Sunglasses By Tower is a new division of Tower Paddle Boards. After striking a deal with Mark Cuban on Shark Tank, Tower Paddle Boards went on to be one of Cuban’s best Shark Tank investments. Tower was named The Fastest Growing Private Company in San Diego by The San Diego Business Journal with a 4 year growth rate of 2600%. Grossing $7.2 million in 2015 and pacing $10 million for 2016, Tower felt it was time to expand into the sunglasses market, and brought on Alex Resnick to lead the charge. With an 8 year career in business development, sales, and product development, Alex oversees the entire operation for Sunglasses By Tower while collaborating with Stephan, CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, on strategy and growth.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to launch your business?
Alex Resnick: We’re tired of consumers being ripped off and having limited options ourselves to buy high quality products at affordable prices. In the sunglasses industry, the prices are artificially inflated with retail mark up, and a false sense of value that accompanies a fancy label. The reality is these sunglasses just don’t cost that much to make and the majority of all sunglasses in the world come from the same handful of manufacturers. Sunglasses By Tower uses our same manufacturer direct business model that has proven successful with our Paddle Boards, to provide cost savings and a high quality product to our end customer. We source the highest quality frames, hinges, and polarized lenses and charge $59 to $95 for sunglasses that our competitors consistently charge over $200 for.
BusinessInterviews.com: What issue does your core product help solve and how so?
Alex Resnick: In addition to solving the problem of cost savings, our business model tackles the two remaining obstacles when shopping online; having too many choices and not knowing how something will fit before you buy it. With literally hundreds of sunglass styles in the market, shoppers are faced with too many options often resulting in a “paralysis by analysis” where they end up not buying anything at all. Consumers are flooded with choices, it’s simply too much to keep up with. We solve this problem by being taste makers: Every season we consult fashion blogs and understand market trends to pick the five most popular styles for today’s shades. We do the research on the back end to take the guess work out of shopping and make the decision very easy for our customers. We also provide an at home shopping experience called “shop-in-a-box.” We mail our entire store of 5 sunglasses to customers to try on for a week, they pick their favorite pair, then mail it back to us all completely free. Our customers love this because they know exactly how the sunglasses will look and feel before they make a purchase.
BusinessInterviews.com: Where do you envision your company in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Alex Resnick: With our parent company Tower Paddle Boards leading the charge, we plan to grow Tower into an all things beach lifestyle brand. Sunglasses By Tower came next because we saw a need in the massive sunglasses market, and we want to continue replicating this model to other beach lifestyle products from snorkel masks, to beach cruisers, and everything in between. Our experience has taught us that our manufacturer direct business model can be applied to wide variety of products all across the board. If we can provide value at a better price for customers while still keeping good margins, why would we conduct business any other way? Sticking to this approach, and layering in new business units each year, our goal is to grow Tower into a $100 million company with about 20 sub-brands underneath over the next 15 years.
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and business owners? What do you wish someone told you?
Alex Resnick: My advice for entrepreneurs would be around efficiency. It’s easy to feel busy all day while the reality is you’re not really moving the ball forward. Or you spend so much time planning that you don’t execute in a timely manner. Our philosophy at Tower is the 80/20 rule. What is the most amount we can get done today with minimal effort. Not minimal as in laziness, minimal in terms of efficiency. Don’t wait until your idea is perfect, just start testing and selling right away and adapt as you learn what the market wants. For entrepreneurs not entirely sure where to begin, I’d suggest taking a look at a market you see on a daily basis and ask yourself if there’s a more efficient way to do it. We took an existing industry and changed the distribution model to add value and cost savings to our customers. We didn’t reinvent the wheel, we just made it roll smoother. If you look at business through that lens, a lot of new opportunities will appear that you never saw before. As the saying goes “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
BusinessInterviews.com: What is something unique that sets your company apart?
Alex Resnick: Our company culture 100%. We eat, sleep and breathe the beach lifestyle so much that we actually implemented a 5-hour work day. All of our employees work from 8am – 1pm to give them freedom to pursue passions and hobbies outside of work. It started off as an experiment but ended up working out better than we could have imagined. The whole 8-hour work day is an outdated system. Most employees don’t get much more than 2-3 hours of real work done in their 8 hours at the office. Our philosophy is to put a time constraint on what needs to get done. People end up working much harder and faster, and we’ve actually seen productivity and profits increase as a result. All employees are on salary, so they are paid the same as they were before. By reducing the hours and also rolling out a 5% profit share at the same time, the per hour earnings of everyone on staff nearly doubled overnight. There are definitely days people work much more than 5 hours, and if we have major projects or deadlines it could easily be a 60 hour work week, but overall the 5-hour day is our reality. Think about how much harder you would work if you knew you could leave early to spend time with your kids, go surf, see your loved ones, or hit the beach on a Wednesday afternoon.
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