Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Five Years ... and Counting!

2007 Original Catalog
By Peter Gasca, Co-Founder and CEO Wild Creations

Last week marked the five year anniversary for Wild Creations!  And, like any proud parent, all I can do is ask myself … Where did the time go???

When my business partner and Wild Creations' Co-Founder, Rhett Power, and I started this business in March 2007, we of course had big aspirations.  Our goal was not to run a company simply to “make a living” for each of our families, but instead to establish and nurture an exciting and adventurous business that attracted partners who shared our passion for life and desire to make an impact.  It seemed a pretty straight forward and altruistic goal.  Really, what could go wrong?

Direct from a business consulting job and relatively fresh from graduate school, I was ready to implement and apply all of the fancy frameworks and 4x4 matrices I had studied diligently in business school and had applied thousands of times over.  I was high on life, ripe with knowledge, and ready to conquer any problem we faced. 
2008-2009 Catalog

Then, in our first week of operations, our office flooded.

While not terribly damaging to our office, water seeped into our neighbor’s office and damaged their carpet and furniture.  The fault was our own, so unfortunately we were responsible for cleaning.  It turned out to be a costly issue for which, of course, we had failed to appropriately budget.  So became my first lesson in business: Nothing goes according to plan, no matter how many contingencies you have built into your business plan.  From there, it was goodbye matrices and frameworks … hello "winging it".

2010 Catalog
Since then, we have had innumerable hard (and expensive) trials and tribulations, though all provided valuable (and expensive) lessons learned.  The challenges seemed to have culminated in 2008 with the collapse of the global financial markets.  Up to that point, we were making satisfactory progress building our brand and establishing our reputation, but as other businesses struggled and financing dried up completely, "Cash is King" took on a whole new significance.  We found ourselves relegated to the simple task of generating cash in any way possible, including attending every possible trade show that would allow live frogs and hitting the road for sales and deliveries.  For the first two years of the business, we compiled an estimated 300,000 driving miles (not to mention countless bedbugs in our search for "economic" lodging along the way).  It was not an effective way of doing business to say the least, but we did what we had to do to keep the doors open.

2011 Catalog
A break came in early 2009 when, at the enthusiastic encouragement of one of our oldest  accounts, CR Toys in Nebraska, we took the plunge and attended the InternationalToy Fair in New York.  Our growth strategy had always included the expanding nationally with a focus in the toy industry, but we were grossly under-capitalized and unprepared for such growth.  We were, after all, too busy “making a living” to focus on our business growth strategy.  As with most of our business decisions to that point, we figured we had little to lose and would just "wing it".  We registered and attended.  The show turned out to be wildly more successful than we could have ever dreamed.

The rest, as they say, is history.

In spite of the comedy of errors that followed (for a different story), we grew and grew fast over the next couple of years.  Growth was not without its growing pains, but thanks to the incredibly dedicated and hard-working team at Wild Creations, we endured.  Our growth was recognized by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce as the fastest growing company in South Carolina in 2010 and in 2011 by the US Chamber of Commerce as a Blue Ribbon Finalist.  In 2011, Wild Creations was INC500's #259 fastest growing private companies in America.  And while I am proud of all these accomplishments, I am most elated about the tremendous friendships and memories we formed along the way.

2012 Catalog
Moving forward, our goal remains the same.  We will continue to strive to introduce great products and provide unsurpassed service, all with the same fun-loving, adventure-seeking and easily-excitable attitude we’ve had from the start.  While we may be "old" in terms of small businesses, we are no less youthful in our exuberance.

"In 5 more years it'll be TWICE as big!"
Thank you and kudos to all of our loyal fans, our valued retailers and vendors, and of course all the fantastic members of the Wild Creations team who have made these past five years successful and memorable! Thank you also to Rhett Power for being a fantastic partner in this adventure!

Cheers to another memorable and successful five years!  - Pete G.

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