Gun World - - Contents - By Robb Man­ning

This T-shirt com­pany has hum­ble ori­gins, mar­ket­ing to mil­i­tary veter­ans and the gun com­mu­nity. Now, it wants all Amer­i­can pa­tri­ots on board. We sat down with the man, the beard, the leg­end—COO Tim Jensen—to talk GS, its past, present and fu­ture.

If you’re ac­tively fol­low­ing the gun com­mu­nity, you’ve no doubt heard of Grunt Style and seen its T-shirts. With a U.S. flag on one sleeve and the crossed ri­fles of the in­fantry on the other, Grunt Style’s shirts have blazed a path into the hearts and minds of mil­i­tary veter­ans and are now mov­ing into civil­ian Amer­ica. I’ve been a big fan since I found my first GS shirt: It was a bright, Ma­rine Corps red with yel­low print and adorned with the U.S.M.C. grunt ver­sion of the Ma­rine Corps motto that is of­ten used among bud­dies: the acro­nym “SFMF.”

I had the op­por­tu­nity to sit down with Tim Jensen, chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer of Grunt Style, LLC. We took some time to talk about the com­pany’s struc­ture, be­liefs and fu­ture en­deav­ors while also get­ting to know Tim’s back­ground and where his love for lon­grange shoot­ing de­vel­oped. In ad­di­tion, Tim thor­oughly ex­plained why Grunt Style is an outstanding place to work: It thrives on a sense of com­mu­nity to give em­ploy­ees nu­mer­ous ben­e­fits and also con­tin­ues to give back to the com­mu­nity.

ROBB MAN­NING: Tim, I hear you are a part­ner in a shirt com­pany. Can you tell us a lit­tle bit about that?

TIM JENSEN: Sure. Just re­cently, I’ve been made part­ner at Grunt Style. I’m the chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer of busi­ness— col­lo­qui­ally known as the “com­pany first sergeant.” You might have seen some of the videos we have up [at] called “Vi­o­lent But True: Bed­time Sto­ries.” I’ve been with the com­pany since 2013 and am one of the early mem­bers of a team of five em­ploy­ees. Now, we’re at 520. I got to see a lot of the growth of the com­pany from its be­gin­nings to its cur­rent state, and I’m heav­ily in­volved with the strat­egy mov­ing for­ward and what the com­pany is go­ing to look like in five years.

How did it all get started? When and what was the first seed that got planted to be­come Grunt Style today? And how did that first seed come to fruition?

The com­pany started in 2009; it is a very in­ter­est­ing story.

The founder, Daniel Alarik, was on the drill field at the time in the United States Army, train­ing new re­cruits. That time was com­ing to an end, be­cause he was mar­ried with a child. They were liv­ing back in Chicago, and his wife asked him to hang up his drill hat and come back home.

So, he started the tran­si­tion out, and that’s where the idea of Grunt Style be­gan. Daniel was try­ing to fig­ure out: How do I take the pride that I have in my­self, in my coun­try and in the mil­i­tary and bring that to pri­vate in­dus­try or the civil­ian mar­ket? And what other bet­ter way than by wear­ing it? So, the idea of Grunt Style re­ally came to fruition from that sense of self-pride, mil­i­tary pride and coun­try pride. And that’s re­ally the ethos of the brand right now.

Many pa­tri­ots in the gun com­mu­nity are tired of the no­tion of be­ing apolo­getic for be­ing Amer­i­can and are tired of be­ing on the “down-low” that we own and love guns. Why do you think this seg­ment has con­nected so well with Grunt Style?

Well, that’s an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion. Grunt Style is a very apo­lit­i­cal com­pany. How­ever, be­cause of what we are as a busi­ness and who we are as peo­ple who man­age and lead the busi­ness, I think there’s a lot of what we’ve taken in the pride in mil­i­tary and coun­try and brought it to the masses, be­cause Amer­ica is an ex­cep­tional coun­try. We could look through the an­nals of his­tory and the rel­a­tively short pe­riod of time of the United States’ ex­is­tence to see what we’ve been able to ac­com­plish—more than any other civ­i­liza­tion in the his­tory of mankind. We’ve brought more peo­ple out of poverty than any other civ­i­liza­tion in his­tory. And we’ve al­lowed free­doms to the peo­ple of this coun­try that have never been given to the peo­ple be­fore. Those free­doms are pro­tected by the Sec­ond Amend­ment.

