In this interview, Matt Bulloch discusses his experiences as an operations leader, including the importance of flexibility and continual improvement. He also talks about some of his company's failures and his desire to acquire other manufacturing companies in the future. The interview also briefly touches on the tools his team cannot live without.
Matt Bulloch is the President and Owner of Tent Craft, a manufacturer of outdoor advertising supplies. In this interview, he shares his unconventional career path and the challenges he faced when starting his own company.
A Non-Traditional Career Path to Starting a Company
Matt's career path has been anything but conventional. Before graduating college at the age of 24, he spent time as a wildland firefighter, worked in the military at a prison in Guantanamo Bay, and did investment banking in New York. However, it was his stepfather's digital print company that led him to his current position at Tent Craft.
The Challenges of Starting a Manufacturing Company
Starting Tent Craft was not without its challenges. One of the biggest hurdles was Matt's lack of experience in the tent industry. However, he quickly learned that hiring the right people and trusting them to do their jobs was key to success. He also emphasized the importance of vertical integration, which allowed Tent Craft to control its manufacturing process and create jobs in its local community.
The Importance of Company Culture
Matt is passionate about the culture he has created at Tent Craft. He takes pride in manufacturing products that allow clients to bring their big ideas to life. He also values the company's ability to customize products and create new ones based on market demand. Most importantly, he values the team of individuals who work tirelessly to make Tent Craft successful.
Technology’s Role in the Future of Manufacturing
In manufacturing, Matt believes technology is absolutely central. As he says,
“It allows us to control the cables in which we manufacture products, and so it speeds up the customization and building of new products. It also helps to control quality and generate different reports and alerts when something is out of whack. Technology is also crucial for the customer experience. Customers aren't willing to deal with a lot of friction, so for US manufacturers to be competitive, it's necessary for products to be a little bit more complex and expensive, with rapid delivery, or require customization or improvement that the customer expects. By having really good systems and processes, we can automate a lot of the machining, automatic cutting, and even printing, which used to require a person's role.”