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Interview with Rob Gasberro

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  • TRANSCRIPT: ROB GASBERRO Interviewee: RG ROB GASBERRO Interviewer: NS Nathaniel Smith (- -- Jnterview Date: October 26, 2018 . !_ i · · Locatio.n: Franklin, NC Length: 52:38 START OF INTERVIEW Rob Gasberro: I'm on camera too? Nathaniel Smith: No. Although that would be awesome if you were on camera. RG: No. I don't want to be on camera. NS: Ah no. It's not--, it's not that kind of day. But what is your name? RG: Rob Gasberro. NS: And are you aware that you are being recorded and that this recording will be stored in and made available by the archives of the Mountain Heritage Center and Hunter Library at Western Carolina University? RG: I am. NS: Alrighty then. So, where were you born? RG: I was born in Miami, Florida. 1976. NS: And then when did you move up here? RG: I moved to Franklin, Nmih Carolina, in September of2008. NS: So, do you have a family? RG: l do. Do you want details? Rob Gasberro NS: If you want--, if you want to say the details. RG: I come from a--, I come from a [pause]--. I was raised by my mom and step-dad.l have a half-brother that I grew up with, and now I'm cunently married and have three kids: six, five, and three. NS: Six, five, and three. Awesome. RG: Boy, boy, girl. NS: Growing up fast? RG: CorTect. NS: So, what are some early childhood memories that you have? Maybe something that you may tell stories of to your friends, your children? RG: I--, I grew up in a [pause]--. My--, my childhood was heavily dominated by my mom's side of the family. I come from a big Italian--, big Italian family. And my biggest memories growing up were family. Like, tons and tons of get togethers, cookouts, playing with my cousins. Spent a lot of time at the beach as a kid [pause]--. Running around and Jived in a huge neighborhood. I think my fifteen closest friends lived within earshot of my house. I would go out and play, and I was--. My mom or dad would come out on the front porch and scream, "Robbie, dinner's ready!" And I can hear from two blocks away, and I was like, "Gatta go. Gatta--. Dinner's coming." Classic riding bikes, playing whifrle ball, and just playing outside as a kid. Family and beach. That was my life. NS: Nice. Being a-c, being a boy in Florida. RG: Being a boy in Florida. NS: So, when--, when did you actually get your first job? Or, did--. Like, what was your first job? 2 Rob Gasbeno 3 RG: My first job actually was [pause]--. I think I'm past the statute oflimitations. My ilrst job--. I think I was--, I was like thirteen years old. One sport that I became passionate about as a child was competitive cycling. And I worked in a bike shop for cash. And I got anything--. Probably--. I remember getting paid four dollars an hour. Helped to change tubes on flat tires. And working in a bike shop, I'd work to help pay for bike stuff. But that was my first job. And then I didn't work--, I didn't work a lot through high school. I played sports, and I didn't have my first job in high school until I was a senior. [pause] And there was bagging groceries. And worked--. Had one brief fast food job, and then--. And then all through college I worked for Sam's Club. It was--. Yeah. So, my--, my career--. My--, my work history is [pause]--. It's funny looking--, looking back. It's incredibly relevant to where I am right now. But until this happened, I looked at every job I had as, "Why am I doing this? Why I am doing that 7 Why am I doing this?" It didn't--, it didn't seem to have much purpose. And now I look back and go [pause]--. I'm a--, I'm a--, I'm a guy who believes in purpose. Things happen for a reason. You probably know that about me. Yeah. How much more you want? I'mjust oversharing. NS: Yeah. I mean, that is perfect. So, you said--. Like, looking back in hindsight, it was relevant to what you're doing now--. RG: Yeah with no question. Yeah. So--, yeah. I think my--, my career path as a whole--. l look at as a kind ol~-. I don't know. Do you remember Karate Kid? Mr. Miyagi teaching Daniel to paint the fence and wax the car and sand the floor. And he's like, "You're just making me work. You're not--. There's nothing good coming of this. You'rejust using me!" And--. Everything that I tried to do was like, "I want to get in. I want this to be intentional. I want--, I want to get something out of this." And I left every job that I ever had thinking, "Well that was a waste. That was a waste. That was a waste." And now here l am. llook at where I am and go, Rob Gasberro 4 "Wow. Ifl hadn't done that. If! hadn't waxed the car or painted the fence or sanded the floor for those three or four years, I probably wouldn't be armed with this patiicular skill set that is absolutely critical for where I am right now. NS: So, going into that, what arc you doing right now? Like, where do you work? RG: So, I am co-owner oi:-, predominately Outdoor 76, but we have a couple other small businesses. But--, yeah. Co-owner of a small outdoor store based in western North Carolina. We have a location in Clayton, Georgia, and Cherokee, North Carolina, as well. [pause] NS: And so--. [pause] Did you--. Like, when did you first--, first think about getting into that line of work, as far as owning a business? RG: Never. Never. If you had told me in [pause]--. If you had told me ten years ago that I would be an entrepreneur, I'd