Focusing on Amazon Businesses that Manufacture in the USA | Sam Haddad
In this Prime Talk Podcast Sponsored by GETIDA – Sam Haddad - Co-Founder and CEO of Greenhaus - a company that buys made in the USA Amazon brands. He will talk about Focusing on Amazon Businesses that Manufacture in the USA, also more information about his life's journey. #samhaddad #greenhaus
About Sam Haddad of Greenhaus - a forward-thinking consumer product company seeking to acquire, fund, and support the long-term growth of Amazon's private label businesses. We look for leading categories and products that are made in the USA, have strong sales history, rankings, reviews, and opportunities for scale.
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Yoni Mazor (Host) 0:06
Everybody welcome to another episode of prime talk today I have a special guest that I’m having Sam. Haddad. Sam is the co-founder and CEO of the greenhouse, which is a boutique house of amazon FBA brands, which is special because it's focused on buying us manufactured products. So Sam, welcome to the show.
Sam Haddad (Guest) 0:23
Yoni thank you so much for having me. I'm glad to be here. I've listened to many of your episodes. And it's an honor
Yoni Mazor 0:30
And honor to have you thank you so much for your time. Okay, so today's episode is going to be the story of you, right? The story of some Haddad's, you're going to share with us? Who are you? Where were you born? Where'd you grow up? Where'd you go to school? How'd you begin your professional career, or your business career and station to station until where you are today with the world of e-commerce. So without further due, let's jump right into it.
Sam Haddad 0:51
Great, can't wait. It's fun to go back and go down memory lane. So I’m excited. I was born and I was born and raised in, Brooklyn, New York spend my whole life in Brooklyn. And, you know, I went to a private Jewish school for 12 years after that, went to NYU undergrad. And believe it or not, my major was sports business. I don't do anything with sports now. But it was great. It was a great education. I enjoyed my time there. What it is, is that they take the typical business courses and the typical business classes, and they just add it with a sports theme. So financing accounting, marketing, consumer behavior, and then tying it in with, you know, what's going on in sports, different businesses within the sports industry. And I enjoyed it. I'm a big fan of a lot of the New York teams.
Yoni Mazor 1:52
So, you jumped, you jump, like skyrocket into a, into a lot of things. I want to come back a little bit, we'll reach out to the sport, you know, potentially the sports career later on. Alright. Okay. So you mentioned I grew up in Brooklyn, this touches by which part of Brooklyn,
Sam Haddad 2:08
Midwood, graves, and area.
Yoni Mazor 2:12
Got it. And then when you were growing up, so you were doing sports at all? Or were you like doing any work anything entrepreneur or like your family? What kind of industry were they involved with? For example, give us a context of, you know, you grow up, what kind of environment you had.
Sam Haddad 2:26
Got it. So, you know, I come from a very large Jewish community centered around families centered around friends, religion, work. So, you know, work was always an emphasis in the house, whether it was at school, whether, whether it was out in the real world, and the family has two, I would say they have deep roots in two different businesses. So whether it's wholesale, or real estate 40 plus years in both different industries. And so,
Yoni Mazor 2:54
But they're always here in the United States, in the New York area, was it all over the states? Or what was the kind of dynamic for the family model?
Sam Haddad 3:01
Yeah, always here in New York, based out of New York, real estate in New York, the wholesale business based out in New York. And you know, it was interesting to see the times and how the business grew from let's just say when I was a kid, as to where I was, you know, two years ago working for the family company, and I’ll get into that after
Yoni Mazor 3:29
Got it, deep-rooted in the community life and the fan life. And are you saying there's one or two charts for the family one is real estate one is wholesale. So real estate in New York is by you know, pretty much self-explanatory, but the wholesale will give us a little bit of a touch of what was, what kind of products or categories or scale or dynamics were started when you're a kid and it will touch you later or where it is currently in it's a relevant to the story,
Sam Haddad 3:54
Got it. So you know, the company primarily manufactured imported, men's ladies and kids soft goods. So just touch on the categories briefly. Sportswear active wear underwear, loungewear, hosiery, accessories. And, you know, the typical way of selling products to retailers was licensing brand names and creating products, under certain categories under those brand names, working with retailers, having the relationships, and being able to distribute from the top tier to the bottom tier, whether it's a Walmart or a target, or a Nordstrom down to the dollar stores such as dollar general or family dollar. And, you know, over time, just establishing more categories, more brands, more licenses, more relationships, and eventually distributing product to as many retailers as possible.
Yoni Mazor 4:54
Got it. This business was founded by your parents, your grandparents, what was the history of the foundation
Sam Haddad 5:01
40 plus years founded by my grandfather,
Yoni Mazor 5:04
Nice. Your grandfather was born here in the US. Born here in the US.
Sam Haddad 5:06
Yoni Mazor 5: 12
Got it. So when we also New York area and founded this business, a wholesale and they don't want to resell real estate or then for real estate or also wholesale or both of them all at the same time,
Sam Haddad 5:17
Real estate was always in the cards running both companies side by side. And I would say you know, you know, real estate is it's not a set it and forget it. There are daily activities, daily management. But in terms of wholesale, I always believe that if you can run a wholesale business successfully, you can do anything, because there are so many different parts of the process. And it's challenging, it's very challenging, because every single retailer wants something different, whether it be a product or a way that you ship the product to the company or the retailer,
Yoni Mazor 5:38
And the customization that each retailer wants in their shenanigans.
