(Editor’s note: The Colorado Springs Business Journal honors the city’s fastest-growing companies each year with a celebration in September. The eight companies who won will be featured in a series of articles that discuss their business models, their success stories and their challenges.)
Tumbleweed Tiny Homes got started in 1999 with its first tiny RV — well before the tiny home trend started to gain ground in the United States.
Tumbleweeds aren’t made just for staying in one place, however — these tiny homes are on the move. Human Resource Manager Justin Hall talks about the ever-larger tiny industry, how he keeps the “Tribe” engaged, and how the company meets the challenges of a new industry.
Describe your business.
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company is the nation’s leading tiny house RV manufacturer. With operations that focus on showing everyone how to “Dream Big, Go Tiny!” we provide education, resources and products for all things tiny. We’ve been in operation since 1999, with a stronger focus, in the past four years, on direct-to-consumer manufacturing.
What are the secrets to your success?
Our secret is that we don’t have any. We prefer transparent operations, both internally and externally. We want our Tribe members (also known as employees), customers and business partners to have complete access to us. Whether it’s information, questions or education, we want to work together to create solutions and scenarios where everyone feels comfortable and successful.
What are some of the challenges you face?
Our challenges are two-fold. We are the only manufacturer in what we do. While there are plenty of other tiny house companies available, none of them are certified manufacturers, and few others are licensed dealers. We are pioneering many facets of the tiny house movement, so it comes with its challenges of finding solutions that work in a new industry. Because of our successful approach, it has also created extreme growth. In the past five years, we’ve doubled our revenue and staff size every year. From three employees in a garage to 90 in a full-service factory, we continue to exceed our goals and grow as a tribe.
How do you keep employees engaged and enthusiastic?
We put a strong focus on our culture and Tribe mentality. Our Tribe is important to everything we do. Working in a collaborative effort from design to production to customer service, we want our Tribe to be empowered and a core part of the process. We are all growing and figuring our business out — together. It doesn’t hurt that we have a cool product, are impacting customers in amazing ways, and enjoy some barbecue and beer from time to time.
Do you have advice for other business owners?
Make sure your team is just that, a team. When our Tribe gathers together, there is a sense of family, and partnership that is more than a time clock. A high level of trust and respect for each person’s contribution is prevalent. This goes the same for our external partners. They don’t have to be on your payroll to be a huge part of why you succeed. We are fortunate to have partners in Justin Burns, Central Banc Corp (Jill Webb), Paul Hurcomb, Hannah Parsons and a host of others that support and promote our business.
As you grow, how do you work to accept new challenges?
As an industry that still has so much to learn, absorb and create, risk-averse is something that will never go away. That’s the exciting part of being pioneers. That being said, our team has a wide variety of experience and backgrounds that allows us to take calculated risks. Our CEO, Steve Weissmann, says it best: “We are presented with thousands of opportunities constantly. If we focus on the top five right now, we can ensure success. Once those are done, move on to what’s next.”
What do you think of Colorado Springs?
We love doing business in Colorado Springs. There is a sense of familiarity and willingness, from the community at large, to champion success. The amount of partners, contacts and relationships that have been built through working together, we’ve seen a huge advantage and has helped us in our growth. As the city continues to evolve and expand on its identity and presence, we are thankful for being a part of that and looking forward to continued growth and supporting the surrounding community.