Jacksonville | Marion Plocica | www.extremeoutfitters.us
They have been my backbone, a support group, someone to vent to and positive reinforcement.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE EXTREME OUTFITTERS?
We are a military, law force, and tactical outdoor retailer. We have a 15,000 sf store and an online retail site that’s internationally known with over 100 vendors. Our product lines range from apparel and footwear to weapons accessories, knives and camping gear.
HOW DID YOU, AS A WOMAN, BREAK INTO THIS INDUSTRY?
Ten years ago, my son was trying to go pro in motocross and the owner of Extreme Outfitters became his sponsor. My husband and I got to know him when my son made it to the nationals and he eventually offered me a job as General Manager, so of course I accepted. I love knowing that the gear that we provide allows police officers, firemen and the military to do what they do.
Then, about two years ago, he passed away suddenly without any plan in place for the company. We were in limbo with 18 employees that had been with us for 10 to 14 years and I felt like I needed to make sure they still had a job. So, I started working with the executor to take over the company. It was really challenging. The previous owner left behind a lot of debt, two companies, one of which I needed to sell and consolidate assets. I’m really more of a behind-the-scenes person, and I’d much rather support someone else. Then the first attorney I went to looked at me and the paperwork and told me to get my resume ready. It would have been so easy to just give up at that point, but God had another plan and the thought of my employees kept me going.
HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THE SBTDC?
Obviously I found a new attorney, and she referred me. Paying off the debt was my first priority, so I began applying for an SBA loan. Not to knock it, because that loan has been a lifesaver, but it was certainly a stressful process. We had to resubmit paper work over and over and I was frustrated. My counselors came in and prepared me for the marathon. They gave me the support, the heads up, and the understanding for why things are done this way. They have been my backbone, a support group, someone to vent to and positive reinforcement. And the thing of it is, I didn’t have to pay for anything.
HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED IN THE LAST TWO YEARS?
So far it has mostly felt like survival mode, but now we’re coming out from under everything and starting to really grow. Our sales numbers are growing. We’re carrying new brands, and we’ve gotten rid of most of the excess inventory the previous owner bought in bulk. With all of the space that created, we’re constructing new offices, a conference room, an online retail area and new marketing department which will be vital in growing our business.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
I love being able to give my employees the opportunity to make this their own. I love relinquishing authority, sometimes reluctantly, only to watch them take it and be successful. Being able to say “Look, you did this!” is incredible. We are a company of people whose ideas, trials and errors have created a successful business. It’s about working hard and going home with a feeling of accomplishment.
HOW DO YOU MARKET EXTREME OUTFITTERS?
Social media is a really important strategy for us. Right now we’re having an Instagram contest. We’ve asked for video submissions and somewhere in the video needs to be our logo’d sticker. The best one receives a $500 shopping spree. So, now we have these essentially free little commercials all over Facebook and Instagram.
It is really important to me that we take care of what’s in our own backyard, so we do a lot with the community through participation and giving back and events like the Veteran Appreciation event that we hold each November in our parking lot.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE?
We just accomplished one of my biggest goals, which was to open up the option for a 401K plan for the employees. I am so excited about that.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOURSELF AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS JOURNEY?
I know it is hard and you want to be at the end, but it does get easier. It has been an incredible experience. Every time I was about to give up, the right people were there to offer the help or support I needed at that time. I won’t take any of the credit because I have an awesome team of people behind me and an awesome God leading me.
This story was originally published in the SBTDC 2014-2015 Annual Report. Click Here to view the report.
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