Sam Haddad 5:43
100% it is, it is one of the hardest businesses to manage, in my opinion. I’m on the younger side. So I’m a little biased. But yeah, again, I believe if you can be successful on wholesale, it lines you up for success in so many other things.
Yoni Mazor 6:07
Got it. So sounds like your grandfather started the business, you know, the empire, so to speak, around the 80s that was a ruse. And then while your father stepped into the business as well and his family or uncle's or what was the family structure was everybody in or just a few in and everybody kind of scattered rather?
Sam Haddad 6:23
Yeah, not getting too deep into it. It was my father and my uncle. And they work side by side running both of the companies. Eventually, you know, the next generation came in and I started working there full time in 2013. At that time, just dabbling in and out of the different departments, whether it be sales, production, operations, and seeing where I fit in, right
Yoni Mazor 6:53
But one thing I want to capture here is that once again, we're gonna jump into the recent years, but when you growing up, are you are you hearing anything about the business you're absorbing anything immersing in it or just not at all? You're just focused on the things that you'd like to hear your hobbies or the sports or the friends or partying or just studying being a geek? What was your like, your, your daily flow? What was your like, I know children or teenagers, they absorbed right, like sponges, and what can environment where you're absorbing as far as you can remember, you know, looking back
Sam Haddad 7:22
Big sports fan, always loves to play. I'm a massive hockey fan. I like to watch hockey, I’m a massive Rangers fan. I play ice hockey, play roller hockey. But you know, I love every other sport, whether it be football, whether it be baseball, I’m that I’m a big Mets fan. I don't like basketball.
Yoni Mazor 7:43
Really? Okay, next I explained that it's hard to you know, they're not getting love. So it's hard to love it. Yeah, I got it.
Sam Haddad 7:52
In addition to that, I always loved technology, right? I was always looking at the newest software I was always looking at the newest apps. And I really, that's where my I would say my entrepreneurial spirit came in, always up to date with the times always knew what was going on. And it was kind of like, you know, I have this, the old world of, you know, I can go into this family business and take my version of it, right, and try to add value. And then there was always this entrepreneurial spirit, where I know what's going on in the world, there are apps to be created. There's so much information out there to do new things. And that was like the constant struggle back and forth. Like, what do I do?
Yoni Mazor 8:39
And so when you're growing up as a teenager, or this is more like after you graduate or growing up as a teenager
Sam Haddad 8:46
the way that I always lived is always thinking, you know, five or 10 years ahead in the future, even from a young age I, I kind of have this anxiety gene that
Yoni Mazor 9:01
It's called the entrepreneurial bug, it was scratching you as you were growing up and as you grow mature and older, you realize, okay, here's the things are out there, here are the opportunities and you're seizing it, it sounds like you're seizing and now we're gonna touch it very soon. Okay, so let's kind of touch on where you went to college and you graduated with your graduated in which year?
Sam Haddad 9:20
Yoni Mazor 9:21
2015. But, you know, even before you graduate, your enter kind of the professional world or business world, and what was your, I guess, the first station in the business world?
Sam Haddad 9:27
So first station in the business world was in 2013, I started working for the family company. And just that again, dabbling in the different departments and working out figuring out what worked best for me, eventually, in 2014 decided to start my own division in the underwear and loungewear categories. You know, it was my first foray into learning about a product, what goes into it, how it's made, all the different parts of the process, you know, it's one thing to do go into a store and buy a pair of underwear. But then to understand what goes into creating the product is a whole different ballgame. I think probably one of the most influential times in my life was when I walked into a store and saw my product on the shelf for the first time, I think in any product creators, you know, time, and being in that in that world, to have that moment is I wouldn't say it's eye-opening. But it hits home, it's a great feeling. It's one of the best feelings that I’ve ever had. And so, you know, 2014, decided that I was going to start these divisions, figuring out what needed to be done. So obviously, the underwear and loungewear in the apparel world are different sizes, just understanding the different specs and the different materials and the different colors and knowing what the customer wants. And knowing what the customer buys.
Yoni Mazor 10:56
Do you guys have like internally like a structure or educational structure where there's a learning program, or it's more like, okay, you want to start your division, take a machete and maybe make a trail,
Sam Haddad 11:07
I mean, you know, boots to the ground, just going into stores walking to a Marshalls or Tj Maxx looking at what's on the shelf, looking at the colors, looking at the materials, looking at the packaging, right? Brick and mortar, retail is all about packaging, and how you present the the product to the customer without them even touching and feeling it. So again, learning all these different things and, and combining it things you never knew before. Right? I didn't understand the quality. I didn't understand different material weights, I didn't understand different types of waistbands. It was again, talk about eye-opening before it was eye-opening to know what goes into the whole process and how much work and time and devotion not only to create the product but then you got to source it, you got to manufacture it, you got to bring it in, you got to sell it, you got to the warehouse, I mean, there's all different parts. And
Yoni Mazor 12:04
I want to jump into the cycle. Because just this is brilliant because this is the craftsmanship of the whole process. It's not just one thing. It's a whole chain reaction, right? So I want to touch kind of the chain reaction and things. So okay, you're in the stores, boots on the ground understanding that. Okay, this is what's up in the market. These are the trends. This is what's going on this is I guess what consumers are relating to, then you create your concept, I guess? And then what do you do? What you just go overseas manufacturing it? How do you start sourcing it? How do you start manufacturing its logistics cost structures? How do you do that?
