback. We have a form you can submit with any ideas of new products, or just your thoughts on our products. We'd love to hear it.
Christine: Yeah, I love that about you because you're always asking your customers too what can you do you better and what can you do more of. So, for audiences listening too, I want to be clear too that, so you were working with your dad's business, but this is a business you went and started. So this is a standalone business and you're not building pools anymore, you're really specializing in pool and out of pool furniture now and accessories. Right?
Chris: Correct. So back really in 2007 joined him, joined this company kind of developed this in 2010, really worked with him through 2014, the beautiful thing of starting this business was that I didn't need the revenue to put food on the table. So I was able to put money back into the business. I think a lot of times when people think, "Oh, I want to go start a new business." They think well, I need to quit my job and go start something, but there's a value in starting something and maintaining what it is you're currently doing until you kind of feel like you have, until you can jump. For me they fed each other, every new pool I designed every project I sold for my father's company was also a job that I was selling my products on through Ledge Lounger and the more I got into the pool industry, the more I met other pool builders and other influencers in the industry that can help propel the Ledge Lounger brand.
So it was very complimentary, then I think holding on to the pool industry as long as I could was very beneficial, but there was a point where it was just too much. The business was moving so fast, and I was finding myself slowing the growth of the business down because I was trying to go sell the next pool when really, in any contractor type business, the value, you're just not going to really build a big value in a business because it's contract, contract. Ledge Lounger was building a brand and building a product line that could pretty much live on beyond me and it didn't need to be successful. So I said, "Hey, I really need to focus my long term successes, focus my time on ledge as opposed to the pool company."
Christine: Okay, interesting. I've had the privilege of knowing you I believe for more than five years now and watch you grow and talk about success and growth. It just gives me goosebumps when I think about it to watch how fast you've grown, and how much you guys have done since the inception of the business. Tell us some of those challenges, biggest challenges you've had in growing a business because obviously it was you, literally, one and only and where you're at today. But tell us some of those challenges and where you're at now.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, a couple things based on what you really kind of just touched on. Number one is when we met, one of the biggest challenges I had was not knowing what I didn't know. I didn't get an MBA, I didn't go to business school. A lot of this stuff was just learning, you don't realize when you're younger, all the skills you're learning and how you can apply them. Walking up to a customer's door to wash their car, knocking on their door and asking them for two dollars to wash their car when you're teenager, well, younger than teenager, when we were 10 years old, 11 years old, that you gained skill sets and trying to convince somebody to give you two dollars to wash their car. Who wants two kids and they're outside their house, washing their cars, it'll be much rather bring it to a professional carwash place. So I had the kind of the street smarts in business because I did it growing up, but I didn't have the true business education.
I knew about marketing and knew how to sell things but I didn't know how to read a P&L, I didn't know business acumen. Christine, when I joined Vistage that was some of the most challenging times because I didn't even know how to move the business forward and pisted certainly has helped me with all those things. I feel like every year I'm in this business and in pisted, I get another MBA, because I'm learning so much so quickly kind of drinking from a firehose. But I learned very much so that put yourself in a room with people smarter than you are, and surround yourself with people that have tons of experience, and also learnt don't be afraid to ask questions, because people that have done it are really excited to share their success, and they share their success through sharing their experience.
So people are very open, a lot of successful business people will never turn down an opportunity to help somebody else because in a way, they're also getting to relive their success when they're helping somebody else. So I think, certainly a big challenge was gaining experience, and obviously I just kind of touched on how I did it and how we were able to grow so quickly. Additionally, is finding good people. I mean, I was very fortunate that my business partner, now one of the guys that I used to pull the wagon around the neighborhood with growing up, I was able to recruit him out of a aerospace engineering degree to come over and join the team and put him in charge operations. He's operationally minded engineer, and got out of his way and just said, "Hey, look, you're going to own this, and your success and my success are dependent on each other." Got out his way and let him learn and gain the skill sets to grow the business and drive the business from an operational perspective, while I focused on my talents, which was the sales and marketing side.
So that was certainly a challenge in the beginning was trying to identify who I can bring on. Fortunately, I got lucky and found somebody that I can trust, I knew I can trust, we have a personal relationship, and just really enjoy working together. So that was a big challenge at first but turned out to be probably one of our biggest successes.
Christine: Yeah, I agree since I know who you're talking to you and you guys have both done a great job together in building a great company. Share with us some of your proudest achievements, or biggest opportunities you've had in the last decade and building this business?
