Here at OOFOS, we are lucky to have many fantastic team members at our headquarters in Massachusetts and across the country and the globe. Some team members spend their time on the road, visiting different retailers and spreading our "feel the OO" message far and wide. In our series of "Tales from the Road" posts, we'll hear stories from different OOteam members who are out on the road, giving you a glimpse at their experiences. This first post comes from one of our OOTech Reps, Casey.
Monday night I packed my bags and set off for a work week in Phoenix, AZ. We are in every running shop in the Phoenix Valley, so I stay busy over 5 days visiting 5-6 accounts per day, and doing some demos at individual shops.
Out on the road away from home you experience the highest highs, and the lowest lows. Some accounts receive you well, opening their arms and fully welcoming you back as you enter their door. They’ll catch you up on the latest news, newest technologies on the shoe wall, and maybe even some of the latest gossip (if you’re lucky).
Some days it’s all familiar faces at those visited accounts. It’s like getting together with family or old friends. Laughing, joking, relating, and catching up. A place where everyone knows your name.
This story is not about being a tech rep. But is actually about a chance meeting today inside one of my accounts in Glendale, AZ. After meeting with the attentive staff at Tortoise and Hare Sports, the store started getting busy and so I started packing my things to leave. Right outside the door I see a man with an orange construction vest on, parking a jogging stroller with taped stenciled letters on the back of the stroller spelling out, “My Walking Life- Walking the USA.”
The man comes in after straightening up his shirt outside the door and lowering his bandana draping around his mouth, moving it to his neck. He comes over to me as I was seated and still packing my things, he sits down and starts foam rolling with a trigger point vibrating roller. I looked his way and mentioned that he seems familiar with massage rollers, he laughed and his eyes perked up when he recognized me as a rep. He asks me if I work for OOFOS after noticing my branded backpack, OOah Sport slides, and clothing. He might’ve noticed my bright car outside in OOFOS green wrap outside also.
“My name is Tom,” he says. I introduced myself. Tom and I keep chatting and we start talking about the state of run specialty improving slowly. We spoke on all the retailers we have met with our similar backgrounds. Tom tells me he was the first private equity owner of Fleet Feet Aptos near Monterey, CA.
Through chatting more with Tom I found out he is now a consultant who is hired to educate retail store owners and footwear brands on aligning their direction to better work together to create perfect harmony and reach their chosen audience most efficiently. Tom compared this crucial education to an orchestra playing in front of an audience. The best businesses like Patagonia (for example) have the best brand story. Everyone knows the story. The founders of Patagonia told their story over and over, and everyone bought in. Patagonia is a perfectly orchestrated band with the conductor of this band directing in harmony together even with the many instruments. This would be brand messaging. All just music to the consumer’s ears.
Tom tells me about his early life teaching in Long Beach, CA at Bancroft middle school down the street from where I grew up, and then moving up north to work at Fleet Feet Sacramento on J Street as an assistant manager. Then he later owned Fleet Feet Aptos as one of the first private equity owner/operators. He later worked at Fleet Feet Inc in North Carolina as the national education manager for franchisees.
After just listening to Tom tell me about the many twists in his life that lead him to this point, I finally asked him- “What’s with the buggy outside”? Tom told me he had began walking the entire United States and had started in Santa Monica a month ago. He put his life on hold for 6-8 months to take this journey into the great unknown. Relying on the comfort of friends in different cities, campsites along highway 10 and his sheer will- Tom is determined to finish in 6 months. I told Tom that he’ll have a pair of Oofos waiting for him in Austin, Texas. He told me at that point his feet would have truly “earned this” (his words).
As I sit and reflect on this one of many experiences out on the road and try to draw meaning from it all, there’s two things I know for sure. One is that meeting a person with the intent of walking the entire country can only happen while sitting in a running speciality store. The other is that every person in this world wants to be remembered or known for something. The scale of that “something” will differ person to person, but if we all remember to actively listen more to one another, we can really start to hear for the first time.