Leisa: Hello. This is the Businessmakers Show, heard on the radio, and seen online at thebusinessmakers.com. I am Leisa Holland-Nelson, and once again, the business makers are at another one of PKF Texas cool events, Doing Business Over Coffee. Today's networking session is focused on extraordinary women. My guest is Bethany Haley, the president of Savage Brands, one of Houston's leading brand management companies. Welcome Bethany.
Bethany: Thank you.
Leisa: Tell us about Savage Brands.
Bethany: Sure. Well, Savage is a strategy and brand experience firm, and we're basically provided into three sections. There is the strategy and business consulting, there is creative services, and then we had digital marketing. Our purpose is to make sure that brand is an integral part of business strategy and transforming businesses and seeing them grow.
Leisa: What's a typical customer for you?
Bethany: We mainly work with large public companies. Obviously, we're based in Houston, so a lot of oil and gas, chemical, heavy industrial, the really sexy, you know, industries. [Laughter].
Leisa: Exciting stuff that you get to dress up everyday for.
Bethany: Well, we love it. We love it, and there's a lot of opportunity there, and those industries are just so highly technical and innovative, that it's a very exciting time, especially now with the importance of retention and recruiting, you know, image has become just a huge part of that.
Leisa: Yeah, absolutely. That's true. Bethany, I know a secret about you, so we're gonna share it with our audience.
Bethany: [Laughter]. I knew it was coming.
Leisa: Yes, without a doubt. You are a second-generation president of Savage Brands. It was founded by your mother, and really for years, it's been a leading branding company in Houston. What's it like to take on that mantle; tell us like some of the things you're facing, and also some of your secrets for handling them.
Bethany: Sure. Well, you know, first of all, it is a little bit overwhelming and intimidating because she is so successful, and has been - you know, the company, she founded about 38 years ago. And so I came right into that. One of your question originally was gonna be about, you know, what's made me successful, and I'm lucky because I came into a successful company and didn't have to go through the trials and tribulations of creating a business. With that being said, I'm also lucky because she's a great mentor and she's allowed me to really take the reigns of the company and grow it in a direction that I thought it needed to go in. and so that's been the incorporation of additional capability, and we were kind of born in that graphic design world, and we've really become more strategic. She's always been an innovator in our space, and so this addition of digital marketing and a lot of growth in that area. She's let me kind of carve that path for us, and she's been very, very supportive of that.
Leisa: Tell me about your team, as a business founded by a woman 38 years ago, taking over by a woman, I'm not really sure when, but I'm curious what's the makeup of your team, men and women, what kind of education do you need to be part of Savage Brands...
Bethany: Sure. What's interesting is because Paula was an entrepreneur, she was a designer, and this business spun out of her doing freelance design. And when she and I talked about me joining the firm, one of the most critical components of that was - referred her, was me getting my business education because she had just done this by trial and error. And so I ended up getting my MBA at Rice, and that's how I integrated myself into the firm, so really understanding the business side. That's been most helpful, honestly, in my relationships with my clients. So as I talked about being integrated into their business strategy and really understanding what that is. My partners, I have to other women partners, and then I have two male partners. So we have a big partnership group. Kathy mentioned collaboration and consensus and buy-in, and that's actually how we work as well. We work as a team, and we have that fight group, [laughter], to figure out what we're really passionate about.
Leisa: How many employees are there?
Bethany: We have 28 employees, and as I've motioned, it's dividing into three groups of capability.
Leisa: I know your company is diversified, are you part of the real estate holdings and all the other things that you guys are looking at, and if so, what do you see for the future between Savage Brands and the diversified holdings?
Bethany: Well, those diversified aren't actually owned by Savage, that is another family business, that is my husband, my brother and my stepfather. [Laughter].
Leisa: Oh wow. This is wonderful.
Bethany: We have all of our eggs in a family basket, so it's a nice place to be.
Leisa: Well, I like that. That it's still possible in 2012 that family businesses are thriving at the level that yours is thriving. I mean you truly entrepreneurs in the purest sense of the word. .
Bethany: You know, an important part of that is my mother is obviously a mentor of mine, but also seeking outside counsel that has nothing to do with the family. And just making sure that my advisor network are looking out for me and helping me grown in that business and help me take it to where it needs to go.
Leisa: Well, I have one good last question. Because my normal last question is what would you tell the next generation. You are the next generation. So I'm curious -
Bethany: I am - but not that young though.
Leisa: Yeah, you are. I want to ask you how you handle being the next generation and the balance that your generation appears to want compared to us who started maybe 20 years before you, and really may have had it all, but we had it all at different times. So balancing wasn't - we thought we could balance, but, obviously, we didn't really balance that well because our children are dying for this balance, whatever that means. So tell me about it.
Bethany: It takes a village, I will tell you. [Laughter]. I'm fortunate enough to have a family here that helps me along with that. But, you know, honestly, it's a struggle trying to get it all done and be very effective in both phases of my life - from a career perspective and being a mother and wife and good friend to people. I will say that I think that's going to be an ongoing challenge for women, I don't think that there is a magic pill for how we figure that out. But, luckily, culturally, it's becoming more acceptable for women to pursue these careers and have very tough careers, and rely on other people to help them manage and negotiate the households. Men, also, are accepting and assuming more responsibility at home, I believe, and that's just a huge, huge change.
Leisa: Thank you.
Bethany: Thank you.
Leisa: And that wraps up my discussion with Bethany Haley, the president of Savage Brands. This is The BusinessMakers Show, heard on the radio and seen online at The BusinessMakers dot-com. I'm Leisa Holland-Nelson, author and host of Women Mean Business on the BusinessMakers Show and president and chief marketing officer of ContentActive, Houston's leading Web and mobile technology provider.