Sam Haddad 12:32
It's a great question. So um, I guess, sometimes you got to work backward, right? Brick and mortar retailers work on price points. And depending on the retailer, there are higher price points there is lower price points, middle price points. And I think as a merchant, you need to go into a store and figure out where you sit, right? Look, look at the brands that you have, look at the quality of the product and say, am I at this retail am I at an opening price point retail am I at midpoint retail at my highest retail is my brand and a is my brand, and b or a-c, all these things, play into how you're going to create the product and source the product. And us being let's just say having opening price point product to start knew where we needed to be where our product costs needed to be. And so going out using the agents that we had all over the world, and sourcing the product led us to manufacture well, majority of underwear comm based underwear is manufacture in India. So I would say 90% of the production was based out of India.
Yoni Mazor 13:38
Got it. But I kind of wanna understand that. When you talk about cost structures and the product, did you limit yourself said, this is my sweet spot? I can make it happen? Or he said, okay there's a few of them. And I’ll make a variety or portfolio of these types of products to fit this kind of retailer, or maybe on the lower price tier or in the middle or, or did you try to hit the whole spectrum? What was that?
Sam Haddad 13:59
Yeah, I think as time goes on you, you sort of realize that you can't have just one brand and one product-specific or global across all the retailers, right, it's just never going to work, retailers also want something different. They don't want, you know, store a doesn't want what store b has for a specific reason, right? Retailers, retail accounts are shrinking these days. And they want differentiation they want specialized products. So you kind of grow into this pattern where you want to good, better best and understanding what that means whether it's a different brand or a different quality. And I may sound repetitive but it's important when it comes to merchandising when it comes to walking into a store, you have to be able to realize where you fit in and where you want to be.
Yoni Mazor 14:59
Got it. Okay, so I just want to remind everybody here that you're still in school meaning you're still on NYU, university, and business sports management.
Sam Haddad 15:07
Yeah, I was taking the train back and forth six times a day, literally. My schedule was jam-packed between shopping stores between having, you know, internal meetings and, and figuring out how this business was gonna come alive.
Yoni Mazor 15:18
Back is that what it was? Yeah, it was that like, the best time of your life because you're like, in like a crock pot, it just gets on the pressure keeps on, you know, hitting you up and, and warming you so much you were learning, you know, educational stuff on, you know, on the institutional, educational level, but then, you know, real business real world, you know, from scratch,
Sam Haddad 15:36
No doubt, no doubt, and to be able to go to a class about consumer behavior, to be able to go into a class that I’m pitching the executive, executives of fox sports, right, about some sort of crazy business plan. And then to go back to work and to, it's not necessarily in the same field, but to implement the strategies that I learned and discussed with peers and colleagues. It was, it was incredible. It was incredible. I learned a lot I you know, I I’m in a different place now. But I wouldn't trade that experience. Yeah, I think I’ve learned so many lessons along the way, I wouldn't trade it in for anything,
Yoni Mazor 16:22
You're saying you're able to connect the dots between what was going on with the real business world experience, or you're getting and the educational material, you can absorb it even better, because you can connect the dots, because most of the students, I would assume the theoretic, theoretics, and then maybe the years afterward, they get hit with the actual reality of things we're going to get all the same time. So I guess was very impactful.
Sam Haddad 16:42
Correct. I'm a big believer in, in learning, but doing at the same time, you can learn all you want, you could sit in as many classes, but if you don't have the true experience, if you don't, you know, you know, dip your feet in the water and get that ultimate learning lesson. It's in my opinion, it's not as impactful.
Yoni Mazor 17:04
Yeah, it's pretty, pretty ambitious of you to do it all at the same time. Okay, let's go back to the business. So you read these product lines, I guess you sound like you created, you know, a multitude of them not just one single product that it's supposed to, like a joker that wins it all. It was kind of a variety of things. So while you went to the agents, and they started sourcing and the sourcing is this what you want, boom, you got it. Right. And it was turnkey? Are there any pockets ever samples, touching it, feeling it? Give me another run? And give me this? What was the actual, you know, the creation process for you?
Sam Haddad 17:33
There were many horror stories.
Yoni Mazor 17:36
There we go. It took us a few 50 minutes to listen. That's the real essence. You know,
Sam Haddad 17:41
Whenever you're diving into a new category, whenever you're diving into a new business, you're going to have your ups and downs. You're going to learn things along the way. But they're going to be the best learning. They're going to be the best lessons that you take, you know, successes about how you deal with failures. And I do believe that things happen for a reason. So going into you know, the for I would say the first horror story that we had was we figured out the different types of the different material that the material that we were going to go forward with, we figured out different waistbands, we place our first order we have a meeting with for the first time with a retailer and we show them the kids which are the which base cooter
Yoni Mazor 18:45
Animated design, right? The kids
Sam Haddad 18:52
Right. Aligned book of what we're bringing in. And she goes, you guys have a three-pack of boxer briefs, men's boxer briefs. And inside the pack is a black, grey, heather, and white pair of underwear. Nobody buys white underwear. Right. So now you're bringing in let's just say 24,000 units of this product that's just not going to sell. Wow, great. You walk out of the meeting and your heart drops. And this is again it's the first time now underwear is a volume-based business right? So bringing in 24,000 we made may seem like a lot it was a lot because it was the first order and you don't have anything lined up you don't have any orders lined up for your customers lined up.
