The Kade Wilcox Podcast: Jeremy Hamilton

Posted By Kade Wilcox | June 1, 2021

The Kade Wilcox Podcast: Jeremy Hamilton image

What does the way you present yourself say about you?

Do your clothes say, “I aim to lead?” Or do they tell your audience a story about how you’re in the business of only taking things half-seriously?

Whether you’re seeing clients all day, everyday, or speaking to executives in the boardroom, your appearance speaks volumes to the business owner you strive to be.

In this episode, Kade sits down with Jeremy Hamilton, manager and salesman of local Lubbock men’s clothier, H.G. Thrash, and gets real about how one’s presentation shapes their business reality.

Connect with the folks behind the episode: Jeremy Hamilton and Kade Wilcox

Kade Wilcox: Welcome to The Kade Wilcox Podcast. I'm Kade Wilcox, your host, and I love small business. I love the leaders who lead small businesses. I love the journey of starting a new company and figuring out how to manage people, and culture, and vision, and operations, and finances, and sales and marketing. And so on our podcast, we feature local small business owners who are in the trenches and doing the work. And we learn from them. What's going well, what's not going well, things they've learned throughout their journey. So thanks for joining the podcast and enjoy learning from others who are in the trenches and doing the work

Jeremy Hamilton: By saying we have the stores. It's easier to get where you're going if you dress like you're already there, right? And so if you aspire to be the CEO, appear like you're the CEO, you know? Whether that's in the way you speak, whether that's in the way you lead, whether that's in the way you dress, it makes a difference.

Kade Wilcox: Jeremy, thanks so much for joining my podcast. You've been a good friend for a while now, and I'm a customer of yours. And so it's fun for me to host you on the podcast and I'm excited for others who listen to our podcast to get to know you a little bit and also learn from your kind of unique role at H.G. Thrash. So for those who don't know Jeremy Hamilton, they don't know who H.G. Thrash is, why don't you give a little bit about your background and tell us about you and your family.

A Little Background on Jeremy Hamilton

Jeremy Hamilton: Yeah. Happy to be here and thanks for inviting me. Yeah, so, you know, I'm Jeremy Hamilton. I grew up in Idalou, Texas, West Texas. Moved away for a year, Texas roots, you know, brought me back here and I've been in the clothing business since I was 18, 19 years old. So I've been doing it for a long time. Then at H.G. Thrash, which is a locally-owned men's store since 2009. So my last couple of years in college and then stayed on full-time since then, and, you know, we truly, we truly are a, you know, a men's only store. You know, not to say women can't come in and shop, but it's just exclusively men's from sportswear to tuxedos. We sell everything. And so it's fun to, you know, be a part of our customers' lives and events and just create friendships and be a part of a special group of people. And so it's been a lot of fun.

Kade Wilcox: That's cool. Did you ever think when you're in high school, when you were in college, that you know, being in a business like a men's clothier would be in your future?

Jeremy Hamilton: You know, it's funny, it's so, you know, like you, Kade, I grew up in the SportsCenter era, right? And so growing up, watching those Dan Patrick and Stuart Scott, and those guys on Sports Center that were wearing suits and talking to them about sports. Those are two of my passions. I love sports, but then it kinda caught my eye. And growing up I always thought, you know, I'd love to have a job where I got to wear a coat and tie every day. Never imagined that it would be in this capacity. You know, it was — I didn't know exactly what it would be, but I just loved from a very young age, I loved the look of somebody wearing a suit. That is, you know, just been something that's always caught my eye.

So whenever I was in college I was encouraged by my mother to work a retail job. I had worked at a golf course in high school and at a feed store at the end of my high school year. So I'd always been in a service industry, but she encouraged me to get into retail. And so it just kinda morphed from there. And then I look up and I'm selling suits at Dillard's at age 19. And you know, then I went to the shoe department a couple of years later and, you know, here I am 15 years later and you know, managing H.G. Thrash here. So it's been quite a journey, but, you know, I've just always been intrigued by style and fashion and just kind of the look of a coat and tie.