have said, "You're crazy." I didn't think I had an entrepreneurial bone in my body. In fact, ten years ago, I was the most--, the most secure and satis!ied with my career path. I was--. My--. The career that I would--, that I would say--. If God--. I think of this more than I probably should, but if--, if things just hit the fan, and I had to go back to work in--, in the workforce--. Civil Structural Engineering was my--, was my last field, working with the company designing and building bridges. My--. The story leading up to that is incredibly long and complicated, but that's what I--, that's what I did. And I was well-established in that industry. There's a small--, small as in niche, component of Civil Structural, and I was just completely content doing what I was doing. I thought I'd retire doing that. And then the economy hit the fan in 2009--, really is when things got really bad. And in 20 I 0 is when they got to the point that we just had to make the change. NS: Gotcha. And so, from what I've heard. Like, when the economy hit the fan in 2009 and all that sort of stuff:-. Is that when you kind of turned your attention to possibly--? Rob Gasberro RG: So, my specific story--. And this is something that I can't--, I can't--, l can't pat myself on the back at all for. I mean, this is just--. This is--. Again, going back to a providential--, or whatever. But in ZOOS, I was recruited by another engineering firm to move to Franklin, Notih Carolina. The relevant back story to that is that--. Born--. Being born and raised in Florida, I had always-as happy as l was as a kid and as much as I loved it down there-I always felt like a fish out of water there. And [interruption]--. 5 I always felt like a fish out of water there. And as soon as I got my first reliable vehicle, l decided l wanted to go on a road trip and was like, "Where am l going to go? Let's go check out the mountains!" And--, and I was real big into kayaking. I started getting into some of those mountain biking and--. Kayaking a lot, and I was like, "Well, this is--, this is a great place to go do the things that I love doing in the places they were made to be done." So, I made my first trip up here when I was seventeen years old. And [pause] I was just, "This is home. I--, I belong here" And I went through all--, I went through all my late teens and twenties and even early thirties coming here. This is where I came to--, to be me. And I never thought in a million years that I would have an opportunity to live here. I mean, this was a very, very tourism driven market. What--. In the mid-2000s, what little left was manufacturing. Like, Catet})illar was here and that was--, that was only--, that was only going down, man. Never thought it would be realistic. I didn't want to sell real estate. And there was really not a whole lot to do here. Well, in 2008, I got a phone call from a bridge finn based here: a national company. Just happened the owner wanted to be based in Franklin, and they recruited me from Florida to come up here. And I was newly married and just kind of adding everything up. It was like, "I cannot--, can't say no to this." So, we moved up here for that job. And almost from day one--. This was in 2008. September of2008 that I moved here. Relocated--. And it was literally almost from day Rob Gasberro 6 one that the economy, our--, specifically our industry, just got worse and worse by the day. And they actually hired--. We didn't--. In 2008, we didn't know what was going to happen in 2009 or 2010. Looking back, you go, "Oh, the writing was on the wall!" But we just kept hoping, "Maybe this is--, maybe this is just a hiccup or something. We'll get out of this." So, I was actually hired on to kind of help get us through the way things were looking in 2008. And it just never got better. And--. So, finally it was in 2000--, spring of2010, the company that moved me here pulled me into the office one day and said, "Hey, man. We love you to death, but we don't know if you're going to have a job in three months. We're giving you permission to look." When they said that--.] mean, that was a big deal because they spent a boatload to bring me here. [pause] And I became fi·iends with Cory. He and 1--. He was in real--. He was selling real estate. Things were so tough for him. He was working at Chick-fil-a down in Clayton. And he and I became good friends. We were riding bikes together a lot. And at the time, me and my wife and him and his fiance--. They were--. Him and Bethany were not married yet. But we just hung out together. And one day we went to lunch, and we're like, "lvlan, what are we doing? This is--. We're both starving. \Ve have no idea. Things are bad now. Things could be even worse in six months. Tluce months. A year? Might as well work tor ourselves. This town needs an outdoor store. We're both outdoor nuts." Neither one of us had many resources to tln·ow at it. [pause] And we just--. \Ve were both pretty resourcefiJl from our previous career paths, and we put together a business plan, an idea. And we were really--, really--, intentional with it and went and talked to a bunch of people. We had tons of people tell us, "Man, I've never seen a business plan so comprehensive. This is awesome. Wish most people did this." And we're like, "Ok. Well, this is cool, but" [pause]--. It's just a--. It was just a plan, and neither one of us were entrepreneurs Rob