Chris: I think number one is maintaining growth. Nothing's good enough, which is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is you keep going, you're always driving, you always want more. 40% growth wasn't enough, 80% growth wasn't enough, 100% growth wasn't enough. There's a blessing in that, you continue to create opportunity to drive the business and the business continues to grow. The curse is, as your team grows around you, they're not all motivated and driven the same way you aren't necessarily. So sometimes you got to slow down and celebrate. So, I've learned a lot lately, how to kind of slow down and celebrate with the team. But I think I'm most proud of being able to find the balance.
I think, Christine, one thing we talk about on a regular basis is just not being afraid to say, "What can I do better, Christine?" You're outside looking in and always asking you, not thinking, hey, I'm the best at my job, but thinking, I have so much to learn from everybody else around me. I've asked you plenty of times, "What can I do better? What can I be better at?" Not because I think that we need to go find a whole lot of ways to get better, but because I want to always be open to a different way of doing things and I want to always see other people's perspectives. My wife, I'm the devil's advocate, right? I'm always the one who tries to see things from others perspectives and so many times I just need to shut up and be on her side with things but I always like to open up the other perspective.
So I think that's kind of an area that we've been successful is just kind of always keeping our ear to the ground and not just assuming that we haven't leaked, and paying attention to whether it's competition or whether it's opportunities in jumping on them and just aggressively going after things and not being afraid of failure. I think too many times people get stuck in the... For example, building a pyramid right. If you anybody that was laying the first block, ever knew what the pyramid was going to be and how long it would take to build, and they would never want to build it. But if they just focused on one block at a time, then the pyramids get built. So if the guy with the vision was responsible for placing the blocks, the pyramid would have never been built. But he wasn't, it was the guy that was just placing a block every day.
That's kind of one of the ways I look at business, when you have an idea, don't get overwhelmed with the vision, don't get overwhelmed with the final result, really, really focus on step one, step two, which is clearly it's many people I've said that before, I'm certainly not the first person to say it but I think it's one thing to hear it and then it's one thing to act upon it and really focus on one step at a time, and that's really what's made ledge. We found a really creative niche with our first product, but our growth has not been on the back of that first product, our growth has been on the back of being innovative, creative, listening to our customers, and not being afraid to try the next product and fail. We failed on multiple products, but we're not afraid to try again and try again and try again. You want to be calculated and you want to be methodical, but at the same time, you don't want to let the concern with failure hold you back from trying new things.
Christine: Yeah, I agree and just what I've known of you over the years in your partner as well, that's what makes you unique. Not only is your business and you're model your products very unique, and there's nothing else out there like it. But you guys are also very unique in the fact that you're always looking at how can you be better and what are you willing to try? So I believe that's what makes you guys unique and successful at the same time. Thanks for sharing that. I'm going to ask you another question related to, what do you wish you had known when you started out?
Chris: Wow, so much. So much. I wish I would have known how to be more patient and say that certainly be driving. But I wish I would have know more about the opportunity, never really sat down to know what the market size was. So year after year, we were constantly concerned with, are we going to be able to grow that fast again, are we going to be able to double again, are we going to be able to... We always reinvested in the business, but we never gave ourselves enough credit. I was always questioning whether we were going to grow 100% again, and 100% again, and 100% again. So while we were always kind of threw ourselves in it, we didn't necessarily put the things in place to really water that growth or fuel that growth, because we really didn't stop and kind of be a little bit more analytical into okay, what is the market size and really, where can this thing go?
A little bit about that again, is because we didn't have that education, or I didn't certainly didn't have that education experience, or how to assess a marketplace and how to understand how big a marketplace can be and really build a strong business plan. I think, too many times early on in business, people think marketing plans are literally just, well, it's a piece of paper that I can have to show somebody if I need to go raise some money. No, it's so much more than that. It's so much more than that because it makes you think about the business in a different way. It makes you study in depth, the different opportunities in the business and the market size and things to help prepare you. It's almost like a set of construction drawing when you're about to build a building, but I think so many times people are like, "Well, I don't need a business plan. I don't need to go raise money."
