Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Paracord Planet Experience

The Paracord Planet Experience
An Interview with P2's President, Ryan Aldrich

CEO Ryan Aldrich, shown above, describes P2 as "an experience."

I had a very concrete idea of what my first internship would consist of. I would be grabbing coffee for my manager, filing papers until I lost sanity, and be called “kid” or “temp” instead of my actual name. My experience interning for Paracord Planet has debunked all of these theories and then some. I walk into the office where I’m greeted with a heartfelt “good morning, Jack,” I take a seat at my desk amidst the rest of the marketing department, and I am able to converse with the company's executives every day. Not many of my friends can say the same. Here’s some further proof of how awesome my internship is: I got to interview the CEO. The free-flowing of communication and transparency of business affairs are part of the “sense of community” that Ryan Aldrich, my boss and the president of P2, says makes our company extraordinary. Here’s my interview with Ryan…

Me: How did Paracord Planet come into formation?

Ryan: We were originally an online retailer of a lot of sporting goods and tactical goods, and paracord was one of those items. I noticed that survival bracelets were becoming very popular, and we decided at that point that it was a market we could get into. We had the custom ability to enter the market because of some of the products we had been selling, including Phiten titanium necklaces. So, our original thought was that we were going to enter the bracelet industry, and got our website set up for that. We also did offer just the hanks of paracord, too, and those started taking off even more than the actual bracelets. We started to look at the needs of the bracelet-makers out there and it just kept expanding.

Me: What kind of advantage does selling the raw materials, as well as the finished bracelets, give Paracord Planet?

Ryan: There are a lot of people out there that sell the raw goods, but what gives us the advantage is that we do both, and we do both well. We try to stay very in touch with our customers and what they need, and having made bracelets, as well as now selling the materials to make bracelets, we’re able to stay in-tune with the needs of our customers.

Me: Asserting “Paracord Planet” as one of the largest names in the industry, what would you say is the main reason for this company’s success? What makes P2 special?

Ryan: I think there are a few things; one of them being the passion that our people here have. Our goal isn’t to sell paracord, our goal is for an experience. We want our customers to come to our site and not only buy paracord, but also to interact with other people through our social media, see examples of how paracord can be used, and so on. We’re not just a retailer. We’re here to help customers have that experience with our product.

Me: Paracord has really heightened in popularity over the last handful of years. Do you see paracord crafting as just a “trend” or something with more longevity?

Ryan: That’s a good question—trends are always hard to predict. Our initial thought process was that it might be a trend, but now I think that we can control it a little bit. I mean, just look at the diversity of cords we offer; When we started, it was just 550 Cord and it was 60 colors. Now it’s 550 cord, its 425 cord, it’s nano cord, it’s shock cord, and so on. It’s 350 different colors. It keeps expanding, and I think that will continue. There are some people that will be doing it just for the popularity, yeah, but even after that, we want to be the resource that the rest of our paracord users can come back to. Paracord is used for a variety of different applications, and I think we will continue to see that grow and expand.

Me: Just from operating our social media, I’ve seen how paracord has taken off overseas. Do you think that Paracord Planet is an organization that is scalable enough to deal with the increased demand abroad?

Ryan: Oh, definitely. I mean, we already ship to Canada, Sweden, and the U.K., and we’re actually looking at China, right now. There’s a lot of vendors coming out of China now, and although Paracord Planet will never branch away from offering “Made in the U.S.A.” products, as the quality of cord improves abroad, it’s another option for us. As the Chinese market develops, it helps us open up our capabilities and reach. Things are really starting to pick up in the U.K., too. That’s going to be the target of our focus in August, though, is an international scope. We’ll actually have Cari (VP of P2) switching over to an international role so we can adapt to the growing popularity of paracord around the world.

Me: How has your life changed from “Paracord Planet”?

Ryan: Personally, my life outside of work hasn’t changed a whole lot. However, inside of work it’s been a dynamic change. It’s a lot easier to work with paracord than it was to work with some of the tactical items. There were a lot more rules and regulations with the tactical goods, and a lot more that you had to deal with in regards to advertising in that market, which isn’t the case with paracord. The ease with which we can do business in the paracord industry really helps us open up and increase our capabilities. The one thing that has really changed is that when I started working here, we sold products. That’s what we did; now, we’re a brand.

Me: Final question: if you could pick any type of paracord to describe yourself as, what would it be?

Ryan: Oh boy, that’s the hardest question on here…

Me: I know. You did this to me during my job interview though, so it’s payback.

Ryan: This is hard, they’re all strong, so…

Me: (laughing)

Ryan: I might actually kind of veer away and go with something like “shock cord.” It’s a little bit more flexible.

Flexible, indeed. A big “thank you” to Ryan for allowing me to interview him, and thanks to all of you for reading this interview! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit more about Paracord Planet and our journey. Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, add us to your Google+ circles, and check out our Pinterest! We are also on Snapchat at “ParacordPlanet.” We are constantly running contests on all of these social media sites in which you can win FREE paracord, and would also love to connect with you and help grow our “community” that Ryan spoke so highly of! Join the #ParacordFam today.

Written by: Jackson Yakowicz, P2 Intern

For more of Jack’s work, view his full blog.