Kade Wilcox: You know, this is — yeah, that's really cool. What a fun, fun journey. This is an interesting question that I have for you. So our audience for this podcast is small business owners, you know, men and women who have started their businesses, running their businesses, they're in the trenches. And you know, they're doing the hard work of running their company and growing it. I'm wondering what you would say to someone like that about why, you know, image — and I don't mean a vain image, right? Like, I don't mean an ego — but why would image, or maybe a better way to say presentation, you know, why would that matter? Regardless of whether it's a professional, like legal or accounting or finance, or if it's a carpet cleaning company or a service oriented company, like, why do you think after 15 years of being in this type of business presentation matters? Regardless of whether you're a teacher or, you know, whatever your role is, like, why would presentation matter in your humble opinion, 15 years into being in the men's clothing business?

Does Image Matter?

Jeremy Hamilton: Yeah. So, you know, I'm going to answer this and try to word it in a way that doesn't sound self-serving because, you know, no matter how I word this, it kind of will. But I just, I know in my heart of hearts, and I know humanity. In our humanity is, you know, right or wrong, we judge people by the way that they appear, the way that they speak, or the way that the — just the moment we come in contact with somebody, we make a judgment. And the more put together, the more you seem like you've got it together, the more people will trust you and follow you. And I tell the story to anybody, you know, who comes in the store and will listen to me pontificate for a little bit. But just an example of that, you know, we were in New York and flying back and I was in the airport.

I was young. Didn't have — this was when TSA pre-check had just started, but we were — Howard and I were — in New York. He had already gone through security. I'm standing in general boarding, but I have a suit on, and a TSA agent comes and grabs me and pulls me up through pre-check. And I get to skip all the line. And I'm like, what in the heck just happened? Well, you know, it's because, in my opinion, it's because of the way I was dressed, you know? It made a difference. I didn't have my pajamas on, I didn't look like, you know — I just looked like I had it together. And so, you know, us saying we have the stores, it's easier to get where you're going if you dress like you're already there, right? And so if you want to, if you aspire to be the CEO, appear like you're the CEO, you know? Whether that's in the way you speak, whether that's in the way you lead, whether that's in the way you dress, it makes a difference.

Kade Wilcox: That's really good. I think the really important thing for our audiences to understand is we're not advocating everyone wear suits and ties. I think fashion — I think the point of what both of us are trying to say and communicate the importance of is the impression, you know? Something I've always admired about Carpet Tech, for example, you know, a local company that has carpet cleaning and restoration is that their technicians dress very specifically. They are in black boots, they're in black Wranglers. They have their shirts tucked in. They're wearing black hats.

Jeremy Hamilton: They're clean and they're pressed. They're the presentation. And it can be with a golf shirt. It can be with a sport coat. It can be with a suit, but just your impression — you only get one chance a lot of times. And so your first impressions are key and, you know, it makes a difference in how you're going to be perceived.

Kade Wilcox: Man, I love this stuff. I could talk about it all day, because, you know, if you're an HVAC guy and you show up and your truck's beaten up and you know, your t-shirt’s halfway tucked in, and you know, you haven't got a new work shirt in six years, and so the one you have is stained, and, you know, your hair is a mess — and, you know, that's my first impression of your business. You may be the best HVAC person in the world. You may offer a wonderful service, but it's hard to take you seriously if you don't take yourself seriously. So it matters. And the thing I love about this conversation...oh, go ahead.

Your Presentation Impacts Your Performance

Jeremy Hamilton: No, I just, I think it impacts your work, too. I mean, if it's just — if good enough is just good enough from first impression, then it's going to be good enough for the duration of the relationship with the work. And so I just think there's a correlation there, you know? You hear athletes talk about, you know, look good, feel good, feel good, play good, all that kind of stuff. Like that's true, you know? And the better you feel and the more serious you take yourself, the more serious you'll take your business.

