Welcome to the first episode of Stories from the River!
In this inaugural episode of Stories from the River podcast, Charlie Malouf, CEO of Broad River Retail welcomes his business partner and company COO, Manny Rodrigues.
Charlie and Manny discuss company history, strategies, and plans for the future, and we learn quite a bit about Manny’s personal vision, his routines, and recommendations.
Stories from the River Podcast explores the personal journeys of Broad River Retail’s very own Memory Makers. Whether it’s interviews or standalone narratives, Stories from the River will bring you closer to what it’s like to thrive inside the company. This show will share personal experiences from stores, distribution centers, call centers, and corporate campuses, giving listeners a front row seat to what it’s really like to be a Memory Maker furnishing life’s best memories every day.
Unknown Speaker Join Charlie Maloof, as he explores the personal journeys of Broad River retails very old memory makers. Welcome to stories from the river.
Charlie Malouf Welcome to season one episode one of stories from the river podcast. Wow, for the first episode had to bring on my business partner, our Chief Operating Officer, Manny Rodriguez. Manny, welcome to the pod.
Manny Rodriguez Thank you, Charlie, thank you so much for having me. What an honor. What an honor to be part of this journey with you.
Charlie Malouf Oh, it’s It’s my honor is is Mine and Ours. Manny way we want to get started here with these with these episodes is just to tell our audience a little bit about you, you got a great background and story. And tell us about your just start with your career prior to coming to the river?
Manny Rodriguez Sure. I’m glad to Thanks for the question. So prior, prior to coming to Broad River, I spent 15 years in corporate America with Bank of America with Liberty Mutual. And it was great it was it was an amazing experience experience that really helped shape a lot of skills and professional development for me. And so I got to travel quite a bit and did some international relations, got to travel to 30 Different countries in a matter of couple of years. So just really enjoyed that time to really kind of just learn more about myself, but also just kind of expand and grow.
Charlie Malouf Wow, 30 countries in a couple of years in 15 years in the corporate world. That’s that’s a, we got a lot of experience when we got you when you came on board. Okay, so you’ve been with broad river now for a little bit over seven years, November 2014. He joined us in to take us through your career path, and you didn’t start as an owner. But take us through your career path with the company thus far, including when you became an owner and how all that came to
Manny Rodriguez fruition. Yeah, well, it’s it’s pretty amazing story and journey, just actually arriving here at the river. I remember I had an opportunity my family and I to move out to the West Coast. And we had already moved to Boston and I grew up in New England. And so we had moved around. And we settled back into Charlotte, and I love the Carolinas love this place called Charlotte. And it is where really, we wanted to continue to raise our family or two young boys at that time. And so the West Coast really wasn’t where we wanted to go. And so I reached out at that point, several friends in the industry and talk to Jonathan, there. Remember that coffee breakfast? I remember that afternoon meeting you at Caribou Coffee, and how many questions you had. You do like to ask questions. So this is you guys. I couldn’t think of a better a better thing for you to be doing this year than this, these podcasts. And it was so it was so cool. So cool. And literally a week later, I’m joining Broad River.
Charlie Malouf Yeah, I remember that interview. Well, I don’t know if I remember all the questions. But we’re gonna have fun with some questions today. We got a lot of them queued up for you. It was the first time I think we interviewed someone. And Jonathan said, don’t wait till tomorrow interview this guy today. And Jonathan and I had known you and so excited and happy to have you in gralen decided to kind of stay and so but what you started in what role? And then how do you become an owner? Yeah.
Manny Rodriguez Well, interestingly enough, first question, I asked Jonathan as well, where do you need me? Like where can I? Where can I help? And he said, we’ve had a really tough time being staffed. And in retail if we if we’re not staffed? Well, we’re going to disappoint our guests. We’re going to disappoint each other. And so can you help us there. And so I started in talent as a director of talent, and just really focused on people. And it was great. It was a it was a really interesting vantage point to get to see the company and learn more about our people. And then from there really just grew, one of the things that we love, is we like to see healthy things grow. And we know that career paths are a big part of it. And so I went from a director of talent to then VP of human capital to then RSVP. And then of course on to be our current CEO. Oh, wow, that’s
Charlie Malouf amazing. Love that career trajectory. Hey, do you remember your first day with the company?
Manny Rodriguez I tell the story of my first day because as you know, first days a memorable. It’s what we kind of look back towards. And my first day, Jonathan spent the full day with me which which, which was very impactful, and I really enjoyed it. But it was interesting to think back on where he took me and what he chose to show me. He took me to our outlet on South Boulevard, and walked me around. And and he said, This is where we have a lot of opportunity. If you look at every piece of furniture here, it has a story on things and process improvement on things that we got wrong and how we disappointed not only our people, but our guests and so on. really spend a lot of time looking back at that information, trying to understand well, how do we how do we how do we get better? How do we get better every day? How can we look at our process at our people and say, let’s let’s, let’s do better today?
Charlie Malouf Yeah, it’s really interesting, because when you started, the outlet wasn’t like the outlet rebirths. In the iterations that we had, it’s not the outlet of today, it was really just a Clearance Center at that time. And we’re gonna have most Sutter yo, on the podcast here in a few weeks. And in he he’s got a great story, an outlet story. I mean, he was there. From day one, we moved it from Matthews to to South Boulevard. So that’ll be a great episode in here in a few weeks. Okay, shifting gears a little bit. We’ve got this department called human capital. And, you know, it used to be called Human Resources. What’s the big deal about a name? When did that come about? What’s the difference to someone? Who thinks it’s just the same thing? Just but a different word?