Well, no, you need to you need to make a business plan because you need to understand what your business could do so that you can give it the proper feel that it needs to succeed. So I certainly wish I kind of knew a little bit more about that earlier on. I feel like even though we've accomplished some amazing things, we probably could have accomplished a little bit more, and then I also probably, I would say that I wish I would have known that growing a business is a never ending road. When we're younger, and in the early days of building something you kind of have these goals and when you're kind of blowing those toads out of the water, it's just kind of like, "Well, I succeeded at that, and then what and then what and then what?" What I quickly realized is, in this business growing business is never ending. There's no point where you've gotten to the finish line.
Christine: Where you've arrived. Where you've arrived.
Chris: There's no arrival, because you just have to beat yourself year over year, over year, which is a substantial amount of pressure. Especially, we hear about like athletes at the pinnacle of their career, and then all of a sudden they can't play the game anymore and it's like they don't know what to do with themselves because they had that just ongoing pressure every year, every year, every year, they got better, and they got better and then all of a sudden, it's somebody takes away. In business, of course, you can retire one day but the business's still there. Somebody said it this way a long time ago and it resonated with me. It's like climbing a mountain, you get to the summit, and then you turn around, you look at these beautiful view, and you're just like, "Man, we're here we did it." But then you turn around and at the corner of your eye, you see the next peak at the top of the mountain, you thought you at the top of the mountain.
Christine: I love that.
Chris: You're so exhausted, because that climb just took all your energy out, and then you turn and it's like, "Man, there's another peak." Well, sure enough, you climb that peak and you're exhausted and you turn around, and there's another peak. That's business, that is business summed up in a quick story and you have to be along for the ride and you have to truly enjoy it every day and you have to find, to put yourself, hire people around you and surround yourself with people that do the things that you don't like to do, so that you can enjoy it and find pleasure in it and focus on what you're good at and surround yourself with a great team. So every client is enjoyable and it's not just enjoyable when you get to the peak.
Christine: I love that. My husband and I were just talking yesterday about a mountain we climbed in Colorado that we talk about all the time, we had to do it twice by the way, the first time we couldn't make it to the summit. But long story short, it's a mountain that had six or seven or eight, I don't know how many false summits and you get to the part where you see the top you're like, "Okay, we're exhausted, we're exhausted but we can do it, there's the top." You give it all you got to get to the top of it and you get up there only to find out that's not the top. There's another one.
Chris: False peak.
Christine: Do it again, and you do it again. That's a great analogy, I have to agree with you 100%. That's a great story.
Chris: I think looking on it now. What have I learned? What would I tell myself if I could go back? It's just enjoy that process. Yes, focus on the result in go, kick butt and go and go and go. But have a little bit more respect to the fact that you're not going to arrive, it's going to continue to get harder and enjoy it.
Christine: Enjoy it go. So my last question, you take me up perfectly leads to and you're perfect entrepreneur in everything you describe. What is the most rewarding part of running your business?
Chris: Wow. There's so many things I think. I'd say there's two, I'll two. One is just soaking up information, just learning. I don't know if I could see myself going back to a corporate world where I'm responsible for one job because I feel like there's a point where you just kind of max out. Where you've learned everything you can learn and you're providing all the information you can provide. Now obviously, in a career, the next step would be to take on the next role but the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur and potentially CEO and running a business or executive in a business is just, you can never learn enough. Everything's always changing and there's always information to be gained if you seek it out and I think that's extremely rewarding just to always be continuously improving.
What I'll also say is, is building a team where the culture is so engaged and so excited to be here and just so proud. It's extremely emotional, we just had our grand opening of our new facility and just to see the excitement in our team, I kind of got emotional. Just watching the team be successful, and the business is so much bigger than me. It has been for a very, very long time, there's so many people that we rely on every day to be great at what they do for us to succeed and just seeing their excitement when we crush these goals is probably one of the most rewarding parts of the business.
Christine: It gives me another goose bump moment for me. Yeah, I echo everything you just said because I know your team is so proud of what they do and so bought in and you guys are creating across the world, people could truly enjoy family and friend time together, the things we work so hard for. So thanks for all you do for people like us that get to enjoy and have the benefit of your products and those experiences. Chris, I want to wrap up and say again, thank you very, very much. Founder and CEO of Ledge Lounger, appreciate you sharing with us your story and phenomenal success and what you've accomplished and really honored that you were on the show today.
Chris: Thank you, Christine. Thank you very much for your time.
Christine: All right, see you soon. Goodbye. There we have it, another great episode on the Christine Spray Show. Don't forget to check out the show notes at christinespray.com and you can find out more about how we can be a resource to you at strategiccatalystinc.com. All the best in your continued success until the next time we talk.