Kade Wilcox: Yeah, I agree. Yeah. And it really is the small things. I mean, someone could be listening to this and maybe their challenge would be,ell, this is really overthinking it, this is really over the top.” And I would argue that there are a bunch of small things in life, and that the more of the small things that you do, the more successful you are, the more you position yourself to be successful. And I would say that this is one of those small things that when done well, again, regardless of what industry you're in, is a big deal. So that's fun. It's fun to think about. And it makes me want to come to H.G. Thrash and buy that coat you're wearing right now. I love that thing. That looks — it looks good.

Talk a little bit about your journey of growing up in H.G. Thrash. You mentioned that you moved in there, you know, in I think you said 2009. And so what does that journey look like from kind of the beginning stages to now where at one point you, you were probably just the low man on the totem pole, you know? Just, you know, working for Howard and now, you know, given my relationship with you, I know that you really help run and lead the store in a unique way. So what's that journey been like for you?

Going From Corporate to Family-Owned

Jeremy Hamilton: I give Howard a hard time. He interviewed me three or four or five times and, you know, in my tenure there, and I'm probably the only one who's ever done that, too. So I gave him a hard time. But yeah, I started — so I did three years at Dillard's, which was great. It was great to learn some skills and to cut my teeth a little bit. And just got tired of the big corporate aspect of that side of retail and wanted to do something a little smaller and a little more family-owned. So never been in the store, go in, and applied. And I was still a college student at this time. So, you know, it's hard to get your foot in the door as a salesperson, even though that's really what I wanted to do.

And so I started off as a part-time sales person working 30, 40 hours a week in college. And just as you said, I was the low man on the totem pole and just, you know, would hardly — you know, people would come in there and would hardly let me wait on them. But because I didn't know who I was, they didn't trust me. And Howard had built those relationships and that's what we're in, we're in the relationship business. And so, you know, I'm very competitive and that really, really kind of got those competitive juices starting to fly. So I would get angry. Sometimes I would get frustrated. I would get mad that I couldn't sell anything. Just because I hadn't been there long enough; I hadn't earned my first. I hadn't gained that trust. And so after, you know, it took a little over a year, maybe closer two years before I really started gaining some traction.

And then it's more since then. So I graduated college and was offered a position to stay on full-time. And just with the idea of more salesperson, not really as a management person and just really took the ball and ran with it. And it's — we work really well together. Howard and I have a great relationship. It's been fun to learn the business side of it. And to kind of know what's going on behind the scenes, as well as being on the sales floor and getting to do what I enjoy. And that's part of being a part of people's lives.

Kade Wilcox: That's really cool. You mentioned sales and then you said you were in the relationship business. So something I'd love for you to elaborate on is like, how, how do you view sales? Because that, again, this is a small business podcast, and I think it's really relevant to our audience because the vast majority of people I've interacted with who own their own business, don't really enjoy sales. You know, they want to do other things. And so maybe elaborate on your approach to sales and what you do while you're in the relationship business.

“We’re all in sales everyday.”

Jeremy Hamilton: Sure. You know, whether we want to admit it or not, we're all in sales everyday; we're in sales, you know? And so the fun part for me is watching the relationship develop and getting to really be impactful in people's lives. I get to be a part of people's weddings. I get to be part of people's big celebrations, big monumental things of their lives that they need to get outfitted for. And I get to be a part of that. And in the middle of that, I get to be friends with some really great people. But at the end of the day, you know, it goes — we don't get to do that without the sales part of it. And so we are a sales organization, but we get to focus on the relationships too.

So, yeah, I mean, I love it. I love getting to, you know, going back to talking about New York, like going from — to market a year before something, you know, a season in advance and going and picking it out and seeing it come to fruition — getting on the sales floor and then showing it to people, what I picked on the sales floor, and getting it in on people's backs. And so it's really cool to see it come to fruition. And yeah, it's — I enjoy the friendship relationship part of it just as much.

