The Road to Range
Most of the time, a business is built around a product or service. And why shouldn’t it be? It makes perfect sense.
This is a bit different, though.
I have been a freelance art director/designer for over seven years. I make my own schedule. I hunt down opportunities and complete projects for some of the most famous brands in the world.
Many people would say having your own freelance design company and working from home is the dream and I will admit that things could certainly be worse.
But four years into this journey, I began to question what I was doing. For some reason, staying on the path I was on didn't seem like a long term plan for me.
I wanted to do something bigger with my career; bigger with my life. In the words of Don Draper, "I want to build something."
I had always kicked around the idea of a creative studio with a friend of mine. We had both wanted something that we could pour all of our creative energy into and, hopefully, build into a thriving business. I thought this was the answer to this nagging question of, “What’s next?”
My friend and I launched our studio and through that process I began to think about what it would look like when we had employees. I thought back to the companies I had worked for and remembered all of the things I liked and, most importantly, disliked.
When I would think about the future of our business, I wouldn’t always think about projects and profit margins. Instead, I would think about having employees and being able to empower them to flourish both inside and outside of the company we were building.
Our creative studio never really got off the ground like we had hoped, but that thought, building a company that cared for the well-being of its employees, has been at the forefront of my mind for the last three years as I returned to freelancing.
I read The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield. It was amazing to see a company thrive through multiple generations because of their generosity. Guinness wasn’t successful because of a fancy marketing scheme or PR stunt. It was successful because it had bold leaders who cared about the welfare of their workers and community and that were committed to social change.
In the book, Mansfield writes, “...it is the Guinness culture that for nearly two centuries changed the lives of Guinness workers, transformed poverty in Dublin, and inspired other companies to understand that care for their employees was their most important work. It was the Guinness culture of faith and kindness and generosity that moved men to seek out ways to serve their fellow men, to mend what harshness of life had torn.”
That is what I wanted to build.
At the time, I had no freelance work coming in so I put that free time to use. I started sketching up ideas for potential products, which all ended up lending themselves to being outdoor products as I saw opportunities for differentiation in the outdoor industry.
Before I knew it, I had the seed for what might be the business I wanted to build. It’s called Range.
Range has at its foundation three pillars: people, generosity, and leadership. These are the things that I dreamt of long before I put pencil to paper and thought of a single product.
A person is not just some cog in the wheel or a number on a spreadsheet. Taking that outside the walls of Range, a person is not just some mindless consumer.
Sadly enough, most companies view them this way.
For me, people are not a means to an end. Instead, people are the beginning and end. The goal at Range is for each individual to flourish. We want people to excel at both home and work.
Guinness has proven over and over again that you can prioritize people and still build a profitable, successful company. The same vision exists for Range.
Generosity goes a long way.
When people hear the word generosity, they typically think about money, but it is not limited to just that. While money does belong in this topic, we don’t want to discount the role that time and experience play as well.
If we believe that people matter and that their well being matters, then we have to give them opportunities to grow by investing our resources, time and experience. This is true for our business, our community, and beyond.
Leaders get in the trenches.
We have gotten leadership all wrong. The leader that sits in the ivory tower, doesn’t get their hands dirty, and leaves before everyone else cripples both the company and the employees.
There is no company without relationships. We are convinced that real leaders invests in and care for their employees. Relationships are the building blocks of, first and foremost, successful people. A successful company will follow.
My hope for Range is that we continue to be a transparent business that inspires and encourages those of you that want something different out of life.
Thank you for taking part of this journey with us.