Skullcandy CEO Jeremy Andrus has been on a whirlwind tour that began with a trip to Kandahar, Afghanistan before a three week investor road show, climaxing with his company’s debut on the NASDAQ on July 20. Since that point, Andrus has been splitting his time between Skullcandy’s San Clemente, California and Park City, Utah offices, a great foundation for his surfing and snowboarding, to coordinate with his team and build on their global growth strategies.
Andrus, who has lived all over the world including the East Coast, California, the Midwest, UK, and Italy, joined Skullcandy in 2004 after getting an undergrad at BYU and an MBA at Harvard, and has helped grow the brand since it was a fledgling sub-million dollar company.
After nearly seven months of radio silence surrounding Skullcandy’s IPO period, we had a chance to catch up with CEO Jeremy Andrus by phone from his Park City, Utah office and discuss the IPO process, its lessons, Founder Rick Alden’s resignation as CEO, and the brand’s post-IPO goals.
As a Harvard MBA, what brought you to Skullcandy and got you involved with Rick and the brand?
At the time I was living in San Francisco working for Kimpton Hotels. I was doing strategic planning and real estate finance. I loved the company and product, but I was at a moment in my career where I was feeling a bit bored. I got a call from a buddy back in DC, and he left a voicemail telling me to check out this company called Skullcandy, he thought they had a lot of potential.
I’m thinking “Skullcandy? That’s not really where I see my career going. A candy company?” I was envisioning Halloween and chocolate skulls. This was back in 2004 and the company was tiny at the time. I checked out the Website and it had a pretty cool vibe. I came out to Park City and went riding the next weekend and met some of the guys and left thinking, “what a cool brand.” It wasn’t really in my career path though, I didn’t have a background in electronics, hadn’t spent time in China, but it just felt like one of those opportunities to chase something that was more exciting than what I was doing.
A couple weeks later I packed the Ford Explorer and moved into my parent’s basement in Park City, Utah.
Rick definitely had an amazing vision, I’m sure it was super fun to be part of it on the front end.
It really was. Rick is a great entrepreneur. We wouldn’t be here today, not only for his vision, but entrepreneurs are really important in driving the culture and the brand.
It’s funny, when I saw my buddies from business school, we get together and golf once a year, when I had just joined, they were all giving me a hard time. Theyr’e all investment bankers and private equity guys and making big bucks and I moved back in my parents’ basement and wasn’t getting a salary because the company couldn’t afford to pay me. They loved it. It’s funny how it came full circle. In 2009, all the bankers and private equity guys were either hating their jobs or unemployed and Skullcandy was having its best year ever. It turned out OK.
Why did Rick decide to leave during the IPO process?
Rick in his heart is an entrepreneur. He and I had discussions over time about me someday taking over the business. As the company got bigger and got in the IPO process, I think he said “there are other entrepreneurial enterprises I’d like to focus on. I don’t think I’ll be sitting in a public CEO seat for the next five years—it’s time to do something different.”
From a timing standpoint, in the middle of an IPO was probably not ideal, but better before than after. You go out and pitch a management team and then take investor money, that’s tough. Frankly Rick is working on a couple other ventures and I think he’s loving what he’s doing.
With Stance and some other things?
Talk a little bit about your management style and why Rick saw you as a good choice to fill that role once he moved on, especially while you’re going public.
When you spend six years with someone with a lot of time and travel, you get to know the person pretty well. Rick and I have very different styles. I think you’d be hard pressed to find people that are as different as we are. We really complimented each other as we built the business. Rick knew me well, he trusted me, he’d seen the success that I’d had in helping build the business and first and foremost building a team and managing a team in an organization. I think he saw that I had the trust and the respect of the people in the organization, it was a fairly natural transition. It was fairly seamless in that I knew the business so well, I joined when it was doing less than a million bucks in sales and had really been ther at every step in the process of building the product line, the brand, the infrastructure, in China, the US, internationally. There really wasn’t a lot of question, at least that I was part of in terms of where the business was going from a leadership standpoint just because he’d seen what I was able to do.