Gasben-o 7 coming into this. So, we didn't know--. Our whole objective--, kind of our whole--. Up to this point, our whole business model has been--. You do kind of [pause] We don't do anything orthodox. We don't do anything by the book. We do "Ok. Listen. Pretend that this never existed. If this had to be--. How would we want this to be done if there was no protocol for this?" It's kind of the way we've operated everything to this point. And even with conceiving our business, laying it out, there's probably a lot of sh1ffthat we overthought--, or [pause]--, overthought or probably made just too comprehensive. And looking back we were going, "That was actually--." [pause] NS: Correct? RG: Yeah. It was--. It was doing that was what set us apart [pause]--. Yeah. ln 2010, all--. Literally, doors just opened in Jl·ont of us that were supposed to be opened, and doors closed that were not supposed to be opened. And we just kind of followed this path. And we were going, "Hey, this is what we feel like we're supposed to be doing." When we opened our shop in2010, things were dismal here, absolutely dismal. Unemployment was twenty-two-and-a­half percent inll'lacon County. Housing was just a disaster. There was nothing strong economically: And in--. We were telling people that we wanted to open an outdoor store selling hundred dollar rain jackets. Not cheap. Expendable--, or things that would require expendable income, which hardly anyone had an expendable income. There were people that didn't even have money to buy food. And everybody said we're nuts. "You guys are crazy! You're--, you're--, you're--.llove you to death; you're going to fail." [pause] Fail at this or get fired next month and still not know what to do. At least I'm writing my own ticket here. So--, anyway, yeah. That's kind of how--, how it came to start. Rob Gasberro NS: Awesome. So, what were, like, one of your main goals when you opened the business? Like--. Or was it more of just kind of doing your own thing? 8 RG: No. So, our main goal--. Is that--. That is actually a really good question. Because there's a lot of--. I think that's probably one major flaw with a lot of entrepreneurs is they don't have enough long-term goals or [pause] definitive goals. You obviously have to be able to adapt and react. And you got to have something to work towards. And at the time when we opened the shop, neither one of us had kids, but we knew we wanted to have families. And I think our--, [pause] our--, our biggest--. Our main goal was that we wanted to build something that would grow into a business. That we could hand the keys to our kids one day and say "Listen. If you want to run this, its yours. Take it. And if you don't, we can sell it or dissolve it. Or whatever." \Ve wanted it to be something that would--, that would--, that would--, !hat could have the potential to be more than--, more than just a tiny mom and pop shop. The other thing was we wanted to--. \Ve--, we had a goal that we wanted to make sure--. We would--. We wanted our wives to be stay-at-home moms. We--, we were hoping--. We wanted to set it up to where--. Hey, at least we'll call this a success if--, if our wives can stay home with kids, and them not have to work, and we don't have to go get second jobs. That's a win. 1\nd then along with that--. That--, that kind of stuff is on a more nuclear level. But a bigger thing is that our--. As a business model, we've had a very, very big community--. There's been a big, huge community component. Not pointing fingers at other businesses, but there's a lot of people--, that's-a lot of entrepreneurs-that call themselves entrepreneurs, that really all they are are people that had a hobby and wanted to turn it into a business. I don'! think that's entrepreneurship. I'm not--, not knocking on that, but there's a lot of people that just want to shop up. It's a job [pause]--. They show up to their store, unlock their door, open this cash Rob Gasberro 9 register, flip the sign, and they sit there and wait for people to come in, sell what they can sell. At the end of the day, five o'clock, lock the door, go home, and start it over tomorrow. And there's--. That type of operation does nothing lor the community. Doesn't do--. So, we knew--, we knew that we would have to--. We wanted to be very, very involved. And in an industry that was--. I mean--. The other thing too, going back to the--, all the--, the "What's the worse thing they say?" In 2009, 2010, 2011, online sales were just growing by double digits. I mean, people think Amazon's huge now or whatever. But back in the day, it was like--. Nobody bought things online in the late 2007,2008. Very few ever did. [pause] Now it's massive, but the growth--, the growth that internet sales went through in that period--. It was not to be ignored. And we knew, man, the only way that we ever have a chance of competing against the growing online segment is taking care of people and being involved in the community. Letting--. Billy and Sally that live here six months out of the year know that we get plugged in, and we invest our time and resources in the community to help make the community just a better place for all of us. And it makes someone go, "You know what, man. I really want to support those guys. Yeah, I could maybe find that jacket or that pair of shoes lor fifteen percent less online--, but--, or go to Walmart and get it." But you're pretty