Manny Rodriguez Yeah, that’s a great question. Well, names, names are important. Language is cultural. And so human resources is still it still has a place. But for us and in industry, the shift to human capital has really been a lot more prevalent. And really, that came from the years in corporate America, all the companies I’ve worked with had made that change from human resources to human capital. And it was interesting back in my consulting days, when we’d go in, and even as an entry level, associate and kind of try to understand the problems that the executives are walking us through. And what really resonated with me over and over and over again, was, these are eloquent strategies really, really well thought out strategies. The piece that’s missing is the people that make it happen. The folks on the frontlines, the folks in the, in our cube world are working from home remotely, like they have names. So the riches the Mary’s, the Barbara’s of the world, like, it’s, it’s, they’re the ones that make it happen. And so, moving from human resources, which if you think about the word resource, it really is shows up as a liability, right? We resources, something you use up and capital, well, what do you think about capital capital, something you invest in, right, and you want that to grow? And so it became really obvious. And it became really obvious that it starts with people. And in order to really start with folks, you got to invest in them. I
Charlie Malouf really love what you said, there. It’s about like, not just having the eloquent strategy that looks great on paper, but you got to have the memories in the job to execute it. That’s, that’s what we’re gonna have these stories from the river, that’s what this is all about is to understand people’s real life stories who are making the strategies come to life. Okay. But we’ve done a little bit, something a little bit unique. Now within our human capital department. We have a Memory Maker experience department in MX. I mean, first of all, what’s a Memory Maker?
Manny Rodriguez Well, Memory Maker does is is one of our colleagues. It’s one of our employees. And so like I said, language is cultural. And so we instead of calling folks, our employees, our frontline workers or associates, or we give them a name, that their name their memory makers, they help us furnish life’s best memories.
Charlie Malouf That’s awesome. A branded name. Okay, great. So now MMX how that come about? What are the purpose? Well, I mean, what are the purpose and goals of the Memory Maker experience department?
Manny Rodriguez So part of that is just we kind of have taken some cues from from Apple, Apple likes to iterate year over year, the iPhone 405060. And so yeah, human capital was one Oh, for us making that switch from human resources to human capital. But really moving on now, as far as to Oh is investing in? Or what does that experience for all of our memory makers look like? What it would, what would it be like to have a department that was focused on the day one experience all the way through your 60 days, your onboarding, and your two year anniversary, your 10 year anniversary? All these noticeable moments that sometimes you just get an email or what if we had a really thoughtful and intentional strategy that helped highlight those, and that’s where MMX came from, it’s really focused on our experience for our for our memory makers.
Charlie Malouf Sounds like it’s a pretty big task. There is pretty critical tasks that all the checkpoints is minds me the book, The Power of moments and looking for those flagship moments and those milestone moments along the candidates are an employee’s journey and memory makers journey with us. Okay, we’ve talked a little bit about human capital and in in that just sticking with that people for it, let’s talk about talent density. I know you love this phrase. And I’m gonna give an acronym MD MMS, which are million dollar remedy makers. So you’ve been instrumental in building our talent density and the company from day one. Yeah, that’s where Jonathan said, hey, that’s where we need some help. And it’s still true today. We got you We still need to continue to work still in the war for talent, right then everyone hears about today, one of the ways that we see our talent thriving is with our million dollar Memory Maker program. So I want to talk to you a little bit about that. We’ve seen since you started, and I want want to get your perspective on this stratospheric growth and exponential success in this program, growing from a single million dollar writer in 2014, the year you joined the company to $91 million memory makers last year. Okay, to talk about why you believe we’ve continued to thrive in this area, and why we’ve seen such growth.
Manny Rodriguez Yeah, well, that’s another great question. You know, I actually like to learn via stories. And so I’m really excited about this podcast journey, because, for me, like what a blessing to be able to learn about someone’s story or learn about how something came about. And so for this specific point of the million dollar memory makers, it really started in 14 started with understanding that we had, we had one, we had one person there, Kenny Fisher and Fayetteville. He was our million dollar Memory Maker at that point. And we didn’t even call it that at that point. But But we soon change that, what we knew was we were going to win with people, and in retail to have that amazing guest experience, and to be the retail company that we know we can be. We needed to add amazing talent every day, to our conversations with folks with prospects with recruits, internally looking at folks who might want to take on this opportunity. And so we really set forth a goal of increasing that number year over year. And really, in 2017, we made a huge step forward, we hired Heather Greenwood. She oversees the department today. And she really has added that robust strategy of intentionality and thoughtfulness into growing this program. She we’ve given out cruises, we’ve we’ve handed out cars to several folks, this past year, as you know, we’ve had not just one but two, first time ever to $2 million writers. And so back in 2014 2015 16, we were just trying to get million dollar writers. Now. Now we’re getting to a place where we have folks achieving the $2 million mark. And so it’s a really incredible program, really proud of the program. And I’ll tell you, it, we’re not done yet. We’re not done yet. You’re going to hear that a lot today. For me, I still believe we’re at the base of this mountain. And for us this year, what does what does that next journey or next step next iteration look like? Well, it looks like moving to customer experience moving to operations to other parts of our company, where that million dollar writer program should exist as well and have programs for all of our top top talent to really enjoy and all the benefits that come with it.
Charlie Malouf Well, that’s a great answer. And so we’re gonna have Heather on the pod next week. And so we’re gonna ask her the same thing about the program. So thank you for mentioning Heather and Heather Greenwood is our Associate Director of the Memory Maker experience department and, and you mentioned a $2 million writer, we had to $2 million memory makers, and we’re gonna have hopefully both of them but we’ll have Frank on in a couple of weeks as well. Frank gasps alum,
Manny Rodriguez just I’ll make the perfect first guest for you. Just giving you softballs for the rest of the year. Your series here, you’re
Charlie Malouf definitely teeing us up. You are the perfect first guest. Okay. People in culture, I’m gonna shift gears a little bit. You talk a lot about our people that we’re that we are a people company, a lot of company, a lot of companies say that these days, what is it specifically about Broad River that differentiates us as a people centric company?
Manny Rodriguez Yeah. Well, you’re right, it looks good on a bumper sticker definitely looks good on a LinkedIn ad. It’s got to be authentic. It’s got to be rooted in how we make decisions. And so I know that in all of our decisions, we start with what does this mean for people? What’s the impact on our people, and coming out of this COVID or being in this COVID pandemic? And now kind of getting towards the tailor? And that was always question number one. How will our folks respond to this? How will they benefit from this? Will this keep them safe? And so I think the authenticity around how we go about making decisions, that’s what keeps it real for us. And I also tell over memory makers, ask questions, ask questions, participate, be an active participant, if there’s a there’s a strategy if there is a process that is rolled out that maybe it’s not adding up for you, well, like, ask us about it, because I can I can assure you, we will gladly walk you through the why behind it. And once you get to know the why you’ll start to see that it’s, it’s it’s always has, it always comes from a people centric lens.