Yoni Mazor 19:18
Oh, so you didn't book anything. You just, you know, you're so confident ever able to move in and just brought it in and
Sam Haddad 19:26
Everything was, was brought into stock. So basically what we did is we worked with a manufacturer to figure out a way to remake or turn the whites and the blacks or turn the whites into gray heathers. I forgot which color was
Yoni Mazor 19:41
They just dieted with a little sharpie or insert the other color in
Sam Haddad 19:48
I don't know, I don't know what they did. But we figured out after a certain amount of time
Yoni Mazor 19:54
To turn around a few days, a few weeks, a few months. So as you remember
Sam Haddad 19:57
No, so you know with underwear typically it's they say it's a three-month lead time. It's never a three-month lead time, let's just say four to six months. And I don't remember exactly how long it took to change it. But that was horror story number one.
Yoni Mazor 20:15
When you, when you bet one back to that buyer, it was lady buyers, you mentioned.
Sam Haddad 20:20
Yoni Mazor 20:21
And what happens in the setup, problem solved and she absorbed and she bought it, it was good, we're good to go. Did you patch it up?
Sam Haddad 20:26
You know, we sprinkled around the 24,000 units, and a test for everybody. For all different retailers, I believe it went to three or four different retailers to start some bought 240 units, some bought 1200 units. And that was the start. That was the start
Yoni Mazor 20:42
At the end of the day, that little project that the first batch took a hit on it financially or and then that's like tuition, are you eventually able to make a little profit, it's for you,
Sam Haddad 20:50
I would, I would say the strategy for the first at least six to 12 months was just breakeven, right? Breakeven gets your foot in the door, creates relationships with the buyers know the right people get an understanding of where the business is where it's going. And it helped because you know, you can't expect, expected as go into a business, create products, sell to buyers and, and be rich on day one. It's just not gonna happen. You know life is a process. And when you plant the seed, don't expect the fruits to come right away.
Yoni Mazor 21:23
Yeah, it's not overnight. Yeah. That's good. Okay, so take us to the next horror story. This is pretty interesting and valuable. I guess for you know, the first lesson here, try to book in order before you make a massive production of any kind as much as possible. Sometimes you just got to take a leap of faith. That's kind of a probably a lesson learned. And also try to confirm the colors if you're dealing with color variations. Alright, the second lesson here.
Sam Haddad 21:46
Yeah, not only just try and confirm the colors, but understand who your customer is and what they're buying, right. If you walk into a store, and you don't see any white pairs of underwear, take note of that. Because it's that way for a reason.
Yoni Mazor 21:59
It's funny because some of them can think through the note the other way, there's no way or maybe I can break-in. So how do you measure that?
Sam Haddad 22:05
And that may be it may be but you have to do your research and you have to look into it. Interesting. Okay, second horror story. Second horror story. I mean, underwear in brick and mortar retail is all about packaging, right. And so we first started manufacturing, basic core underwear, 100% cotton. If it was heathered, it would be a, you know, a 9010 blend of con poly.
Yoni Mazor 22:29
And we say how they're just I apologize for my ignorance. It was I mean, a heather blender mixer. What does that mean?
Sam Haddad 22:35
If you walk into a store, and you looked at a great pair of underwear, it didn't have the heather on it, it would just be a boring, dull gray. But when you mix it in with a header, it has this gray whitish look to it.
Yoni Mazor 22:49
So what's the other man like I mean a color or even a blend?
Sam Haddad 22:53
Blend of cotton and poly. So it's typically and I said 9010 before, it's really 60 40, 60% cotton, 40% polyester. And so the first line of underwear was more core basic, right? Your everyday, pair of underwear or type of underwear. As the business matures, we realize this trend of athletic underwear, performance underwear, right using synthetic materials, whether it be you know, polyester spandex, combining the two to create a spreadsheet pair, and something that you can wear, whether it's at the gym, whether it was playing sports, something that was more dynamic. And so that type of underwear was packaged differently. Basically, in a polybag that had a Ziploc on top that had a unique design on its front and back in a pouch. And when you're dealing with that type of underwear. I'm sorry when you're dealing with that type of packaging, you have to get it right. So we ran or say we bought 24,000 units again, I don't remember the number. Exactly.
Yoni Mazor 24:02
Give me 2000 to do doesn't, you know 24,000? Yeah, but it wasn't in the 1000s I guess. Okay.
Sam Haddad 24:10
And sometimes packaging gets accepted when it shouldn't have and you're dealing with now you're 24,000 units waiting to be packed in your package and you realize that there's getting spelling mistakes or it says made in the country of origin instead of saying made in china or made in India. And there are problems now this is not a major problem. But these are the types of things that you go through and learn along the way that you'll say it's never going to happen again. You know, I was brought up with the mentality of I can't promise you that I won't make mistakes, but I’ll never make the same mistake twice. And, you know, it's, it’s part of life, we're always gonna, we're always gonna have our ups and downs, but it's what you learn from that. That makes you into the person to the successful person over time.
Yoni Mazor 24:59
So so hold on. So when you're paving the way and learning from all these mistakes, did you take a moment to sit down and write sops, you know, standard procedure to pave the way, you know, to the next team to come in and do it, you don't have to keep doing it you can scale or with that kind of the dynamic also.