much stocking the coffers of Bentonville, Arkansas, and doing nothing for your own local community. So, community-mindedness and setting goals was super, super important. NS: So, you were talking about--. How you were saying, like, just opening your doors at morning time then closing at live AM, or five PM is not entrepreneurship. So, how would you define true entrepreneurship? RG: I think it's different for everybody. Some of the--. Start with the things that you have--. You have to be selt:motivated. If you're not a self-motivated individual, it'll never work. Rob Gasberro 10 And in our particular case--. What worked great for us is that--. This was a--, a--, a blessing. I don't want to calJ it an anomaly because there's lots of businesses that started this way, but I don't see how this could have been done--. Cory and I would both tell you there's no way that we could have done what we did with just me and my wife or just him and his wife. But, the two of us together were, I think, the only way this happened. Because looking at it now, our--, our strengths and weaknesses--. Cory is a little bit more self-motivated than I am--. [pause] There's tons of other characteristics he would telJ you that I have that he doesn't have, and there's other . things that he has that I don't have. The--, the--, the compatibility and the complimenting of that was--, was a really big deal. But in general--. Let's say for entrepreneurship tor a--, tor a sole individual--. And there are people in this town that I am very close friends with that have opened businesses by themselves. They just--. They got to--. They--, they have more--. They're probably taking more work home with them at night than I do, but you have to have--. Self--. You got to be self-motivated. You have to have a vision. You have to be a goal-setter. You have to be able to--, you got to be able to be creative. Street-smart is way more important than book-smarts. I took a--. And 1 feel bad. This is for a college class. But [interviewee grins and chuckles] the number of things that I bring to the table every day that I got from USF, I couldn't count on one hand. But, some of the--, some of the best entrepreneurs I know just have--. They're street-smart. Being able to think outside of your own--. That's another thing too is that lots of people are, "Well, I think this store should have this." Or "I think a business should have this or this because I like this." I'm thinking about the Joe--. Have you ever seen the movie Joe Dirt? NS: Maybe once. RG: Alright, Joe Dirt. There's the--, the--, the Indian guy who has the firework stand--. He's got a firework stand in the middle of the desert, and all he sells is snakes and sparklers. And Rob Gasbcrro 11 Joe Dirt asks him, "Man, where's your--, all the big fireworks." And he's giving all these crazy big names. And--, and the guy--, the--, the--, the Native American guy who owns the Indian--, or the--, the--, owns the firework stand, he--, he's going, "But I don't like those. I like snakes and sparklers, so I sell snakes and sparklers," And he's like, "Man, no, no, no, no, no, no. There's way more out there than that." And there's a lot of people that go "Well, I think--, I think this is what a business should have." And you have to--, whether it's retail or whether it's a service­oriented thing--, you have to be able to understand there are people out there that may want things differently than you see it, even within the own--, with--, within the--, the vein of--, that you live in. Like you said. It's retail. A kitchen store down the street--. A guy owns that shop. He makes--. Eighty percent of his inventory may be things that he will never personally use or has no interest in. But he knows to be a good kitchen store, you got to be comprehensive and do all this. But you got to be able to--, you got to be able to accept a way of doing things that are outside of what you are just personally interested in. [pause J There's no question the risk involved with entrepreneurship is unspeakable. You never know that every decision that I make on a daily basis--. Essentially, whether it be how I take care of someone or howl buy--, how I manage, budget--, whatever. Every--, every decision, my kids' livelihoods ride on the line. It's different when you're an employee, when you work tor a company. You screw something up, you get fired, go get another job. This here--, it's--. You screw up--. I can't quit. Cory and I get in a fight about something and then argue--. Or, I could have a crappy day at work and go, "Arghh." 1--, 1--, l don't have any option to quit. Quitting is--. [pause] And--. My customers are who fires me. Not--. I don't have a boss to answer to. Anyway. And then--, and then you know what you--, what you got to put on the line. You got to be risky. This--, this is--. If you're not--, if you're not willing to take a risk--. [pause J Rob Gasbeno 12 NS: Got to be able to do that. RG: Y cah. Not a lot happens in your comfort zone. NS: So, talking--, talking about risks and stuff--. Well, did you ever face any challenges through the years? RG: Yeah. Absolutely. The first thing comes to mind--. And back to the--, the last question you asked was--. There is absolutely no place for pride in entrepreneurship. And it's a--. There's some--. I--. Us included, I know lots of entrepreneurs that have made horrible, horrible decisions. They were pride-driven. Most