Charlie Malouf That’s great. So really connecting the authenticity and being able to be open and transparent to let’s figure out how we can decisions and asking those questions of the impact to the Memory Maker. First and foremost. Got it? That’s a great answer. Okay. See clearly light up when you talk about the success of our people. Where did this passion for people and other successes come from?
Manny Rodriguez The relational aspect really started, really from mom and dad, just knowing how much they enjoyed being relational, being intentional, and knowing that, hey, if there’s something that I can help you with today, and that can benefit you in the future, like, mission accomplished, like, that’s great, just constantly moving it forward. And so, retail, one of the things that you and Jonathan mentioned early on is, you got to be careful with this retail thing, like, it gets into your blood. Like, we’re selling furniture here, what what are you talking about? And you’re right, like, it does get into a lot of this, this retail industry of just constantly looking to get better. It does get into your blood, it becomes it becomes becomes a passion project. And, and knowing that it’s so competitive, it goes back to our people. And so I just for me, it always starts and ends with our people. Yeah, I
Charlie Malouf love the relational aspect. I mean, your parents are from the old world, as my mom is from overseas as well. And so I think they bring a lot of that that old school mentality, that relational hospitality, to probably our own upbringing. And, and I think I hear that from from others who we deal with as well. It’s also seeing our people get better, you know, seeing them improve is got to be impactful. Okay, so I know, clearly, we’re going to be biased on this next question. But we believe that our culture at the river is unique in really special. Our baby is precious. So what what is your favorite thing about our culture here at the river? And what do you think makes it so special?
Manny Rodriguez Of course, of course, we’re going to be biased on this one. And rightfully so I think what makes us unique and special is, is our perseverance, our determination, yeah, that our culture will withstand. And so that for us going through, we could have a whole nother episode, on all the things that we’ve gone through over the past three to four years. And we’ve, we’ve tackled him head on, knowing that as long as as long as our folks are okay, or people are okay, we’re taking care of our memory makers, our memory makers, not not once have they disappointed us yet. They continue to rise to the occasion. And, and that’s that’s what he’s, it’s Jim Collins has the flywheel. Right. And so, right now, the flywheel is moving pretty, pretty strong.
Charlie Malouf We just heard Manny say he’s coming back for a second episode of second interview. All right. We just completed as a company, our comprehensive enterprise wide engagement survey this past fall, what something that you didn’t expect, that surprised you from the engagement survey? Our Town Halls,
Manny Rodriguez the response on how beneficial on how our folks engaged with the town hall, just having that monthly crisp communication, we’ve had to figure out a whole new way to communicate with our folks and our people, our memory makers being being remote, and especially with all the updates that we constantly have. And so the townhall feedback has been great. And I think it’s also pushed us to continue to get better during our town halls, having a crisper agenda, making sure we have the right departments represented and keeping the information active and robust. So I was really excited and surprised to hear as much feedback around the town halls.
Charlie Malouf Yeah, that one got me as well. Okay, so let’s flip it the other side, what is something from the engagement survey that reaffirmed what you already knew about Broad River?
Manny Rodriguez That’s a purpose. There’s there’s a lot of intentionality with responses around fulfilling purpose and feeling connected to our our collective purpose of furnishing life’s best memories. And so even even during a really difficult time period, that purpose that living breathing, still still remain pretty strong, which which I’m really, really excited to say,
Charlie Malouf Yeah, I agree. You know, everyone’s got a point of view about a company from the outside looking in. What do you think is something about Broad River that would surprise others from the outside looking for maybe a misperception or something?
Manny Rodriguez Perception? Well, as I talked to payers and colleagues in the industry, they constantly like to say, like, you guys, I feel like feel like you’ve been planning for this for years. And you got it all worked out. It just seems so seamless, and I constantly will remind him not quite, you know, we, we work really, really hard. Are we work really, really hard, but it’s not without its own. You know, we’re either Maxwell either winning or learning. And so we’ve had a lot of learnings. We’ve had a lot of learnings. And I think that the coin phrase we don’t like to pay tuition twice, has come as come around several times. And so there’s there’s plenty that we still daily need to continue to sharpen this are on. You got
Charlie Malouf it. So you think that making it look easy, and well planned to something there’ll be a misperception. Okay, because we’re going fast. We’re going fast and hopefully trying not to break too much as we go. Being careful. Purpose, you mentioned purpose earlier, our organizational purpose is furnishing life’s best memories, four simple words. And they you remember when we rolled that out, speaking about memories, what have been some of your best memories here at the river?
Manny Rodriguez Not a lot of there’s a lot of them. I enjoyed rolling out our purpose having Joey Ryman having Inky Johnson, I mean, some amazing guest speakers come and just participate in that event, like what a cool event to launch our company’s purpose. But also remember, times in the car together, doing an Orange Crush tour, I’m sure your audience is going to hear more about what Orange Crush is in the future, spending a lot of time driving to each location to just just be present with our team and roll out our annual call to action and just spend time with them. And think about our gala in 2019. When we get to for 2019 and 2020. At the beginning, when we get to celebrate all of our folks in person, like another just amazing memory.
Charlie Malouf Those are some great memories, I thought you might say the time we both got in the dunk dunk tank and our kids. Doctors on campus, we had some crazy campus and had a top 10 from it. Okay, personal achievement. Since you’ve been a Memory Maker here at the river, what is something you’ve learned about yourself? Or about what you’ve been able to accomplish? That has surprised even you? I mean, did you expect to achieve this level of success rising to be the company clo?