Sam Haddad 25:14
Yeah, not in the beginning. But as I matured and got older over time I started to, it is a very is a great app on the iPhone called notes that I have accumulated a lot of information and knowledge over time. But it only, I would say, over the past three, four years, I started doing that.
Yoni Mazor 25:38
It's good. It’s part of the process of saying, you know, I take for granted what I know. And what I learned in Australia scratches that I heal from, I better start documenting and absorbing it into a written document so I can share with you know, teams and leadership teams that I want to create and build going forward. And you get empowered a skill tremendously from that, I believe, for any organization. So it seems like you're already touching that process.
Sam Haddad 25:59
Yeah, I think coming into the business, even in the beginning, was very humbling, right? I thought you make product design product, you make it overseas, you bring it in, you sell it, no problem, you can sell 2 million units within a month. I quickly learned that wasn't the case. And it was humbling. It was eye-opening.
Yoni Mazor 26:24
Honestly, it was painful, right? It was painful. To certain degrees.
Sam Haddad 26:28
I don't know if it was painful. It just, made me realize that this is real. This is the real world, right? You need to work hard to bear the fruits of whatever comes right. And I, I never looked back. I never looked back.
Yoni Mazor 26:48
And tell me that when you mentioned earlier, when you say your first the first time the product in the store, what was that product, the underwear? Was it the sports or the one before that with the 24,000 units where you had to change the color? Or was that I mentioned to you, you went to the store and saw your product was that those batches are later on?
Sam Haddad 27:02
I don't remember, it may have been the loungewear product, which was easier to make. It's, not as complex.
Yoni Mazor 27:09
And when you went to so you went randomly to the store to shop, you're not looking for a different product. When you go there. You want to see how it's shelved how it's packaged, right? You're saying you're shopping and then boom, you see it? That was kind of the moment that hit you.
Sam Haddad 27:20
Yeah, it was. As I said previously, it was one of the craziest feelings knowing that you put all your hard work and you know, with Amazon, it's, it's a little different, right? You're not it's a virtual listing, and it's on a marketplace. But when you walk into a store, and you see it and you touch it and you feel it in, and you can see one unit hanging on a hanger is all the hard work that you put into making this product over the past six to nine months or even on some cases, six to 12 months.
Yoni Mazor 27:55
Magical moment. Yeah, it's pretty cool. Okay, so I want to I guess, start moving forward and paving the way to the next stations. So you started 13 to 14 to set up your vision, to 15 you already graduate from college? And was your next station? What was your next evolution?
Sam Haddad 28:09
Well, in 2015, I also got married, so I had a lot
Yoni Mazor 28:13
Oh, very good, yeah.
Sam Haddad 28:17
Thank you, I got married on the younger end. But, you know, that was also part of the journey and realizing where I was where I wanted to be where I was going. And, you know, over that time. So in addition to running the underwear and divisions, as I said in the beginning, I was always forward-thinking, right, I always knew what the next wave was. So whether that be ecommerce or whether that be Amazon, I knew there was a gaping hole for me to come in and take that business or that aspect of the business to the next level. So we own some brands in-house and I created some direct consumer websites. But in addition to that, I took the products amongst all the different divisions and launch an amazon business where first we were selling to amazon as a one p vendor. There are challenges with that. And it's, there was just not a lot of control, eventually transitioning that business to a third party FBA model and strategy. And that's where my amazon experience started. So that was probably back in 2015. Where I was going to Seattle, I was meeting with dams and gmms. And that's where the divisional merchandise manager.
Yoni Mazor 29:32
Give us a breakdown of the income
Sam Haddad 29:35
And then on top of the DMM is a gmm, which is the general merchandise manager, which is probably right under the VP or it depends on the company. But, but they gave me a lot of information as to how amazon works as to what the algorithm is about. And I still look back to those notes today. I don't usually take notes in meetings. Believe it or not, that's one of the only meetings that I’ve taken notes in,
Yoni Mazor 30:02
I went to Seattle to amazon and you're drinking from a firehose, like, I got better to write this down.
Sam Haddad 30:06
It was, it was I, you know, had a phone call after whether it was my wife or my father, and I’m like, this is the real deal. These guys are for real. They know what's going on. They know what the future is, they know what they're doing. They're building out infrastructure, and they have more data than any other company will ever have, in my opinion, right.
Yoni Mazor 30:26
I mean, it's more commercial, usefully, you know, commercial, you know, it's very useful commercial, meaning to get a sale for products. Nobody beats them. If it's just data about where this guy is cheating with his wife, cheating on his wife with that kind of data, it's not needed. I'm saying for consumers, which is huge. It's trillions of dollars. It's very, very impact on profit. Google has a lot of data, but many other kinds of things. , not directly calibrated just for consumerism, where amazon is kind of is. So it's an interesting world there. Yeah.
Sam Haddad 30:56
Yeah, they gave me the roadmap for a successful product and amazon. Super helpful. I flew back to New York, and I knew that I needed to focus a lot of my time on amazon. Now.
Yoni Mazor 31:09
Question about amazon. So the other portfolio brands that you had, you had licenses, right with the business. So you put all of that in with amazon one p or is it parts of it. And then once you hit three p, you consolidate all them, or it was all in or so
Sam Haddad 31:22
There were a few different brands and amongst a few different categories and a few different products that we focused on. One p learned that business again, it proved to be very challenging and shipping in two days and conforming to their guidelines and chargebacks up the wazoo. It proved very difficult. And to be honest with you, you know, one of the brands that we were manufacturing products under we became a top 10 underwear brand on amazon within a year learning how important PPC was and how important it was to put money into the product listings. And even back then back in 2015. You would think that back in 2015, it wasn't as crowded or it wasn't as expensive but underwear is a very challenging category because of the players that reside in that category.