of it is tied to entitlement like, "1 feel like I deserve this. I worked so hard for this business. I deserve a brand-new truck." or "i\,ly competitor has this, and by God I'm going to have the same thing. And J'm going to tell that--, that--, that brand--. I'm going to--. They bought ten thousand. I'll buy twenty thousand!" And whatever--. It's--. There's a lot of very, very poor business decisions made by entrepreneurs that are pride-driven. There's absolutely no place for that to be successful. You know, you could say it goes back to the risk thing. There's some people that--. You got to be confident, and you can't--. Confidence and pride are two different things. For me to be able to sit back and go, "You know what, l'm--, J'm--.I think we can sell this. I think we can carry this, and we'll sell it. I'm confident in that." That's a diticrent thing than going, "I deserved to be able to do this." Or ''I'm entitled to that different circumstance." But--. Anyway. [pause)--. And then risk too. What was the question you asked? NS: With--, like--. With challenges--. Like, that you--, like--. Did you take risks and--, like, what challenges came from all those? RG: And now--. Ultimately--. So, for--, for any business owner, the two biggest risks--, the two biggest risks that you take on a daily basis arc things that a!Icct your cash flow and Rob GasbeJTO 13 things that affect your--, your staffing, people. [pause] And making sure you hire the right person if you're hiring. Making sure you hire the right person. Or, not the wrong person. And if you do, how to handle it. And then--. [pause] Money decisions. Being smart with the money. You have to. And it's--. When you're playing with money, there's risk every day. [pause] NS: So, speaking about community and everything because you were talking about that a little earlier. What are some ways that you've--, either--, Contributed to--, to the community. How've you, like, contributed to the community through your business? RG: The biggest things--, the biggest things that we've been involved with are--. We haven't--. It's--. We haven't done this as much in the--. Recently--. \Ve--, we did it a lot (26:54) when we weren't stretched as thin hack two or three years ago. We would rather be involved with charitable contributions than just giving charitable contributions. Like, [pause] "So and so's having a benefit, can you donate something?" "Yeah, l can donate something." But I would rather much more know what l can do. Getting involved with--. Getting--, getting plugged in to things going on in the community. Or getting involved in civic groups--. We're involved--. We're--. It's kind of dissolved and morphed and changed, but we were--, we were involved with lhe main street program. First two years we were in business, I was president of streets of Franklin. Not a big deal, but just getting involved with civic groups. Now, the ATC board. l was president of the ATC board and represented Franklin for the--, all the Appalachian Trail communities in the country for--. Did that for three years. [pause] Having an outdoor store, we're--. Heavily--. Been heavily involved with the Boy Scouts. And--. [pause] just getting involved--. And the other thing too is that we're big event people. We love doing events. So, we do two events through the year. One of them is an--, is an event that we host for main spring; it used Rob Gasberro to be a Little--, Little Tennessee land trust. [pause] \Ve do--. It was Beer, Bluegrass, and Barbecue. It was a big, big friend-raiser--, fi.mdraiser for them. We host that. And then we do a fall festival in October. We just had it two weeks ago. [pause] Music, 50k trail race. And have brands come out and do expo stuti. And have breweries come and bring beer. Just a good, fun, big party. [pause] Yeah. It's just events. We love events. Just giving people in the community who are, "Ahhh, there's nothing to do in Franklin on a Tuesday night (29:01)." "Something's going on at Outdoor 76 this week." NS: Let's go. RG: Yeah. Can't say there's nothing to do. We wanted to try to mitigate that. NS: That's awesome. [pause] Then, kind of going along the lines of small-town 14 businesses and stuft:-. How do you feel--, or did you welcome--, or do you welcome big businesses coming into Franklin? So--. Like, Walmart. Or if a big, like, REI came in. Would you be welcome to that? RG: Nab, I wouldn't be welcome to that. I mean, that's--, that goes without saying. Yeah. Obviously--. I have invested--. I personally have invested interest. I know the other foriy-five thousand people living in Macon County may go, "Sweet, right on!" And--, and that's--. I get it. It's funny--. lvly perspective changed dramatically when--, when we started this. That's what I said--. It's--. Ten years ago, if you'd have told me that I'd be--, I'd be an entrepreneur,"! don't know. That's not who I am." And clearly back--. Now, that is absolutely who I am. But--, but up until I owned my own business, I never had an appreciation for local business. I mean, I lived in the last--. My--, all of my adult years from eighteen to--, eighteen to thirty-two, I lived in--, I lived in downtown Tampa. And, man, it had two Targets, two Publix stores. Sweet Bay had every big box that--. I needed to go get a shirt and a tie for a business meeting in Denver Rob Gasberro 15 tomorrow. I had three malls I could choose from. Never once was I seeking