Manny Rodriguez Did I expect I stay pretty focused on what’s the controllables. And I have the voice in my head is constantly telling me to continue moving forward. And so that comes that comes from mom and dad constantly saying that you can control this, you know what this is? This is this interaction between you and I today and just being present, being authentic, being who you are. And so I think that for me, it always comes back to this taking each day as it comes. But being really, really active in the preparation for it. So that I can be the best that that situation deserves. So whatever comes our company’s way, is that I’m constantly learning that I’m constantly looking for ways to get better. The operational side has definitely been something that I’m really excited about looking at ways for us to continue to be more efficient for us to continue to find better ways to operate. And so I think that is I think that service served as well. But it’s rooted. It’s rooted in moving forward.
Charlie Malouf I like that. So you’re not looking too far ahead. You’re taking it one day at a time. Right. And and to that end, what is the favorite Bible verse that you share with your boys at night?
Manny Rodriguez Are there several? That’s a great question. There are several. Well, I mean, Jeremiah talks about, you know, a plan for us to plan for our family, which which is, which is really important. A lot of what we talk about is just knowing that that this isn’t this isn’t this isn’t. For us. This isn’t
Charlie Malouf ours. What about the this is the day,
Manny Rodriguez it’s one of our favorite songs that we grew up singing that song. And so we’ll sing that, you know, this is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made and we will rejoice and be glad. And so we’re thankful. We’re thankful for the day thankful for the sunrising for the folks that we’re going to be the folks that we’re going to hopefully be able to impact and just being together.
Charlie Malouf Yeah. Okay, so let’s talk about legacy. Now. If you go to the end of your career, which is gonna be a long time from now, and you’re looking back and and you think about how you want to be remembered. And this is kind of a quick icebreaker question that I like to ask, what three words come to mind is the three words that you would like to have described you?
Manny Rodriguez Three words. It’s a good icebreaker, I would say, well, it’s first say authentic. I think it’s, you just gotta be genuine. I think that again comes from mom and dad, just be who you are, and just in all aspects of your life. It’s also I’d say, Persevere, persevere, perseverance is Big part of getting through getting through, and not just getting through just for the sake of getting through, like, get through and enjoy the ride as you’re going through it. So perseverance, authenticity, and then mostly, you know, also relational. Knowing that, you know, this is while we’re here, and while we’re, whether we’re at work, whether we’re, it’s, it’s, it’s about the relationship, it’s about the relationship, and are we being intentional about nurturing that relationship and investing back into it? And so those are some of the key things that I take a lot of pride in.
Charlie Malouf That’s great. That’s great. Thank you. Okay, let’s talk about one something that you’ve really taken a liking to. And one of the critical aspects that you’ve really taken over for us that a lot of people may might not realize is that you oversee all of our construction projects now. And we’ve had quite a few under your watch. In fact, they have become a competitive advantage for us since you’ve taken over from a couple of distribution centers, because we’re about to opened our third one and Spartan ridge, and we did four oaks, many, many store remodels and renovations, and several new stores, to tell us about some of these experiences, and memories that really stand out for you in the area of construction.
Manny Rodriguez Yeah, well, thank you for that. That’s kind of Yeah, construction is a new skill set. There is some history there. My My family has construction roots in our family. And so there’s, there’s a lot of things there that that I take a lot of pride in, who doesn’t love to build something, like to build something to create something to work with really remarkable partners, and create a retail experience that not only our memory makers can love and enjoy and get excited about, but that our guests will love and enjoy. So I’ve really enjoyed working on our construction projects. They’re not easy. They’re not easy, but they’re there are a lot of fun. And I would be remissed to say that it takes takes a lot of our folks, we have some amazing folks, Tim sales, Janet lamb Cuellar, Lynne Knowles that come alongside and really make these construction projects come to life.
Charlie Malouf Do you have a favorite story or memory about me, I know every construction project is different. Sometimes we have to load up in a different box that happens to be open and move it over. You got give us give us one that like really stands out like this happened.
Manny Rodriguez There’s some there’s so many there. It’s another episode. But I’ll give you one for Rolla capital Serravalle. Capital, we bottom of the ninth we have 953 footers that are pulling up ready to deliver all of our products. So our will all of our team is there, they’re ready to set up. And the fire marshal will keep his name off the off the podcast here. He he unfortunately, wasn’t to his liking, there was something with the way that the fire detectors were going off. And so he wanted to come but it was the Friday. So he wanted to come back on Monday. And and we had to pivot to pivot really, really quickly. And it just so happened. And again, this goes back to relational just so happened that the box that we were moving into, there was another vacant box next to it. And so I called our real estate contact and said, Hey, crazy idea. Do you mind if I load nine trailers of furniture into this location, this empty box for over the weekend, and then we’ll move it and clean it and move it right back into our or normal box. And so our team did that our team unloaded those nine trailers, staged it, moved it into our box once we passed, and we opened right on time. And without a flaw. I cleaned that box up and left it better than we found it. But again, it was just it’s one of many, one of many stories that we have on the construction side.
Charlie Malouf There’s like one of their stories for every every construction project is so what a lot of people don’t realize about that one year we were there because I think there’s a second store being opened at the exact same time. Right, exactly right. That’s exactly right. I think it was the mathy stores. So we don’t typically open to stores or two days apart. But that’s just happened. We had to split our teams at time. So there was a little bit hectic a little bit crazy, but we got it done. Okay. So does your love of construction work besides building things? Does that come from from your family history?
Manny Rodriguez It does. Yeah, Mom and Dad, your mom, dad grew up in Portugal. And so at an early age, my dad went to France and and really worked as an apprentice and learned and so he learned all aspects of creating and building and so he had to kind of walk through it and I love that. I mentioned that towards some of our folks that’s you sometimes you have to go through it and know it and feel it touch it to be able to then kind of speak to it and so he Bama data from large families. My mom is one of 10 My dad’s one of seven. And so my dad was able to bring his brothers and sisters up to France and slowly but surely one day at a time. They created something pretty special and and so We’re really thankful for that. And now, you know, the crazy part about the whole construction piece. My wife will listen to this and she I think she’ll get a chuckle here. I hope I’m not very handy. I’m like the least hand, she she’ll she probably have four or five stories for you on when I tried to change out the the locks in our. And in that night, we had to, like, prop it closed because I couldn’t turn it. I couldn’t put it back. I couldn’t install it again. So I’m not the most handy when it comes to fixing things. But thankfully, we have really amazing folks that come alongside and get everything done.
