David Farbman's keys to filling the talent pool Featured

8:01pm EDT August 31, 2011
David Farbman David Farbman

Since founding the company that is now Outdoor Hub LLC in 2007, CEO David Farbman has been in growth mode. His efforts have paid off, as the online platform for outdoor enthusiasts generated $10 million in 2010 revenue.

But growth can be a dou

ble-edged sword, providing challenges along with opportunity. Farbman has had to keep his leadership team a step ahead of growth, by structuring the organization to better react to the needs of growth.

Smart Business spoke with Farbman about how he’s maintained room to grow and how you can stay ready for growth at your business.

How has your company’s management structure positioned it for growth?

Historically, as we were starting to kind of grow the business, people were wearing multiple hats on a regular basis. As we were growing the business, we did get recapitalized in April 2010. After that, we really started to staff up and hire more experienced, specialized talent. So the weight of the management structure is set up today, it’s actually unlike anything I’ve run in the businesses in my career. We have people that are what we call a T1 and T2 responsibility.

T1 implies our leadership team, and that leadership team meets on a weekly basis with a very strong cadence that is focused on doing that every Monday, first thing before the day kicks off.

We have seven people on that leadership team, and each person is responsible for what we call T2, which is essentially their pillar of the business. It could be metrics and financials. It could be sales, it could be trafficking and ad operations, it could be new revenue, it could be content. Those people report up to me.

How does that setup help things run more efficiently?

It does two things. It creates an allegiance at the T1 level that basically says to someone on the T1 team, your first allegiance is to this leadership team, there is no ego on this leadership team, there is an ability to make decisions as a team and push things forward. It allows for us to work in a cohesive way on a regular basis, where synergistically we can take an issue to the other people on that team and get a technology perspective, get a marketing and research perspective. It allows us to be able to hash out an issue and then keep moving.

How do you foster a collaborative mindset within a team?

It has to start with the person at the top of the organization. You have to believe in a very authentic style of leadership with a lot of transparency, and you can’t believe ego is very productive for results. It does start there.

You’re looking for people that want to work toward a greater cause and put their energy toward creating something great, and not looking for self-fulfillment at each turn. At the same time, it always has to be regularly coached, and you have to have a very open table. If someone has an issue with me, they can just about tell me to ‘F-off,’ and I wouldn’t care, as long as it was moving the company forward. We try to clear issues quickly, and having that T1 level allows you to clear issues quickly.

What would you tell other business leaders about managing a high-growth company?

No. 1 is, providing you can afford to do it, you need to staff slightly ahead of the growth. You need to begin to do your all to specialize people more, so that the company becomes more scalable and areas can be molded as the company grows. You need to upgrade your systems, both from a technical level as well as a procedural level. We’re trying to do that each day. By no means are we in a perfect place, but we always have a constant desire to try and improve that.

How to reach: Outdoor Hub LLC, (248) 663-4440 or www.outdoorhubmedia.com