What re­ally makes this coun­try unique is that we have the free­dom to say what­ever we want, in some re­gard, and we also have the free­dom to pro­tect what the founders of the coun­try have re­ally de­liv­ered to us, and that’s through the Sec­ond Amend­ment.

So, why does that tie in so neatly with Grunt Style? Once again, Grunt Style is a pa­tri­otic brand. We’re mov­ing in the di­rec­tion of be­com­ing the Amer­i­can brand. Does that fall into all things po­lit­i­cal? I don’t think so, be­cause I think be­ing an Amer­i­can is nei­ther left, right nor cen­ter. I think hav­ing a love for your coun­try is out­side of all things po­lit­i­cal, and I think peo­ple are nat­u­rally at­tracted to us be­cause our com­pany has that fer­vent pride in our coun­try. I think that re­ally at­tracted the peo­ple who have great pride in their gun rights and in the Sec­ond Amend­ment.

Speak­ing of free­dom of speech: As you men­tioned, Grunt Style has some pretty “in-your-face” de­signs on your T-shirts—some things peo­ple would con­sider vul­gar, while oth­ers re­ally con­nect with that. Who comes up with these ideas? Are they more late-night drink-fest inspired or more of a board­room col­lab­o­ra­tion?

Well, I think it’s a lot of ev­ery­thing—and some more. Any­body in the com­pany can sub­mit a de­sign or an idea. We have a team of eight graphic de­sign­ers who are re­spon­si­ble for the ma­jor­ity of ev­ery­thing you see in the prod­uct line. My­self, Daniel and Mike Birt, the CMO, have some in­flu­ence with the de­signs, as well. We have a wide va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts, from some­thing very ba­sic, like a flag and logo on the sleeve, to some­thing a lit­tle bit grit­tier for those peo­ple who would like to wear a lit­tle bit more pride on their shirts. Some of it may be a lit­tle off color, but that’s the unique side of the com­pany. We take a lot of lib­er­ties in the things that we do, and I think our con­sumer base, and our fans more im­por­tantly, re­ally en­joy that.

When touring your fa­cil­ity, we talked about the hi­er­ar­chy of your com­pany. I found it to be in­ter­est­ing how you have taken the lead­er­ship of the mil­i­tary and in­fused that into a civil­ian com­pany. Could you talk a lit­tle about that for our read­ers?

What we’ve done with the com­pany is this: The ma­jor­ity of our em­ploy­ees and our fam­ily are pre­vi­ous ac­tive-duty re­serves or veter­ans. We still have a lot of peo­ple who are in some ca­pac­i­ties of ac­tive ser­vice. What bet­ter way than to walk into an or­ga­ni­za­tion and un­der­stand ex­actly how it [op­er­ates] by repli­cat­ing some­thing that we’ve all done for a pe­riod of time. So, any­body with pre­vi­ous mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence walk­ing into the com­pany can un­der­stand clearly: rank, struc­ture, or­ga­ni­za­tion, what my mis­sions are, my task or­ga­ni­za­tion, What are my left and right lat­eral lim­its? and How am I be­ing mea­sured? What does “suc­cess” look like to me?

We’ve done an ex­tremely awe­some job at build­ing these teams and build­ing these “com­pa­nies” within the busi­ness. These com­pa­nies look like our head­quar­ters el­e­ment to Al­pha, Bravo, Char­lie, Delta—all of our line units. And those line units have a dif­fer­ent task and pur­pose. Al­pha Com­pany, for ex­am­ple, would be con­sid­ered our sales force. Bravo, Char­lie and Delta com­pa­nies would be our sup­port­ing el­e­ments through man­u­fac­tur­ing, pro­duc­tion and ful­fill­ment.

We have some in­tra­group ri­val­ries that hap­pen, just like any other mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion. There’s a lot of fun that comes with it, as well as the or­ga­ni­za­tional in­fra­struc­ture. Hav­ing a rank is some­thing that is a very clear for peo­ple. For ex­am­ple, as the “com­pany first sergeant”—the se­nior leader of Grunt Style just un­der the owner—my re­spon­si­bil­ity is to make sure the op­er­a­tion is run­ning all the time, much like the du­ties and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of a first sergeant of any line com­pany.