Charlie Malouf You know, a guy. Well, yeah, a couple things about both of our wives. Oh, joy that because my wife was a lot more handy than i in terms of construction projects she’s always getting. Yeah, I’m about as handy as you are maybe a lot less. And then love it. The the history from from from your dad and your family history has now paid dividends for us here abroad. Never. We were grateful for that. Okay, what can but but, you know, inflation, we hear about inflation and the cost of construction, what concerns you the most about construction projects moving forward?
Manny Rodriguez I think you hit on it, Charlie, that that’s those are the headwinds for us right now. It’s, it’s the the backlog on just, we’re waiting on fire panels for Spartan ridge. And so the backlog on waiting on parts and pieces lifts for some of these warehouses. They’re out for 12 months. And so the supply chain shortages concern me, of course, that more GCS finding labor are subcontractors and contractors. And so and then the cost inflation, the costs have gone up. And so we’ve been very fortunate. We’ve been fortunate to have had as many projects as we’ve had over the past two years, and to really execute our plan. But I think today in today’s environment, we can still stay pretty ambitious, but but grounded in the fact that there’s some headwinds that we’re facing,
Charlie Malouf no doubt, no doubt. So you mentioned the past couple of years, and we’ve been quite busy with construction projects. During the pandemic. You’ve been instrumental, even from the onset of the pandemic. And we each had kind of different tasks that our leadership team had to take on. And one of yours was to keep our stores open, safely open, would you tell us about your April 2020, or March 2020. And, and what it was like to try to keep our stores open and some of those memories and stories,
Manny Rodriguez some long days, or some long days, there was a lot of dividing and conquering. There was a lot of kind of ships passing in the night. But But ultimately, what I was tasked with was keeping was, first of all, keeping our people safe. So it wasn’t being reckless around. Stay open at all costs. Now it was let’s let’s first go and run it through our people filter. So let’s see, do our folks. They want to continue to be in our store? Is there still a need? Well, yes, we have folks coming in because they’re buying desks. I mean, their home environment is completely changed. And so they need products. Okay, so there is a need in our folks still want to be in the store? Yes. And can we equip them and be safe and with all the PPE gear that we had to outfit them with, of course, and make sure that we had partners that would go in and clean for us make sure we were really disciplined around that. And once we once we could get through those barriers, and we said, well, then we should stay open. Our folks, our people, memory makers want it, our guests are coming in, and we can get the supplies to keep everyone safe. And so at that point, it really just became a daily hourly conversation with with our landlords with the governments in which we operated in. And some got some, some are easier than others. But at the end of the day, I think I think was a really monumental task for our team to kind of come together and say, like, we’re ready for like we are here were united. That was a great rallying cry for us and 2020 was to us to be united. And I think we emerge through that united. Yeah, those
Charlie Malouf were some interesting times in terms of not every store stayed open. And we had you know, fortunately our states were allowed us to stay open for the most part, but sometimes staffing people have to shift stores. Some people have to move go to other states and some stores were open by appointment only. There was adaptable, flexible that you were instrumental in helping us keep the engine moving forward, as you say. Okay, pivoting once again, unsung heroes. I know that it always takes a village to achieve phenomenal success. Who would you say are some of the unsung heroes or colleagues, colleagues of your world and tell us what they do to help you?
Manny Rodriguez There’s a lot of them. It does take a village and we have we have great leaders. We have great leaders that look after our people really, really well. And start with Tracy downs or VP Human Capital, looking after our people, it starts with Tim sales, looking after some of our construction projects and being relentlessly focused on that, we just again, will Luke retail operations constantly trying to get better, and how we show up every day. So the folks, the folks that really come in and help shepherd our folks, but do it in such a such a gracious way that it’s, it’s not about them. It’s not about us, right? That’s the last thing it’s about. It’s about, it’s about our people.
Charlie Malouf Yeah, those are great. Man, what do you what do you think of our or have been one of the secrets to your success,
Manny Rodriguez being comfortable, and probably my skin, and I think that that wasn’t always easy. But it’s come over time. And spending time and with some really amazing companies, who took the time to kind of invest in May, and took the time to teach me things that I hadn’t had no idea of taking the time to travel to look, meet some amazing folks in different parts of the country, different cultures, it really just narrowed my focus in narrowed my focus into say that, again, you control what you can control. And what we can control is how we show up every day, how we show up every day, and the disposition in how we show up. And so for me, it’s I mean, that started very young, I started very young, with knowing that there’s no free lunches, my dad would always say, there’s no, you got to go earn it, and there’s a lot of earning it. And so I think at this point, like, I’m just really comfortable with with with that, and, and I think I can be of assistance and help to folks by having that comfort.
Charlie Malouf Yeah, I love what you said there about you, you’ve made some good choices on the companies that you’ve worked for. I mean, maybe you’ve had good fortune that they actively invested in you, and you get to see so much of the world. But you made an intentional choice of I’m going to go to this company, because they’re going to invest in me and and that’s really served you well. And you’re when you’re choosing a company to work for you, are they going to invest in your future and your that’s, that’s really, really important?
Manny Rodriguez Well, Charlie, and I will tell you, we used to think that training was like I used to have, like, on the perks, right, like you get paid training. And I’ll tell you, like, that’s not a perk anymore. That’s a requirement like training, onboarding, and development. That’s, that’s just part of a company’s DNA. I know it’s part of ours. And so that’s not something that hey, it’s a it’s an added benefit. Like no, like, we’re gonna work together to sharpen each other’s like iron sharpens iron and, and part of it is all these great new hires that have started. I actually just had a retail one on one class this morning. And I’m reading the bios of folks that are choosing to come to broad river. I mean, it’s unbelievable. I mean, they will make us better they will make me better post
Charlie Malouf what is a retail one on one class, I’ve spoken to some of these retail one on one classes, I get to do it. Every every session, we have just like you do you know, we have what is a retail one on one class on retail
Manny Rodriguez one on one class, these are our new hires our new HFA, our new home furnishing associates that have joined us from all all parts of the country. We had folks in class today that moved here, from the Carolinas, different parts of the Carolinas, Virginia, Mississippi, we had someone from Arizona, we had someone from Tennessee. And they it’s it’s their first 101 days in retail. And so it’s a very thoughtful, intentional program that walks them through our systems of who we are our culture, our purpose. So they get 101 days of kind of just walking that journey with us.