out--. "Well hey, here's this [pause] seventy-five-year-old men's store that's been family owned down the street." Never once thought, "Hey, I should maybe go check out and see ifthere's any local businesses." I had--. And--, and I just never had an appreciation for what they brought to the--, brought to a conununity--. And--. And--. [pause] Now, thinking about--. Knowing how many people I know that own businesses in this town. If:-, if--, if a big box store came that offered everything that you can buy from small businesses in this town, and then there weren't enough people to support those small businesses. [pause] Bleak isn't the word. Town--. All of the town--. Most of the town's character is built on small businesses. Community relationships--. There's lots of people who could care less about small business. And they're plugged in and have their own friends. But they're--. But it is a--. from an economic perspective, it's huge. Every single--. If--, if that--, if my shop does--. If my business does a million dollars next year, do you know where that million dollars stays? In Macon County. lfWalmart does twenty-seven million dollars next year, you know where that twenty-seven million dollars goes? Bentonville, Arkansas. Lowes goes to Charlotte, or whatever. It's a--. You can go, "But it brings jobs." [pause] How many jobs at Walmart are--. Are people making enough money that they can--, that they can grow our economy? The people make enough money to live off of but that's about it. So, when we have--. from--. [pause] Everything. The money we make allows us to--. That's the other thing too. \Vhen you own a business, it's kind of·-, kind of like a sales job in the sense because--, because I don't get paid in commission but--. lvly business grows by twenty percent, and I want to give myself a twenty percent raise. I can do that. It's a great thing. It's a cool thing about working hard. The harder you work and the Rob Gasberro 16 better you arc--. More--. You--, you--. \'hereas, someone who busts their ass working at Walmart, "Hey can I have a raise?" Maybe. Maybe not. And if you do, it's going to be--. But this is--. I have the--, the ability the harder I work that l can pay myself more and keep more money in tllis community. And the same thing--. I can pay my employees more. That's one thing \vc've always been prided in is paying--. We're a retail store, and people will get us--. Fold !-shirts and hang stuff up, but I've got--, I've got three guys that work for me that make salaries. And they're like--, would make the same thing they would make with their college degrees going and workir1g at whatever career they thought they were going to chase down with a college degree somehow. They couldn't make--. If REI came to town, and they said, "Hey man. See you later. We're going to work at REI." They would take a drastic pay-cut. [pause] I'm not saying--, I'm not saying that big box is a bad thing. I think there's a lot to be leamed about--, fi'om Asheville. Looking--, looking at Ashville's downtown, there's a lot--. People can rip Asheville apart or--. There's a lotto take away from--. I'm not saying it's all good or it's all had but--. [pause] I don't know. What do you--, know--. What do you know about Asheville? Take the food in Asheville. Is--, is Asheville a great place to cat or not? NS: I would say--. I mean--. I don't go there often, but I don't know of any--. Like, from references--. r don't know. RG: Ok. In the--, in the culinary world, Asheville is now one of the places to cat. The number of amazing culinary experiences you can have in Asheville--. You could go to a new restaurant every night for a year. NS: And it'd be great every single time. RG: Cool food all over the place. [pause J Name one chain restaurant in downtown Asheville, or one big box store inside the loop that's on Tunnel Road. Rob Gasberro 17 NS: I'm assuming there's not much. RG: There's none. There's zero. They don't--. They have--. There's no--. [pause] I don't know if it's a city of Asheville kind of ordinance or whatever, but there's no--, there's no big chains or franchises in--, in downtown. NS: Yeah. So, like, that makes it just all that awesome stuff. RG: I think there's the McDonald's--, McDonald's on Biltmore. But it's all--. You have Moe's and stuff like that. But in the city, you have--. There's really nothing. They've prided themselves in keeping it--. It's all businesses owned by entrepreneurs, and they're killing it. NS: So, how do you think people perceive your line of work? Like, say, people in Franklin. How would they view you [pause] and your business? RG: [pause] I don't know. [pause] That's a tough question. NS: We can maybe come back to it. RG: No. No. No. It's--, it's cool. It kind of forces me to think about it. It's--. [pause] I think like anything else, there's lots of people that have a really--, a value--, a perception of high value. There's probably a lot of people that have a lot of perception of negative--. It's--, it's our whole country now, man. [pause] Keyboard warriors on Facebook, "He's an asshole!" "That's awesome!" "This is horrible!" It's like everybody wants to find a reason to complain about something or argue about something or whatever. There's people--. I--. He--. I sec--. I'm saying this because you can get on Macon Issues, and you can read people just blast some local businesses, "This town! Look at Clayton! Clayton's