Yoni Mazor 32:14
I got big Mahler’s I can and everybody. You can’t avoid it just everybody's eyeballs on these on this segment.
Sam Haddad 32:22
Correct, correct. So, you know, again, I learned the INS and outs eventually saw how big FBA was getting and how much control we can have over the FBA model. I mean to a certain degree, and decided to make the switch, it was probably the best decision I ever made because that's where all of the amazon FBA my amazon FBA experience came from. It's probably one of the most or the biggest reasons that we started greenhouse. And that's why let me get
Yoni Mazor 32:53
Just straight to 2015. Just to recap a little bit, you graduated college, you got married, you start selling on Amazon, and right away, you also start selling on FBA the same year
Sam Haddad 33:02
FBA was I think about a year and a half or two years later.
Yoni Mazor 33:06
So this is around 2016 2017 already. Right?
Sam Haddad 33:08
Yoni Mazor 33:10
And that changed the whole paradigm you that's when things became more explosive for you.
Sam Haddad 33:13
Um, yeah, I mean, it, as I said previously, I knew what the future was, I knew how important e-commerce was I knew how important FBA was, or amazon was, I knew how important last-mile delivery was, right? Industrial real estate. Probably should have gone that way also, but, but I didn't. And so I was always very pushy in tackling these new concepts, but not new, but new for the company,
Yoni Mazor 33:46
New formats, new distribution methods, and digital, its ecommerce. It's amazon, their fulfillment centers, so, its layers upon layers of opportunity that you got to pay the way and discover test, trial and error, you know, until it kind of clicks. And then you scale from there. Okay, so talk to us about 2017. You hit FBA, and what was the evolution to the created where we are today?
Sam Haddad 34:05
All right, great question. And I think this will tie everything together and give everybody a much better picture. Um, so there was a meeting back in 2017 or 2018. Where, you know, I was saying how these amazon brands they have. So basically, what you're, what these brands and products have is digital real estate, right? We all know how valuable real estate is right? And tangible real estate, but this digital real estate is, in my opinion, going to be worth a lot over the next 10 years, 15 years. And so I proposed the concept of buying an existing amazon FBA business. For one reason or another, it didn't happen. And so I would say fast forward to 20
Yoni Mazor 34:53
Proposed or you're proposing to just to make it we could bring some context here to the board or to
Sam Haddad 34:58
Family, friends, family friends, family, whoever was in the, you know, the wholesale world. For again, for one reason or another, it just didn't happen. A lot was going on between running the underwear and loungewear divisions between running the existing amazon business. And I think, you know, it shouldn't have been a priority probably. But here I am now, and obviously, this is what we do. But again, fast forward to 2020. And we all know what happened with covid. You know, I took a look at myself and where I want it to be in 5, 10 years, and what I was truly passionate about. And again, as I said, so many times on this podcast, I always think about the future 5, 10, 15 years, where's the world going to be? I had a ton of product experience, I had a ton of operational experience, and I had a ton of amazon experience. And I knew that it was my time to take on the next challenge in my life. And so, you know, 99% of people that were in my position will call me crazy, based on the decision that I made to leave, and again, take on the next challenge in my life, but I was confident, I was confident because of how big amazon was becoming.
Yoni Mazor 36:12
So you're telling me 2020 with a pandemic, etc, you, you know, you're looking 10,15 years into the future, you build yourself already you 2020 you started what 2013 you already about about seven years into the business. That's a wealth of experience. So I’m going to put all that behind Devin just and to this project. Now you call it you know, it's an art project to light so loving well animal no more than a year later. So take one ticket, tickets to that moment, that pivotal moment in where you made the change you're given notice and what you do next day, just what do you find the money? How can you just amazon businesses like how you check your back pocket? I got a feeling well, what was the dynamic
Sam Haddad 36:50
There? So yeah, we're almost 12 months into the greenhouse. And I will tell you what I knew on day one, but I thought I knew what they want. And what I know now, right is a completely different ballgame. It's always like that in life. As you go on, as you get 100% of your focus and attention to something you're going to learn a ton as time goes by. And, you know, I look back and I say, well, I’m very happy with the decision that I made. And it goes back to passion. Right? At the end of the day. I call myself a product guy. I'm from the product world. I'm a product visionary. I understand everything that has, that goes into creating a product, launching a product making a successful product. And it's important. You know, there's a lot of founders of, you know, aggregator, aggregator founders that come from the m&a world, they come from the banking world, they come from Amazon, right? But it's another, it's another thing to come from the product world.
Yoni Mazor 37:56
And you come yeah, what's interesting with you is just on packages for a little bit. You come from the product, product, brick, and mortar, the relationship of all of that all the images are creating it, and then the amazon one p. And that was on three p. Now you got a lot of stuff on your belt. That's, that's pretty impressive.
