Continuously educate yourself so you can be an expert in the market you specialize in and remember that you never know everything even if you think you do! In business, there are so many techniques, approaches, and methods people use to be successful that it is impossible to be an expert in or even be aware of all of them. It’s also important to stay current and change with the times, or you are likely to lose customers who are able to provide the service or products you clients need now.
For Paul and Peter Hirsch, running a business is about more than profits. It’s about giving back — supporting the community they call home and worthy causes close to their hearts. Pioneers in the specialty goods industry, Peter and Paul Hirsch, are the dynamic father and son team behind Patriot Coolers, the #1 rated Cooler Brand in the USA. Founded in Houston, Texas in 2017, the father/son duo was determined to create positive charge in the lives of fellow Americans and have committed 20% of the net proceeds from their outdoor lifestyle brand, Patriot Coolers — drinkware and cooler sales, to the not-for-profit organization, Homes For Our Troops making it possible to give back to U.S. Military Veterans across the country with every purchase. Today, Patriot Coolers produces a wide variety of high-quality outdoor living products designed to withstand the toughest environmental conditions while providing a consistent and reliable product experience.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
Building an infrastructure around the Patriot Cooler sales process was the first goal for the father/son team. Every organization wants its salespeople to be successful and close more sales, but for us, it was about much more than just selling products. We had made a commitment to help veterans returning home with injuries have their independence, and we were determined to do whatever it took to meet that goal.
We started by analyzing products on the market and their customer’s satisfaction levels, consumption habits, and the technical possibilities for improving the wants and likes for consumers.
As you can imagine, there were many roadblocks. Designing a product line involves a team with expertise in various disciples including design and production, finance, and finally manufacturing. We went through many rounds of design and redesign, develop and mold, and redevelop and remold until we found a really successful solution for a quality product, we were proud to call a “Patriot Cooler.”
Our next step was to develop alliances with highly skilled manufacturers around the globe that could provide the right level of quality and attention-to-detail necessary to allow Patriot Coolers to grow and compete in the competitive, outdoor lifestyle market.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
We knew when we started Patriot Coolers that we were going to have to be creative in order to compete, so we went back to the mounds of research we had completed and focused on giving potential customers a reason to want to switch their buying habits to the Patriot Coolers product line.
We also knew we wanted to be able to help servicemen and women returning home with lifelong battles to face on their own and that’s when decided to march forward to market with a product that could actually help others in need. Right then and there we made a choice to incorporate this element as a central part of our company story.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Be prepared to put more time & effort into your job in self-employment as you did as an employee. An entrepreneur’s job is never done, even when you work as a team.
2. Continuously educate yourself so you can be an expert in the market you specialize in and remember that you never know everything even if you think you do! In business, there are so many techniques, approaches, and methods people use to be successful that it is impossible to be an expert in or even be aware of all of them. It’s also important to stay current and change with the times, or you are likely to lose customers who are able to provide the service or products you clients need now.
3. If the process requires technical expertise, be sure to equip yourself with that knowledge and work with a team you can trust. Build a team that understands the mission and is behind you 100%. The right product is essential to your business but so are the people that work for us and the people we can help.
4. Surround yourself with a team of experts that can help you make the right decisions in Marketing, Sales, & Manufacturing. These days customers are inundated with options in every sales category, and as a small business, we need to make every advertising opportunity count. Our sales & marketing team is continuously evaluating potential opportunities for generating leads and measuring the return on the investment. We stay nimble and look for ways to get in front of our customers with the right content at the right time.
5. Securing adequate funding is one of the biggest obstacles many entrepreneurs face. Secure a solid finance backing you feel confident in so that you can initiate projects without adding additional stress on your company. Evaluate your business plans for growth and sustainability objectively and make decisions based on the best financial sense for the company’s future.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Have passion, passion, and more passion! You have to have passion & determination to reach your goals. And, always believe in your thought process in order to succeed. When in doubt, you have to rely on your inner passion. Success is not guaranteed; it has to be earned!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
As immigrants from South Africa, during a time of Economic & Political turmoil, Peter was fortunate to meet and later work for a local Houston Entrepreneur who was willing to open up and share his knowledge and resources with Peter, helping him to create exciting opportunities for his family. That relationship helped to pave the way for his, and his family’s citizenship in the United States and later their first company, a promotional products company, Hirsch Gift, that is still in operation today.
Early on, Peter’s son Paul showed great interest in growing and expanding the family business, spending most after school hours helping to develop the business into one of the countries most respected privately-owned promotional companies. Paul has graciously served as Co-founder of Patriot Coolers with his father, and mentor, Peter, who taught him the fundamentals of entrepreneurship & building a stable & successful company.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
We hope to be able to build a secure future for our family, employees (who we think of as family), and those they help through their efforts with Homes for our Troops.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
We hope to build a meaningful program that grows and fosters continuous support for Military Veterans who have risked their lives for the freedom of this great country.
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!
Having lived in a poverty-stricken country like South Africa, we would like to start a movement to improve access to education & skills training in third-world countries to help foster independence and economic opportunities for the next generation. Education remains the best way for people to escape poverty.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Facebook — facebook.com/PatriotCoolers
Instagram — instagram.com/PatriotCoolers
Twitter — twitter.com/PatriotCoolers