awesome (37:00)." Don't blame the town. It's--. More people have stepped up to the table who invest in that community than they have here. It's not the town's fault. Town's have nothing to do with it. There's a lot--. It's--. I think--. Rob Gasberro 18 Go back to your other question about--, [pause] kind of eluding to what characteristics are an entrepreneur's. You kind of have to not care. You do have to care, but--. Kind of got to be able to show up to work every day and go, "I'm going to do the best that I can. I got three kids to feed. I've got a wife to take care of." And do my job as good as I can. (37:40). Chances are the people out there that are saying bad things about us don't spend money at our shop anyway. And people that support us, we're grateful for, and we appreciate them to a very high degree. I really don't get caught up--. There's a lot of people that it sounds--, like--, more focused on the negative stuff. There's a lot of people that say, "l'vfan, we love what you guys do for this town and what--." We've taken--. I'm not saying this is a pat on the back--. But we've taken probably twelve thousand square foot of real estate between the first shop we were in--. And--. Well, the building that we have now. Completely renovated it on our nickel. So, there's four doors on this street that have gotten completely modern, cool face lifts. But otherwise, they would have been left alone. We did--. People tell us they appreciate that. I don't know. NS: Adds the neat flare. RG: That's a good, hard question. NS: Yeah. But--. And that was a good answer too. So, I guess, kind of summing it all up. If you want to sum it all up. Like, what is the contribution, or the legacy you want to leave through your business--, business coming into the years? RG: [pause] First word that comes to mind--, and it's weird. I don't know. [pause] Just looking at as thwugh an entrepreneurial lens, two things really--. One is passion. I--. Kind of going back to what you said, "What's the perception of--, what do you think the community's perception is of us." I would hope that even the people that think good or bad go, "Man, those guys are assholes, but they're passionate." Or "Those guys are awesome, and they're Rob Gasberro 19 passionate." Because the moment you own a business, and you're not passionate about it--. Oh man. That's bad news. So, I want someone to be able to look back and go, "Man, those guys were always on fire for what they did. They--, they never took for granted that they got to wear shorts and !-shirts and hats backwards to work every day. [pause] Drink a pint of beer and work on a laptop at the same time. But they were always passionate. Passionate. Passionate. Passionate." The other thing--. Passion is an entrepreneurial trait that you have to have, ok. For us, specifically--. This is not an entrepreneurial requirement--. But just lor us, if there's any--. The one biggest legacy is--, is stewardship. Hands down. It's no--. Unwavering stewardship. I want--. I--, I would want someone to always be able to look at our business and go, "Those guys that owned that business never acted like business owners. They acted like stewards of--, of a business. They--, they--, they took care of it. It was something they felt like they were--." I look at this business every clay, going--. The whole--. A lot of people--. 1--. You're probably too young to remember--. Back in--. I think it was 2010 or--, [pause] might have been 2012. Obama was still president, and everybody blasted--. And the big--. And the entrepreneurial community--. The--. The--. Obama had a phrase that said, "You didn't build this--. You didn't--. If it wasn't for us, you wouldn't be able to build the business you have. You didn't build your business. It's because of this." And there was a lot of entrepreneurs that got just totally bent out of shape about that. And--, and--, [pause] Yeah. And in one sense, we built--, we built what we have, but I think--, [pause] I think--. Just kind of having that--, that mindset of purpose. We--. I believe things happen for a reason. There's supposed to be--. None of us--, none of us chose to be born in America. None of chose to grow up in the households that we did. It's Rob Gasbcrro 20 the cards you were dealt. We look at this as that. This was the card we were dealt. We were--. Someone said--. God said, "Rob. Cory. Here's tins business. I've inspired you guys with the thought to do this [pause] and have armed you with all the skills and the resources to be able to do it. Now go make it happen." And then us going, "Ok. We're going to take care of this. This--, this is the card we were dealt. We didn't make this card. We didn't--, we didn't--." [pause] And it's taking care of it as it:-. [pause] It's our responsibility. Not a--. [pause] Lots of parents--, lots of parents tell their kids, "I brought you into this emth, and I can take you out!" We don't look at it as, "I built this business, and I can shut it down tomorrow if I wanted to." And it's not--, it's not mine to do with that--, like that. NS: Awesome. Well, is there anything else that we didn't talk about that you do want to talk about? Or that's on your mine? Like, "Got to say this." RG: [pause]! don't think so, man. [pause] Patience is a big thing. [pause] Kind of goes back to that pride and entitlement thing. We were very, very fortunate--, [pause] to where--. From year one, our