We have PFCs; we have sergeants. Our NCO core in­side of the com­pany—much like the mil­i­tary—is the strong­est core lead­er­ship and has the abil­ity to make crit­i­cal de­ci­sions at its dis­cre­tion. We have a faith and con­fi­dence that through good train­ing and men­tor­ship, they can make those de­ci­sions and do them in the best in­ter­est of the com­pany and the ob­jec­tives in front of them.

Tell us, who buys Grunt Style shirts? The ob­vi­ous peo­ple would be veter­ans, but I know there’s prob­a­bly a lot of other peo­ple who buy them as well.

Not only do we sell in e-com­merce, but we have a very outstanding whole­sale out­fit. We’re in thou­sands of stores across the United States. When the com­pany first started, we were do­ing very well with the vet­eran and ac­tive-duty com­mu­nity, but as the com­pany has con­tin­ued to grow with the part­ner­ships that we have made, [such as the] NHL, NFL, NASCAR, UFC, we’re start­ing to see that we’re at­tract­ing peo­ple who are far be­yond the first de­gree of our de­mo­graphic. And we’re see­ing [in­ter­est from] peo­ple who

don’t even have mil­i­tary fam­ily mem­bers or are from ar­eas of the coun­try that typ­i­cally would not align with what our com­pany stands for and the prod­ucts we pro­duce.

What is unique about our com­pany is that we’re able to tran­scend all those spec­trums and re­ally de­liver a good-qual­ity Amer­i­can brand, busi­ness and prod­uct that ex­em­plify the pride we have in our­selves, our mil­i­tary and our coun­try.

Do you have any­thing else you’d like to share about the com­pany?

Well, I think the fu­ture of the com­pany is go­ing to be very ex­cit­ing for all the fans out there. If you’re not buy­ing from Grunt Style right now, I sug­gest that you do, be­cause you’re miss­ing out on some great stuff and great pro­grams, like our club ser­vice.

The next cou­ple of years ahead of us are go­ing to be truly ex­tra­or­di­nary. You’re go­ing to see some new prod­ucts that are be­ing made right here, in the United States, through our cu­tand-sew fa­cil­i­ties. Help us grow, con­tinue to sup­port us and the brand, and put veter­ans and pa­tri­ots to work, be­cause ul­ti­mately, that is what we’re try­ing to do—ex­pand the op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple in busi­ness and train lead­ers. I do ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­body sup­port­ing us so far. One of the com­ments made when we were touring your fa­cil­ity was about your ini­tia­tive to bring more and more of your pro­duc­tion to the United States, in­clud­ing buy­ing for­eign ma­chines and bring­ing them here. Could you ex­plain that ra­tio­nale to our view­ers?

This is some­thing that we en­coun­tered early this year—a per­va­sive prob­lem for decades, if not longer. A lot of busi­nesses off-shore their pro­duc­tion to max­i­mize profit. But is that re­ally help­ing the Amer­i­can eco­nomic sys­tem? We talk about this a lot in­side Grunt Style, and ear­lier this year, we saw a tar­get of op­por­tu­nity to move this PVC process on­line. We’ve no­ticed there aren’t many com­pa­nies in the United States that are do­ing this. So, we got the in­ge­nious idea to go out and buy a Chi­nese ma­chine, bring it into the United States and start steal­ing work away from China. We’ve been run­ning that process very ef­fi­ciently for about six months now.

The next ini­tia­tive Grunt Style is work­ing to­ward is that Amer­i­can brand. We’re go­ing to open a cut-and-sew fa­cil­ity in San An­to­nio, where we’re go­ing to man­u­fac­ture our own gar­ments. What that is go­ing to do is pro­vide more op­por­tu­nity, bring more of the la­bor back to the United States, pro­vide more op­por­tu­ni­ties for some of these eco­nom­i­cally de­pressed ar­eas where I’ve seen jobs just van­ish be­cause they’re go­ing over­seas.

IGrunt Style COO Tim Jensen takes a mo­ment from his busysched­ule to talk with us.

I Grunt Style’s head­quar­ters are lo­cated in Carol Stream, Illi­nois—a Chicago sub­urb.

This is where the magic hap­pens—the Grunt Style team, hard at work.I

Grunt Style went from five em­ploy­ees in 2013 to a grow­ing com­pany that cur­rently em­ploys more than 500 em­ploy­ees.I

Happy em­ploy­ees: Grunt Style pays in the top 10 per­cent in its in­dus­try. Em­ploy­ees re­ceive pro­grams such as profit-shar­ing, ex­cel­lent health­care ben­e­fits and an ag­gres­sive 401K.I

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.