Sam Haddad 38:12
Correct. And so yeah, again, I felt confident, but it goes back to passion. And my passion was creating incredible products at an unbeatable value, and selling them in a relevant way. To me, Amazon is probably the most relevant way possible, between direct consumer and amazon. And I just knew my strengths and my weaknesses. I knew that working with FBA is also challenging because amazon is a beast in you know, in its way. And if you don't have the experience, it could slap you side to side and turn you upside down before you know it. But again, you know it. I'm happy in the direction that I went in.
Yoni Mazor 38:59
Okay, so let's talk about the actual you know, greenhouse effect, right?
Sam Haddad 39:00
Yoni Mazor 39:02
I love that I like the greenhouse effect. I like that. I bring the greenhouse effect to make an impact on the marketplace and the world of brands. So 2021 how, I mean, how'd you get the money? How soon did you start buying tickets a little bit to those inception moments?
Sam Haddad 39:20
Yeah. So it all goes back to experience and having banking relationships and being involved in the financing of millions of dollars worth of inventory in the past. And it always helps, right? It helps to have that knowledge and to have those years of experience. So we had a banking partner, come on board, at least to start. And we hit the, we hit the ground running. I knew that in the beginning, we had to establish a network of brokers we had to establish a network of let's just say within the amazon world, whether it be yourself whether it be so many others so many of the other influential people within the amazon community. And when I say community, I mean it, because I was never part of an industry or a space of a sector, where the community is so strong, where everybody wants to help each other out. And I come from a very traditional brick and mortar world where everything is kept in a very tight, tight-knit secret and very closed off.
Yoni Mazor 40:19
Almost like a clash quick-ish. Yeah, like, you know, like, spots where it's hard to break it in unless there's complete trust and you know, something like that.
Sam Haddad 40:26
Yeah, and I’m not saying it's wrong, I’m just saying that there's so much different, there's so much to learn from one another. And so, you know, starting greenhouse, I knew that we needed to differentiate. If we want it to survive, you know, I have a famous, famous saying that I always use is that I don't want to be a statistic in two to three years, right? I want the greenhouse to be a no-name for people to know, oh, if I’m, if I want to sell my business, under these parameters, they should come to the greenhouse. And so from the beginning, I knew that we need to differentiate, um, you know, it took months of refinement, months of looking at deals and, and, and really, it confirmed our direction. And within the next month, or month and a half, and depending on when this podcast comes out, you're gonna see a new rebrand as to who we are, what we're doing consumer-facing or seller facing, as to what we believe in. Right? Now, what we believe in isn't just pulled out of a hat. Again, it's through its living proof. It's what I’ve learned, the successes, successes, and the failures. And so what we're trying to do with a greenhouse is I call ourselves a boutique house of amazon FBA brands, where we're specifically focused on acquiring businesses that manufacture their products in the USA. Again, it's, it's something that we've implemented due to realizing what works, what doesn't, at this point, you know, if I get 100 deals across my desk, we're probably only interested in one. And there's a reason for that, right? We know what works, we know, what doesn't, we were product people, and we could see the whitespace, we could see, is this product going to be relevant in, you know, 2,3,5 years from now? Does it work within the Amazon ecosystem, right? And I think with having the USA concepts, we're able to make our inventory replenishment, a little bit faster, more effective, you know, basically a frictionless supply chain, we're also creating a synergy between manufacturers. So we know that if we acquire a business, maybe there's a way to bring down the cost immediately based on the network of manufacturers that we have, you know, even looking at what's going on now with the supply chain of freight prices are through the roof. I mean, me being in the business for as long as I have, which isn't crazy long. But it's eight years or now 10 years. I've never seen container prices, whether it's 20,000 miles to the west coast, 25,000 miles east coast, grain containers for $2,000. And that was the margin. Right? That was the margin. So you know, we're tackling that issue. We’re avoiding the duty we're avoiding the tariffs. But again, I also think it's beyond that, right. It's manufacturing product in the USA, it's, it's helping the US economy, it's, you know, creating sustainable products.
Yoni Mazor 43:33
It tells a story to the consumers, it comes close to the heart of the US consumer is still the leading consumer society of the entire planet. Yeah, it's not there's marketing involved. Yeah, building trust, there are so many, I think interesting and unique components that are embedded into the mission that you guys have focusing on us manufacturing. Now, it looks extremely auspicious, because of all the challenges with global sourcing. So you kind of hit the nail on the head there.
Sam Haddad 43:59
I do think it's a, it's a short-term issue that eventually is going to get taken care of. So is it great now? Yes, but I think it's beyond that. Right? It's even if containers were at $2,000. We know that if we can focus on quality products, quality brands, right, because it's not about buying products, it's about buying quality brands, then we'll be able this tailored criteria is going to prove us to be successful in the long run. Now in addition to that, we're also looking for quality over quantity, right? We're not looking to buy two to three businesses per week or three, three to four businesses per week. It's about buying three to four businesses per year where we're giving 100% focus in our attention to those businesses
Yoni Mazor 44:41
Right so it's not by mall by a few of them are the few that you buy is gonna blow up because you got a clear mission statement, a clear business model. It's close to home across the heart, with less friction. So you want to hit that momentum and blows out to be like almost like a head and shoulders Procter and gamble kind of status and caliber where it's synonymous, it's ubiquitous. And so you have a boutique of brands, but each brand has like, you know, it's colossal like it stands for. So they have maybe on a few 1000. But each one is almost a billion-dollar round, as opposed to having 500 or 5000, where it's kind of get diluted and maybe lost in the translation of what the purpose of each brand are unique qualities of the brands of the product.