business grew. In--, in 20 I 0 and '11, when--, when businesses--especially small, main street businesses-were not supposed to be growing--. In fact--, with--. There's some of our peers and our--, our--, our--. Other business in other small towns that do what we do going, "Man, I only lost ten percent this year. Thank God!" "I only lost tlfteen percent. Thank God!" "Oh my God, I heard--, I heard he's t1at. Hooooo. Hallelujah!" And we're growing. So, we were very, very, very fortunate to--. We--, we saw growth for seven years straight, which is unheard of in--, in our industry. Especially--, especially now. That's--. Arc you talking more industry specitlc stuff you didn't ask about, "Ok. What's--, what's going on in the outdoor industry as a whole?" I don't think that's relevant. That's taking entrepreneurship in the outdoor Rob Gasberro 21 industry to a whole--, whole new level. But--, but there are--. I know lots of people that arc self­motivated, are disciplined, arc creative, arc really good at learning. That's another thing too. That's huge, huge, huge. You have to be willing to--. You--. If--, whenever you think, "Ahh, I know it all. There's nothing else to know. I've got this figured out." You can't do that. There's always someone who knows more than you, and you should try to be figuring out what that person knows that you don't know. But you can have all of those things together, and if you don't have patience--. [pause] I know a lot of guys now that started businesses and [pause] two years in, the business isn't where they want it to be. And, "I quit!" Throwing their hands up in the air. "I'm done." Man, no. You're almost there. Get through this hump, or whatever. Or, being able to--, being able to rationally evaluate why--. "Ok, it's two years, ancll'm still struggling. I've been patient. I've been patient. I've been patient." And being able to look at what you need to change. But patience is a big--, is a big thing. I've always been a very impulsive--, "I ·want it now. I want it now. I want it now," kind of guy. I built models when I was a kid, and I was painting them before the glue was dry. Like,"! want to be able to play with it." "But you just took it out of the box." And that--, that doesn't--, that doesn't fly here. You got to--, got to work, cultivate, plant a seed, sometimes wait a long time tor it to grow. We're dealing with that right now in the business we opened in Cherokee. Thinking, "Oh my gosh. All of the pieces and parts are there tor us to throw this much at it. And within two months, it will be gangbusters." And it's not. It's not--, it's not losing money, but it's not doing what we thought it would do. And then as an entrepreneur, I'm sitting here going, "Cut the head oft! Get everything out of there! Let's close it down! Let's shut her clown!" And having to sit back and remind myself, "No. Just--." !fit's not bleeding you, just keep--, keep planting seeds. Figure out how to--, figure out how to do something different. And Rob Gasberro maybe--, maybe you got to do something--. It's like taking care of three kids. Not all three of your kids are going to have the same exact personality; same--, same needs. So, being able to adapt to that. That's it, man. I think I've thrown everything at you that I know. 22 NS: Perfect. Now I may have lied. I do have one more question if you're wanting to take it. RG: Fire away. NS: So, through dl of it, do you think entrepreneurship was worth it? RG: No question. Absolutely. I wouldn't--. [pause] If--. [pause] You just made me think of something else: sacrifice. And that--, that goes without saying. We kind of--. Everything goes along with risk. But sacrifice is--. [pause] Throughout my career, I've had--, I've had--, I've had years where I've made five times what I'm paying myself right now. And if someone walked back in here and said, "Hey, man. You can walk away right this--, fi·mn this right now. No strings attached. No penalties whatsoever. And you can go back to doing that making this much." Not interested. No. No way. My quality oflife right now is on another level. Not saying that it's not hard. There's--. It's crazy hard--. [pause] All of that comes ll·om the discipline aspect.! don't pay myself a lot of money. But my quality of life is phenomenal. And then that's one of the reasons--. And then being able to make a difference. It's not--. I don't--, I don't feel like I go to work every clay, punch a time clock, do something for mysel( and then go home. I really, truly do believe--. [pause]! get to help people who are coming to western North Carolina that arc wanting to go see a waterfall or go--. A guy wants to go, "Hey, man. I want to go propose to my fiance, girlfriend on a mountaintop. Where should I go?'' I'm the guy who gets to tell him where to go to pop the question. That's so--. That's cool. I get to help people have fun and play outside and--. People go in here all the time and go, "!V!an, I grew Rob Gasberro up here. I've lived here my whole life but never seen this waterfall. I've never done that." Or, "I've never 11y-fished here. I've never done that." It's--. Let's make it happen. And, I wouldn't trade it for the world, man. NS: Well, that's awesome. Thank you so much for this. RG: Yeah, man. [END OF FORMAL INTERVIEW] Transcriber: Nathaniel Smith Date: November 26, 2018 23

Object’s are ‘parent’ level descriptions to ‘children’ items, (e.g. a book with pages).