Charlie Malouf I love that retail one on one is is the intentional mapping on Wednesdays. Okay, advice, shifting gears, What’s the best advice you’ve received? I’d say,
Manny Rodriguez be careful of the stories you tell yourself. Be careful, the mind is a very powerful, very powerful tool and instrument. And so it’s that story that we choose to focus on. And it can weather the days turned, didn’t turn out the way you’d like it to. Well, the one thing you control, you control that mindset. And so knowing that, hey, that tomorrow is gonna be another day and and what we can control, like I said earlier, is what’s in front of us. And so not allowing that story in our head to really take us off off the course off the track.
Charlie Malouf That’s a great one. So you just spoke to retail one on one. And those are our new hires. The What advice would you give a Memory Maker who’s starting today?
Manny Rodriguez One day at a time, take it one day at a time and be an active participant. Come and engage.
Charlie Malouf That’s great. All right, Manny, you’re going with this seven going on eight years, several years now. If you could go back to your first day. What would you tell your younger man, your younger self about what life is going to be like working with So Charlie and Jonathan and everyone at Broad River retail, what what advice would you give your younger self host,
Manny Rodriguez I would have said you need to get into shit you need to get in shape. Because it’s going to be it’s going to be a journey, it’s going to be a full, it’s gonna be like a triathlon, you have to be mentally strong, you’ve got to be physically ready to go and take on these long weekends or days. Cuz that’s what the business requires. And so I would say, get ready to sprint man, get ready to sprint or
Charlie Malouf marathon. Marathon sometimes. Other interchanges. Okay. What is something about you that would surprise your fellow memory makers?
Manny Rodriguez Oh, it surprise folks. Well, I’m an avid walker. When the COVID hit in March 2020, my wife and I, we started walking every day, for miles every day. And it was it was really therapeutic. Because we’ve, as you we talked about earlier, being on the calls, being on calls with governments and trying to keep our stores open. Just keeping our of course keeping our people safe. That walk really just allowed for some decompression, and also allowed for us to just spend some time together. Hey, how was your day? And so now I’m going to walk out a pretty feverishly face. What is that per mile walk? I think I think we’re like at a 12 I think it’s 12 minutes a mile.
Charlie Malouf It’s pretty clear this running for some people.
Manny Rodriguez It’s a it’s, it might look a little awkward sometimes. But uh, but you gotta get a little sweat into.
Charlie Malouf All right, I love it. Love it. My walking pace is 20 minutes. If I’m running, I’m running your thumb walking home walking is something in between. I love that. Okay, so if you go walking with me, be prepared to maybe run. If you could change something. If you could change one thing about the company today with a wave of magic wand, what would it be?
Manny Rodriguez You know, one of the things that I really do appreciate about how we tackle opportunities, we have plenty of them is we make our best decisions when we make them together. And so we have amazing, an amazing leadership team. And so I love our approach on how we make these decisions. These these decisions aren’t made in a vacuum or in in one silo. And so, but if I had to change anything I think we get I think I’d probably look at our how we have our PTO setup, I’d probably move that PTO back to a to an annual and at least I know I’d have an advocate there and honor it CIDA our shout out to our Harold Hampton or I TVP and get it back to an annual PTO allotment.
Charlie Malouf That’s the one change got it. Okay, we’re going there. Alright, so let’s say Okay, here we go. I’m gonna give you a chance. Now. Let’s say I decided to retire, I’m hanging it up, and I’m giving you the keys to the company. You’re the new president and CEO of broader retail. Today’s your first day in this new role? What would be your first order of business?
Manny Rodriguez Well, first first arguments would be first, you know, we love to recognition is really important. And so the first thing I would do is I’d recognize our strongest CEO and president that we’ve had that’s really kind of moved our company, to where it’s at today. And so we pause and we’d celebrate that that moment, we’d celebrate that moment, and then we’d we’d pick up a shovel and get back to work and we’d and we’d go tackle the day’s business, we’d go tackle today’s business, and we’d go talk to some amazing recruits, we’d go deliver really excellent product and guest experiences to all of our folks. So we’d get back to the day’s work.
Charlie Malouf Your professional question answer, you’re not letting me stump you here. That’s okay. I’m gonna keep trying keep trying. I’m gonna keep trying to thrive. Our companies, word of the end 2022 Is thrive. What does Thrive mean for you? And why do you believe that it is the right word of the year for us this year.
Manny Rodriguez I love thrive. That was a it was a it was a this was an easy choice for this year, coming out of forward together, which was really important that we had to move forward. But we could only move forward, two hands locked together, thrive. For me, it’s a mindset. It’s a mindset. It’s how we choose to show up and what we choose to focus on. And so thriving is really its individual. We talked about it this morning on retail one on one, what does Thrive mean to you? And there were 32 different answers. And that’s beautiful. Because that’s that’s what Thrive means to each individual person. And so, for me, it’s a mindset, it’s how we it’s how we wake up in the morning, like wake up in the morning to smile at ready to tackle the day ready to tackle the day. And so thriving is really important. We just got done with a season where it’s in some cases, it’s been pretty, pretty lonely. And so I think that thriving together is really important.