Kade Wilcox: That's cool. What would you say is the most challenging thing about helping run a business? What, would you say is the most challenging thing that you've experienced or that you routinely experience?

Two Visions. One Business.

Jeremy Hamilton: Wow. that's a great question. What's the most challenging, you know, it's for the most part, Howard and I think a lot alike, and so we can run things by each other and we're sounding boards, but there's a lot of times that you have to know when the time is right to speak up. And when it's time to sit back and let the CEO, let the president make the final decisions. And so, you know, the buying part of that can be a challenge. Sometimes I'm going to push in one direction, you know, he's got a vision just like I do for what we're doing for the store. And his vision may be separate from mine. And so it's just kind of knowing the give and take of when to push and when not to push, and when to trust that, you know, he knows where we're going. So it's yeah, it's the competitiveness of, you know - I'm stubborn, just like a lot of people are, and I want my opinion heard. And I think that my opinion's the right one, and a lot of times it's — you gotta sit back and be mentored, and learned, and humbled, and just let him take the wheels because at the end of the day, it's his company.

Kade Wilcox: That's cool. Thanks for sharing that. What's one of your favorite things about, you know, working alongside Howard and growing this company together? Like, what are some of the things that you really enjoy about the journey or the process?

Jeremy Hamilton: Yeah, we're a family. I mean, it just, we really are. He was in my wedding. I mean, it's just — we're a family and he's really taken me under his wing and mentored, challenged, and it's such a great relationship. I love what I do. I love going to work. I love, you know — I've talked about it — being a part of people's lives. I love the challenges that come along with it, of trying new things and bringing in new products and just growing. And it's, you know, we have our challenges and our issues and struggles just like every company does, but, you know, we're headed in the right direction. And so it's fun to do that together with somebody that's like-minded and that you think of as family. Hmm.

Kade Wilcox: Yeah, that's really good. I feel like every business in the 21st century is a service business. It doesn't matter if you're Amazon or doesn't matter if you're a product company, doesn't matter. If you're a service-oriented company like service — right? — the experience that the customer has with you is really important. And I feel like as a customer of yours, that you're really good at service. And so I would love to hear what, just philosophically, you know, your approach to service is. Maybe what you've learned about service, maybe some times where it didn't go so good, and what you learned from that. Maybe some things that you kind of go back to time and time again, as you know, you are a service business. And so maybe share a little bit about your thoughts and what you've learned on service and it's importance.

A Service Business is a Relationship Business

Jeremy Hamilton: Yeah, for sure. You know, this is what keeps us alive. It really is at the end of the day. And what sets us apart from online and, you know, the other companies that are competing against us and, you know, it's — I was having a conversation with a guy yesterday. It's the only way we're going to survive going forward is being outstanding at our service, being responsive. Just outworking everybody else, you know, and just answering the phone, getting in front of people, not shying away from that part of it. And, you know, we have our, you know, we're humans. And so, you know, it's — we make mistakes all the time, but if we do what we're supposed to do, if we are on our phone, if we're calling people, if we're going above and beyond to make the experience better, you know, the business will take care of itself.

But in today's times, people are shying away from the phone. People are shying away from communicating and it's what we have to do to stay alive. You know, we've just taken on a new venture of a mobile vehicle where we can use it for deliveries, where we can go to other markets around us within, you know, several hundred miles and we can take the product to them. You know, it's kind of a way to make it more convenient for shopping. You know, we're thinking outside the box and doing things that you know, in today's world where it's so easy just to click a mouse and get something delivered to you. How do we combat that? And so, you know, we're just thinking of ways we can do business differently. But if we out-service people, companies, whoever, if we do what we know we're good at doing, and we do it very well, the business will take care of itself.