Sam Haddad 45:20
Yeah, hit the nail on the head. And, you know, when we look at an acquisition, it's more of an emotional connection, like there needs to be an attachment to the brand, there needs to be an attachment to the business. The sellers have put so much work hard work and so much effort into creating it to turn their baby into something successful. And just like it's their baby, we take it over and become our baby. And because we're only focusing on three to four per year, it allows us to get as I said, previously, we're diving into every single aspect of the business, and nothing gets thrown to the back. And so in addition to that, whenever we look for brands we're looking for a short term and a long term vision, right, so whenever we analyze a business, we create a list of both of these. So looking at the short term, which is typically in year one, it's how can we optimize the current business on amazon, using the existing infrastructure, the existing foundation. And I think we're proven to be able to do that, right? Being involved with amazon for a certain amount of time, you, you come to realize what works, and what doesn't. But I think the long-term vision is where we get creative and where the real return comes in. And you know, we are a greenhouse, we are buying amazon FBA businesses, but we do have this wealth of experience and wealth of knowledge that I do think is going to allow us to take each brand that we acquire and blow it out of the park. And so whether it's, you know, are there opportunities to go direct to consumer, and are there opportunities for brick and mortar expansion? You know, it's a different ballgame when you're shipping a Walmart, or Costco, or even at TJ Maxx or Marshalls.
Yoni Mazor 47:09
What's interesting in this whole dynamic, it's, it's already in your wheelhouse you come from that you already, you're entrenched in the amazon world, and you do it successfully, we can translate all the circles, back and forth. So any bad brand that you buy, and maybe they're only kind of living solely on amazon, you said very quickly, get turnkey and optimize the amazon aspect of it. And then like I said, the next step of evolution is everything that you have on your belt, all the relationships with all the brick and mortars and the customization of brick and mortar and their shenanigans. And that is as when you hit a homerun on so many levels.
Sam Haddad 47:41
Exactly. And, you know, I think at the end of the day, we want all amazon sellers to know that if you're going to sell your business, and if you manufacture your products in the USA, we are the people for you. Right? This is our specialization, this is what we know, and this is what we do. And there's no doubt
Yoni Mazor 47:46
You're passionate about it, as you mentioned
Sam Haddad 47:49
Exactly product visionary building, and taking products the next level, having the expertise, knowing the whitespace having that futuristic mindset, and being able to expand growing the amazon business, but being able to expand beyond that in let's just saying years, 3,4,5 and even 10 years down the road.
Yoni Mazor 48:22
You love it. Love it. Okay, so I want to kind of package episode. So thank you so much for sharing, I learned a lot and enjoyed it. So let's see what we have so far. Tell me forgot to correctly. So born and raised in Brooklyn, right 2013 already start working, you know, in the brick and mortar world doing wholesale and having licenses brands and then within one year, you already create your division, you pave the way to new or new product types and make all the mistakes possible that it all clicks away. And you know, it comes all together and become successful, in 2015 you know, doing all this while you know still in university learning, you know, business and sports management 2015 or big year you graduated, you get married, or you start selling on amazon one p and then around 2017 you start amazon FBA and then you take the next step on the amazon evolution for the company. And then you know you do a few years successful run 2020 heads, how did the pandemic you just say completely shift everything that has so far it's under my belt, I’m paving a new way. And looking into the future, you create a greenhouse, you know, clear mission statement in mind, men in the USA. You know, it's your ticket in your optimizer within the first year and then years to come. You'll take all the expenses you have on your belt in, and make all the dynamic habits where it just blows up, you know, makes it less friction and more resonance on the brand story in the consumer's hearts is we got everything correctly so far.
Sam Haddad 49:40
I would love to hire you to tell my story. Perfect.
Yoni Mazor 49:44
Thank you for that. Okay, so now I want to kind of close the episode with two points. The first would be is if somebody wants to reach out and connect and engage with you, where can they find you? And the last thing would be is what is your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there?
Sam Haddad 49:57
Sure. The first thing is if you want to if anybody wants to reach me, whether it be a seller looking to sell their amazon business or whether it be a manufacturer looking to work with us, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org greenhouse is spelled g r e e n h o u s, please do look for our rebrand. Again, I don't know when this podcast is going to come out. But please do look for it. It's going to be seller-facing and we are looking to just forget about it. If you want to sell your business, just have a conversation, we're more than happy to help in any way possible. What I will say is, I’ve learned a lot over time, I’ve had a lot of experience. And the reason why I am where I am now is that I chose to do something that I love to follow my passion. And I’m a big believer and you have to love what you do. Because if you don't, I just don't think the ending is going to be what you want. And it may sound cliche, and people may have said this on his previous, previous people, previous guests may have said it on the podcast before. But if they said it, it's true. It means something. And again, success is defined by how you deal with failures. It's, I can't even begin to say failure is a part of life. So if you think you're going to bypass it or if you think it's just not gonna happen to you, it's happening
Yoni Mazor 51:29
Embrace it. Take it risk and take it as an opportunity to grow. Okay, so your message once again, you know, follow, you know, your passion. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, learn from the mistakes grow from there and you'll probably have a good ending a successful story, and an overall good experience. Okay, Sam, thank you so much. And you're very, very much I hope everybody else I enjoyed it as well. Stay safe and healthy everybody next time.
Sam Haddad 51:52
Thank you yoni, appreciate it, take care.