We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Mayo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
At Last Exit Goods, the core value that drives us is, simply, exceptional service. It’s the art behind the science. When you boil it down, we sell a story with our products. That hopefully sets the stage to a long relationship with our customers. I’m always blown away how each of their stories and sharing of their experience with our company helps us grow organically in that old-fashioned, word-of-mouth way.
To me, service is such a huge thing that has been lost in the “one-click/two-day shipping” engagement most are accustomed to these days. But it’s the simplest thing in the world: we treat our customers like they mean something to us, because they mean everything. Even as we’ve grown over the past eight years, one of the things that remains so vitally important to maintain is the personal touch. There are humans on the other end of everything we do: our products are handmade, there’s someone behind our email addresses and phone numbers (many times, it’s me!), and I have always been inspired by other brands that show that they just plain give a crap when someone makes a purchase. Every time is a vote of confidence in what you’re doing, which is never tiresome for me. I still hand-write personal notes with every online order, and we try and include some small “extras” in our shipments to hopefully inspire some element of surprise when they open their package. It’s definitely not the easiest way to do things, but it’s the only way we know how to roll. Otherwise, we become a seller of a commodity, and where’s the story in that?
What should our readers know about your business?
Being a values-driven company means standing for something. For Last Exit, it’s about the wild places we love. Businesses have real power – and the trick is using it for good. As a smaller company, it’s tougher to make the economics work to have, you know, a percentage of each sale go to this organization or that organization. It can certainly be done. But for us, it’s made sense to be a part of a community of other like-minded businesses which has power in the collective, and that’s the Conservation Alliance. This group of 250+ businesses come together with money and collective voice to advocate for protection and expansion of public lands for recreation and conservation purposes. I’ve worked with them for many years – and the lasting impact the group has had on protecting rivers and wild places in North America is incredible. I also feel thankful to have worked for, and learned from, Clif Bar founder Gary Erickson for a good while, nearly 10 years. It’s one thing to be a founder of a legendary company, write a book and have a public-face that espouses the idea of being a values-driven organization, but that guy is the real deal. His integrity and passion for using business for good – and inspiring those around him to get on the train – is the reason I worked for him for so long.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Steamboat Springs is a quiet little mountain town that is far away from the city madness, and glad of it. I’m pretty spoiled in the outdoor opportunities that lay at my feet on a daily basis – so it’s what I’d focus on as a highlight of the “best time ever” – whether it’s a day skiing at Steamboat Resort, followed by apres beers at T-Bar; or shredding single-track on our own town-adjacent Shangri-La, Emerald Mountain. Keeping with tradition, we’d have to follow that up with beers at The Barley downtown.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to give a shoutout to my Dad, Rick. He worked in retail management throughout his entire career, including a long stint at The Home Depot. He would always make a point with me as a kid about how the most successful companies are the ones who shine brightly in the customer experience game. He espoused the philosophy at Home Depot of the importance of having store associates as the face of the company’s experience. There are many places that sell wood and paint brushes and light bulbs – so the associate is charged with helping to make the customer feel like the most important person in the store, every time. When that customer comes into the store needing help finding a specific item in that huge space, every associate is trained to drop what they’re doing to personally walk the customer to the item, creating a trust and a memorable experience along the way. That has in many ways defined (and spoiled) my own experiences with companies throughout my life, because I have come to feel that there is a right and a wrong way to be treated as a customer. It’s a philosophy I subscribe to wholeheartedly. Thanks, Pop.