Kade Wilcox: That's really good. I love some of those things you talked about in terms of accessibility, promptness, you know, owning mistakes, working hard. You talked about the mobile unit y'all just started, you know, being innovative — never thought of those things as kind of a total package of what service could mean, right? Service isn't just like one thing, but it's multiple things that like, you know, that really define what your service is. So that's really interesting. I appreciate it.

Where the Sale Begins

Jeremy Hamilton: Yeah, it doesn't just stop at the cash register. And I think a lot of times for a lot of companies, that's it, you know, it stops at the register. And you've got to — that's when the work starts to me, you know? When you buy something that needs to go to the tailor shop and you get it tailored faster than what you've promised and you call them and you deliver it, or you just — that's when the work starts and it can't just stop at the register.

Kade Wilcox: That's really good. What's your approach to planning? Do you — you've mentioned, you know, people don't want to make a phone call anymore. Oftentimes they don't want to come into the store, you know? Amazon's made one-click buying pretty simple. So when you think of the future, you know, how, how do you guys plan and how do you be who you are? I mean, it's interesting that your business, because it — personally, what I like about H.G. Thrash is the romanticism of it. Like, it hasn't changed. It isn't changing. And yet you live in a society that is changing very fast. So how do you hold on to that kind of ethos that makes you who you are while strategically planning and being innovative and moving into the future? Like, what does that look like for you guys?

Jeremy Hamilton: I just, man, I think you just have to have a vision of where you're going and you have to lead your customers. You know, in a world where everything's getting more casual and a world where it's getting easier and there's less formality, you know, how do you lead your customers? And the truth of the matter is guys are looking for, and girls, you know, people are looking to be led and they're looking for a vision. And so, you know, we — guys love what we do. A lot of them don't like the process of doing it. So how do we make it easier? How do we garner people's attention and get them to come into the store. And so I think you just have to be true to your vision and trust that the direction you're headed is in the right direction.

And having a product mix that, you know, maybe people aren't expecting. But know it's headed in the right direction. So it's just, you gotta be true to yourself and lead by example. And, you know, it's — we're always going to be a store that wears coats and ties. We always are. However, the sportsware part of our store is growing, and we'd be naive to admit that people aren't wearing as many coats and ties. But, you know, how do you combat that? Well, we sell great products that can go casual, can go dress. You know, it's just evolving and adapting to the times, but staying true to who you are.

Kade Wilcox: That's cool. Yeah, that's really good. My last question is for you. You know, you have a lot of customers who are business owners, again, that's our audience here. And so what are one or two things maybe you've learned from over the last 10 years of serving business owners? You know, what are some things you've noticed or observed about them that really kind of stick out to you?

The Common Business Owner Thread

Jeremy Hamilton: Yeah, that's a great question. You know, it goes back to the impressions that we talked about at the very beginning. You know, you don't — you have a short opportunity to make an impression with somebody. And so taking advantage of that, being persistent, being present, and catering to their needs. And a lot of times it's listening. I think for a lot of driven people and focus people and business owners, it's — they have a direction. They have that mission. They have their direction that they're headed. And maybe they're not as quick to listen. And so I think it's, you know, it's being able to listen to somebody else and challenge them to think a little differently. But, you know, I think we live in a great part of the world that guys are here to support you and walk along with you and they want you to succeed, and that's rare. That's rare. But the community that we live in, they genuinely care about our success.

And so it's cool to walk alongside leaders of our — city leaders of our community in West Texas, and just impact people's lives. But to do that in a way that is with humility and being able to listen to somebody else's point of view.

Kade Wilcox: Yeah. That's really good. Well, man, thanks so much. This is really good. I was really excited about this just because it comes from a different perspective, you know, given yours and Howard's partnership. So thank you so much for, you know, the insights that you've shared and for joining the podcast.

Jeremy Hamilton: Gosh, thanks for having me. I enjoyed it and, you know, it's just — you know, thanks for liking what we do and for your friendship.

Kade Wilcox: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, man.

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