A Bigger, Better Way with Big Ass Fans

by Bill Woodward

Recently, along with my Elliott Davis colleague Eric Schmid, I had the pleasure of touring the Big Ass Fans facilities in Lexington, KY.  It was way cool, and we were blown away (puns intended) by one of the world’s largest industrial fan company.  The Big Ass humor was abundant and the tour a bit playful.  But under the surface is a remarkable business with, what I believe is, a unique focus on culture, people, product, and customer experience.

The tour began in a reception area with a very warm employee Kathy, and a wall covered with Big Ass patents.  For fun, the wall also displayed a patent for fire.  (Yes fire.  The hot stuff that’s been around for a while.  Apparently, Greinke in the second cave from the left collaborated with Grog the Destroyer under the big leaf quite some time ago and invented what we now know as “fire”.)  I’m wondering if there was an intentional link between fans (wind) and fire; or was this just pure fun and happenstance?  The entertainment continued past the reception area with lots of Big Ass promotional items, offices, and boardrooms named after monopoly properties, product displays, but also a hint of the disciplined business that Big Ass Fans is. “We’re not here to be average; we’re here to be awesome” surfaced quickly in the tour.  And awesome they are!

Along with the fun is a business highly focused on engineering and design excellence.  To the unknowing, fans may seem somewhat of a commodity. However, Big Ass Fans has taken a seemingly straight-forward product and made it an engineering, design, and performance force of nature – not to mention the unforgettable branding.

Our tour guide was Alex Risen, Big Ass Fans’ Public Relations leader.  His knowledge of the company, its people, customers, products, and services was impressive, and Alex seemed to know everyone in every building we toured.  Greetings and smiles were easily exchanged throughout, and company spirit and pride were abundant.  It quickly became apparent that the company’s fun and playful culture was enhanced with team members that truly enjoyed being a part of the Big Ass Fans’ family.

It is hard to talk about the company’s products and services without mentioning customer experience.  For Big Ass Fans, it all begins with the customer and the customer’s experience. Each fan is made to order, and most orders are preceded with engineering to customize the fan for each customer’s needs and wants.  This value-added approach de-commoditizes the product and is a big reason why customers are willing to pay more for a Big Ass Fans.  They pay more because they are getting more.  Not just a fan, but also a personalized experience.

We learned a good bit about fans on the tour, and one prominent takeaway is how Big Ass Fans is serving manufacturers.  Their fans create a better environment for their customers, many of which are also manufacturers or distributors with little or no air conditioning in their plants and warehouses.  Yet with properly engineered fans, really BIG ones, the quality of these important work environments can be much improved. Given the current labor challenges facing manufacturers, improving the environment for the men and women making and moving products can be an advantage in retaining talent.  Not to mention it’s the right thing to do.  As you wrap up reading this, I challenge you to consider what you can do to make the work environment in your facilities better.  No doubt if you do, it will lead to greater success and prosperity for your business, and for those that make and move your products.

If you need help growing your business, please reach out to our Manufacturing and Distribution team.

The information provided in this communication is of a general nature and should not be considered professional advice.  You should not act upon the information provided without obtaining specific professional advice. The information above is subject to change.