Be aware of the idea that a business can die a death of 1000 cuts. Small details can kill a business if you don’t pay attention.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Randy Carr, who is a Southern California based entrepreneur, currently operating Europeans Spa Source which is the leading aromatherapy brand in spa in N. America. The company is 6 years old, and has grown to serve over 500 of the leading 4 and 5-star spa/resort destinations in N. America, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
Randy’s background includes owning a print and packaging company, serving as the Marketing Director for an electronic payment gateway, and also as Marketing VP for a corrugated packaging firm.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Overall, I think my career path is about communicating an idea and creating products that evoke emotion in some way. I tend to look for business opportunities that are niche, sustainable, and high growth. After concluding that print is not the main media, we use today to share our story, I had to create a new business that would be sustainable in the modern digital marketplace. It also had to be unique and offer repeat customers. Creating aromatherapy products like European Spa Source for spas is something that fits my criteria for a successful business.
Additionally, the good folks who own and operate spas have proven to be amazing, bright, kind, and thoughtful. Every day I am thankful that I get to do what I do. If there is such a thing as finding a business or industry that you are passionate about, this is it for me.
Can you share one of the significant challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
Currently, we see new brands mimic our line and our concepts. That is something that validates our company’s efforts, but as you can imagine, it can feel like people are taking our ideas as their own. However, a very wise person told me early on, to focus on what WE are doing, what WE stand for, and to always take the high road
When it comes to this type of “competition,” and that is what we have done. We focus on the customer, and that has served us well. As the new to market brands show up, we congratulate them and keep our focus on our customer’s wishes and wants. Also, I have found that an “attitude of gratitude” is the best way to keep the heart and the mind in tune and allows me to be emotionally available to serve our customers in a way that makes them feel as important as they are to us.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
Our success is due mostly to thinking about what we do from the client’s point of view. Keeping in mind, we have two groups we serve, the spa directors, and the spa guests. We build points of encounter for spa guests to run into our product as an organic part of their visit to the spa. We feel this approach is both respectful and elegant as they decide for themselves if our product is right for them without hearing a sales pitch, and then we make the product easy to purchase. The spa guest simply takes the product home from the spa, and then any time they shower, it’s a spa experience!
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
1) Be aware of the idea that a business can die a death of 1000 cuts. Small details can kill a business if you don’t pay attention.
2) Be culturally aware and well informed, but always be true to who you are.
3) Failure is a teacher, not an enemy.
4) Find what works and do that. Avoid distractions that are not part of the core business.
5) Following through and doing what you promise is ONE key to being a good CEO.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
We have a good team in all areas of our operation, from packing and shipping to our financial people, and our marketing team. To keep people connected and passionate about the business, I try to treat each member of our team as a close friend. Including things like regular company meetings over lunch, rewarding exceptional performance with a bonus, or just simply ending each day by shaking hands and saying, “thank you for your hard work today.” It’s about paying people well. It’s also about recognizing the unique contribution of each person on my team, and letting them be involved in new projects, and asking for their input when it’s appropriate. It’s all about how we treat our people.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have had several mentors along the way, some of whom have proven to be lifelong trusted advisors and others who have been more like mentors of circumstance. Both types have value, and I am thankful for every person who has contributed to this journey. It has been my experience that leadership can be lonely at times, and having a solid group of trusted friends to help with guidance and insight is critical. To not listen to the wisdom of those who have gone before me is not smart. I go out of my way to seek wise counsel. The one story I would share is when I first saw traction with our spa customers. I met with a friend of mine who buys companies and builds them up before selling them on to the next owner. My friend told me that the best idea for me was to keep doing what we are doing and avoid mass retail outlets. This has allowed me to keep our focus on high-quality products, real customer service/care, and not be tangled up with the demands and complexity of working with big-box retailers. Currently, we plan to stay in our lane and serve our customers with every bit of effort and energy we have. We firmly believe the real value of what we have created with European Spa Source will be revealed when it is available in the future for everyone to purchase in retail and enjoy at home as part of their daily shower ritual.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
I have one or two more ideas that will become successful companies, but that is all down the road a bit. Right now, my focus is like a laser on European Spa Source, and we are shooting for 1000 spa customers within the next 24 months. Currently, we are about halfway to that goal.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I want people to say that we were honest, made great products, and treated everyone well. That’s all I can ask for in terms of my business legacy.
I hope that my wife, kids, and friends all feel that
I was a blessing to their lives in some small way, and that I was able to contribute to their lives
In a positive way.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
I think there is a ton of unnecessary friction and hard feelings in our country right now between groups of people who all seem to have different ideas about how this great nation should be.
If I were to start a movement, it would have to be one based on the message of individual responsibility. We have to start looking at our opportunities to change things that are within reach and be willing to do the work. Kind of like the old saying, “Think globally, but act locally.” We need to work hard and make progress together, without tearing down the lives of other people just because we don’t have the same point of view. Every perspective has value, and we only learn when we listen.
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