Charlie Malouf Love that. And sometimes I think it’s helpful to use an across to help us So if you had your t h r i v e, for those of you watching on YouTube, you can see me doing the across here with the letters vertical. So what would be your across stick for the word thrive? Give me the T,
Manny Rodriguez I say the T. I don’t usually like just have one. So I’ll give you just a couple will transform, like, you know, take this opportunity to transform how you do things. Just start with today, do something in what you want to. It might seem like a big monumental task. Just do it for a day. Do it do it just for one day. So like transform, like tenacity. Like just, you know, the way we approach different aspects. I’m reminded of my son’s basketball game this weekend. I kept on telling him like, yeah, you’ve got to wanted more, you’ve got to want it more and, and you’re like, am I sinking in? Like, is he getting this? And then I see him on the basketball. And again, mind you, this is a under eight, church league basketball. So I think you have tenacity being tenacious,
Charlie Malouf transformed tenaciously.
Manny Rodriguez It was the age ah, humility, and say humility,
Charlie Malouf okay, or resilient.
Manny Rodriguez I would be intentional V. Key would be victory, being victorious. He, and then he would be empathy.
Charlie Malouf Love it. So what advice would you offer up to a fellow Memory Maker to help him or her Thrive this year? I’d say,
Manny Rodriguez take your time. If you can’t come to the answer today, that’s okay. Take your time. Take your time and take some time and just map it out, map it out. put a plan together. And if you can’t, if you need help, great, reach out to folks that can help you get there that might want to go take that walk with you might want to take a bike ride or hey, this is something that I want to get into when you join me. So I think part of it is just taking your time not not putting any undue pressure stress on it. Just let it come. Yeah, I
Charlie Malouf think it’s important to take some reflection and understand what what drive does mean for you like you got 32 different answers today in retail one on one. Okay? mentorship, motivation and inspiration. Mentorship is so important. Where from whom do you get your mentorship?
Manny Rodriguez A lot of amazing people are amazing men, women. Siblings, I have two amazing older sisters.
Charlie Malouf Shout out to the sister,
Manny Rodriguez Rosa and Pa Dodd that definitely just know how to invest and just kind of keep you grounded, which is which is which is great. But as I mentioned earlier, I mean, there’s been some amazing folks at former companies who who still will reach out on a LinkedIn post or call me or text me just to check in. And we’re all so busy. And there’s so many excuses on just to take that 30 seconds a minute to formulate that text or reach out and leave your voicemail. And so I’m really, really just love it. I love it. And and now having like having a business partner or business partner, who is is a mentor to me who not only just do we have a business relationship, but we also want to see each other do well. I personally like that. So it’s not just professional like we’re, we’re we’re we’re brothers that are you know, just taking it one day at a time trying to figure this thing out trying to get better.
Charlie Malouf Absolutely. So what Where does your inspiration and motivation come from? Where do you get we’re where do you find inspiration and motivation?
Manny Rodriguez Well, through stories through a lot of amazing stories, a lot of gritty stories of folks and people who’ve charted an amazing path and and so my family gives me a lot of inspiration. My call it might no other Memory Maker seeing, seeing them do some pretty amazing things give me a lot of inspiration. My boys and my boys give me a lot of inspiration. Just seeing how their minds work and the questions they ask. And then seeing like my oldest James or at church yesterday and he’s he’s like reconfiguring Ashley’s logo like he he’s taking notes on like, hey, you need to listen to this message. But he’s taking he’s scribbling some he likes to journal and so I get a lot of inspiration from from just the curiosity of people around me
Charlie Malouf in partnership, you’re there like marriages Why do you think our partnership has worked and what what what about our partnership has made us a successful team?
Manny Rodriguez I think Jonathan once told me that he said exactly what he just said he said you know, partnership is like a marriage except you might not think that other person’s that attractive. Well, we’ve come a long way. Your your aging come a long way over these past But I’d say first, it has to start with trust. Foundations rooted in trust. But it’s also rooted in a mutual respect. Mutual respect, knowing that you bring a really key set of skills to the table. And and I think we both do and so I think knowing that about each other and asking each other to lean in, because of our backgrounds and experiences, it’s, it’s, that’s what makes it tick.
Charlie Malouf Any partnership or, or even relationship or marriage, you have to have trust, yes, no doubt about it. Goal setting, we’re big fans of Jim Collins and the B hags. What’s a b tag this year for
Manny Rodriguez b tag. So again, we like to kind of change it up here at Broad River every once in a while. And, and so a b tag is is our big, thriving, audacious goal. So so just takes a little bit of a different twist. So the be hag would have been your, your big, hairy, audacious goal. And so we like to include our Word of the Year thrive. And this year’s the tag
Charlie Malouf the mad respect to Jim Collins, we love Jim Collins, we love the hack. So so how important is goal setting? In your opinion,
Manny Rodriguez that’s critical. You’ve got to, you got to start with the end in mind, no doubt, you got to start with the end in mind. And so in order to chart that path, you got to know where you’re going.
Charlie Malouf So along those lines, what are your goals for 2022?
Manny Rodriguez That’s a lot of goals. There’s a lot, we have a lot of goals, I’ll share a couple with you. Number one, we want to make sure that we take the goodness of this million dollar writer program, million dollar Memory Maker program, and really expand it into other parts of our company into customer experience into operations. We need to continue to stay focus on our returns stay focused on how we operate, we want to operate with excellence. And so there’s plenty of opportunity there for us to continue to get better. We got to continue to work on our supply chain. And so we’ve got we’ve got four key initiatives. And so project ship, our supply chain is one of them, along with three others, you know, our our delivery experience, our cancellations, how we operate on that retail operations side of the business, and then project Thrive all about our people and making sure that we continue to invest in our people
Charlie Malouf love that. So the goals are centered around the top four company initiatives, right? Plus, plus, taking the Excellence in one department member in cascading that to other departments. That’s gonna be great. Okay, morning routine and daily habits. Do you have a morning routine?
Manny Rodriguez I do have a morning routine, it changes it depends on weekends, I’ll take some liberties on the weekends. But I do love to start my morning. first cup of coffee is always really important for me, and, and to really just be intentional with what I’m reading intentional with what I’m reading that morning. Love to have that time with my boys, my wife as we get ready for our day. And they there’s a lot of different morning personalities in my home. And so I’m the I’m the personality. And maybe it’s because as a kid, I had an alarm clock. It was a Winnie the Pooh alarm clock and it it sang to me in the morning. It would sing you know, in his songs Tom to get up, it’s time to get going. It’s time to see a friend of mine. And so I just get up singing every day. It’s a it’s like a my wife. She’s like, doing stuff. And so I’m really it’s how I wake up and so my youngest, he’s singing too, he sings at night before he goes to bed. And so we have some different personalities in the house and but our morning routine is a pretty Saturday morning for example. We like to get doughnuts and read the newspaper. It’s something I should use my dad all the time and so I do that with my boys will get donuts and you know, read the paper or watch it watch a watch up program
Charlie Malouf the Winnie the Pooh alarm clock. That was an answer to what someone doesn’t know about the Winnie the Pooh singing to the Winnie the Pooh alarm clock. That’s that’s that’s great. And what isn’t this warm water with lemon drink that you do now that’s
Manny Rodriguez recent. That’s recent. So you’re listening. That’s good. So we like to go through some kicks. And so a recent one was Hey, before you even have that cup of coffee, let’s have that warm water with lemon. Okay, so So we’re on week three of that. It’s a little on the tart side, but I know that we’ve we’re gonna stick it out for another couple of weeks and see how it goes.
Charlie Malouf Well, thank you for acknowledging my listening during the season. I’ve got to like really work on that skill set. So other than walking, what are some of your daily habits.
Manny Rodriguez There’s lot daily habits. I like to get out and workout and so sometimes just walking sometimes it’s playing pickleball tennis. Sometimes it’s throwing the football around with the kids in the neighborhood. And I still love playing soccer so there’s there’s there’s a lot but a lot of it is just kind of getting out and enjoying the day with with family and friends.
Charlie Malouf Well, I’ve heard about His home gym coming soon. I want to know more about that. Okay, we’re coming down the final stretch right here. And thank you so much for this has been great pleasure to learning what book are you currently reading or books?
Manny Rodriguez So I map out throughout q1 books that and most of these books have been books that have been recommended. And so I’m just kind of working my way through them, but I’m just finishing impact players right now. And so, get another chapter left to read that.
Charlie Malouf Okay, what are your favorite podcasts? I
Manny Rodriguez love podcasts. So, John Maxwell, I love reading. I love listening to some and I listened to a lot during my walks. And so John Maxwell’s a favorite, Patrick Lencioni is a favorite. I’ll select men and blazers, so So my soccer passion, I get to kind of hear their take on on soccer. So there’s everything from snacks daily, I get my snacks daily. So he kind of saw a little bit of a wide spectrum
Charlie Malouf there. Have you had your snap data? Yes. Ah, right. Yes, right. Yeah. Are you a 1x 1.25x? Or 1.5x? Listener
Manny Rodriguez hands? I’m a 1x. listener.
Charlie Malouf And so how do you sharpen your saw?
Manny Rodriguez Really, it’s with what I have my plan. And what I’m buying into. There’s so many there’s so much great content out there, uh, webinars, of course reading. But really, it’s just thinking through thinking through, what am I looking to work on, and then putting a plan around it to say, Okay, well, let’s go let’s go look and see. Let’s go look and see and talk to folks that are really doing some cool, interesting and unique things in that industry or in that skill set. And so I just tried to go look and go learn
Charlie Malouf a lot the intentionality around that I know you love a good Netflix show or, or a good television show to dig into What show are you currently binge watching?
Manny Rodriguez Ozark I just finished Ozark. That’s a good show. That was crazy. 1883 was really, really good. And so Yellowstone, my wife and I really enjoyed Yellowstone. Okay.
Charlie Malouf So when you stop working for the day, or you have some time for yourself or your family, what do you like to do for fun or just to relax?
Manny Rodriguez I like to get out, like to get out and enjoy. Whether it’s playing some tennis, some soccer or catching a concert, go into a concert. And so that’s, that’s always pretty enjoyable for me.
Charlie Malouf Nice. To someone who is not a Memory Maker, and is thinking of coming to the river. What advice would you offer to that person? I would tell them
Manny Rodriguez in a week I get this question. Sometimes that comes across well, hey, seems like you guys have done so much. You’ve done so much. You’ve opened the stores, like I think I’m joining too late. And what I would tell them is you’re joining at the perfect time, the perfect time, like we are still at the base of this mountain, we have so much so much to still work on and continue to get better and to strive for. And so I would tell them, if you decide to come, come with, come with come with an open mind come with an open mind and come with an open openness to get better.
Charlie Malouf So season one was Season One of the podcast, what stories are you most looking forward to during this first season of stories from the river?
Manny Rodriguez Well, I know you’ve been super intentional about the guests that you’ve invited. And so I’m really excited to hear from our folks that have been with us for some strong 10 year are some of our newer memory makers, and just hear about their experiences here and hear about how it’s impacted their lives and what they’ve been able to do with furnishing life’s best memories. That’s going to be an exciting season.
Charlie Malouf I am too i As you know, this is a passion project. So I’m pretty fired up about it. And you’ve done a great job. Okay, let me give you your last question here. Who is someone that you think we need to have on Season One,
Manny Rodriguez you know, thinking about furnishing life’s best memories, as you know, it’s not just it’s not just internal facing, it’s also external facing. And so I would tell you to reach out to beds for kids reach out to the green chair project to St. Jude to a lot of great community partners that we do business with that are serving the communities in which we do business in really, really well and thoughtfully and invite them on to tell you about their their relationships with broad river.
Charlie Malouf That’s a great idea. You know, it’s um, we’ll see if they’ll come on in some of our nonprofit partners or vendors and things of that nature that we partner with. Manny, you’ve been a great guest. It’s been awesome having you on for thanks for taking the time for stories from the river. You can check out our website stories from the river.com you can subscribe on your favorite podcast player or Apple or or Spotify, Google etc. Your wherever you get your podcasts. And we are excited to bring you fresh new content. Every week have a story with a Memory Maker from stories from the river produced here by broad river retail. Thank you so much, Manny. Thank you guys. Thank you, Charlie.
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