Shipper POV: Rethinking the Furniture Supply Chain with Fernish
Episode Transcript
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While at Manifest: The Future of Logistics we were able to score some rad interviews and one of them we are bringing you today with a focus on the shipper point of view.

Fernish lets you rent, rent-to-own and buy single pieces of furniture and decor to full-room designs in bite-sized monthly payments for however long you’d like and in this episode we’re chatting with the company’s President and COO, Kristin Toth.

In this convo, we’re covering:

  • How the furniture company has been able to bypass all of the supply chain issues we’ve been seeing these past months — specifically with furniture
  • Fernish’s business model and the circular economy
  • Its b2b services for office buildings, apartment complexes and other sorts of commercial real estate



00:03:15 Happy accidents lead to success.
00:06:26 Furniture rental made easy.
00:11:33 Experiment and iterate.
00:22:24 Reduce furniture waste.
00:22:34 Sustainability, convenience, value.
00:33:50 Raise service bar to disrupt.
00:37:00 Grow, learn, and innovate.



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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

Welcome into another episode of everything is logistics a podcast for the thinkers in freight. I am your host Blythe Brumleve. And today we are joined with Kristin from furnish, and you are the president and CEO. Oh, and we're gonna be talking about the furniture supply chain. So Kristen, welcome in.

Kristin Toth: 0:21

Thanks so much for having me here. Absolutely.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:23

What do you think of your first app manifest?

Kristin Toth: 0:25

I mean, it's a lot. But it's actually really exciting. I've definitely never been to a conference. It's quite this exciting. It's quite many different people and different things that people are talking about. So it's been a lot of fun. What conferences do you typically go to? I mean, we do a lot of things that take us to where our customers are. So it's a lot of real estate, a lot of corporate housing, relocation, that sort of thing. And I have been to other kinds of operations and supply chain conferences, but nothing quite like this. Yeah,

Blythe Brumleve: 0:58

it really is incredible to see the growth. I think it was about 1000 people, maybe 1200. At last year's conference this year, 4000 registrations. And next year, they were at the Caesars forum for those who are just listening. But they have this is technically only half of the space that they've rented out. And they have the full space next year. Wow. Which is going to be even more incredible. not sound like a shill for manifest. But I do.

Kristin Toth: 1:21

I'm totally wearing sneakers next year if I can. Yes, yeah. Well, no, no word yet shoes. I brought heels with little ones. And then I was like, What am I thinking? It's just not gonna happen.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:32

Yeah, I was. I feel you on that. I think during COVID I said no to heels. Yeah, it's just wedges and sneakers. Flip Flops being from Florida.

Kristin Toth: 1:41

It's so funny. And I'm sure that this is not what you're talking with a lot of the supply chain people that you're talking to, you

Blythe Brumleve: 1:48

know, I'm not. I mean, we're having Rosie, Rosie all day booth. And it's a good it's after five o'clock. So it's five o'clock in Vegas, right? Not that we're late. We're late. Alright, so let's get to your career. Your introduction to supply chain and logistics you've got I think you call it a happy accident that you landed in supply chain offs. Can you expand on your career background and how you how this happy accident happened?

Kristin Toth: 2:17

Yeah, for sure. So I had no idea what I wanted to do, as I think most 1718 year olds don't. And I really, you know, I was like, I liked this creativity part, I was sort of a musician. I like writing things. I also liked maths. And so I figured it was probably easier to apply to engineering schools and transfer out than like the other way around. And when I went to school, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, where the University of Michigan was starting up this operations based program that was taking business, foreign language and culture and engineering and putting it all together saying like, if we're going to build really great leaders for operations, they need to understand the business and where they're fitting in, they need to have the technical skills to create the like capabilities that you're looking for. And you need to be kind of a citizen of the world. And I sort of felt like, I don't know if I want to do operations. But I really liked that I get to study all those things. So I kind of went down that path. And the more and more I went down that path and kind of figured out what it meant was like building processes and helping build products and help build services that are meaningful to customers that can deliver for your business, I just really sort of fell in love with it. And operations has been my pivot point in my career. Since that time, I kind of went to Dell back in the early ecommerce days where we were making things to order and really orienting the supply chain and manufacturing chain like to what does the customer want, and using the internet to sort of figure that out. And then I went back to grad school and then went out to Amazon for eight years where it started in transportation. I built out our same day logistics. Really? Yeah, yeah, same day delivery back in 2000. Why oh, and then I went on the retail side to really learn about like marketing and putting together customer offers and being able to deliver on that. So I kind of got the other side of the business and then I've just been building like at startup since then. Because I just love building things that matter to people and it really does take in most cases operational mindset like idea of where things are coming from where they're going to what really matters and how do you optimize all of that

Blythe Brumleve: 4:29

and so you're you're one of the rare ones that went to school and took supply chain classes and actually stayed in industry I think the rest of us just kind of just it's a happy accident that we ended up in it.

Kristin Toth: 4:40

Yeah, I was just starting at the right place the right time. And I know I've definitely been in and out sort of pivoted around it but I think that that mindset is something that I mean gosh, even I'll stand in line at Starbucks like this could be done so much differently and so much better. So it's kind of an infection.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:56

So with your with your role now at furnish us to actually start at all hard time with a company before you joined full time, can you tell us a little bit about how that relationship evolved for

Kristin Toth: 5:06

you? Yeah, absolutely. So I was actually an investor in an advisor, Oh, wow. When Michael and Lucas who were starting the company had the idea, I knew Lucas from Amazon, and he had worked for me there. And he was like, you really need to meet Michael, we want to tell you about this thing we're thinking about, and I just loved it, I thought it needed to exist. And then I was like, What can I do to help. And I put a little bit of money in there friends and family, like pre revenue round to get them started. And then I was just an advisor for a couple of years. And when I was sort of thinking about what's my next role, I was thinking, Oh, I'm gonna go to a bigger company. And, you know, startups are hard, blah, blah, blah. And every time I would go and talk to another company furnish was in the back of my head. And, you know, Michael was just like, when are we gonna get you to come? When are we going to get you to come and it, it all really worked out. And I mean, there's so many things that are fun about our business, but our team is incredible. They're like, people that you want to work with both professionally and personally. And I'm just so excited to be there. I can't believe I've been there for three and a half years. I mean, on one hand, it feels like 25 years, the last three and a half years have been a lot. But also, it's also just been like, really, kind of fast growth and, and all kinds of things that that have happened. So it's like, I can't believe it's already been three and a half years.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:24

So let's, let's talk about furniture, what what do what is the big problem that your company is solving? Yeah. So

Kristin Toth: 6:29

anybody who has ever bought furniture or put it together, had to move it or you know, has their life change around it understands that it can be kind of a pain point, right. And so our mission is to make it effortless to create your home. And home is not just that space, it's not just the things that are in your space, is how you feel right. And something can feel like a house or your space without feeling like home, because something doesn't fit. But in the old way of doing things, you'd have to go put a lot of money into furniture, and you'd have to wait for it to be delivered, and then put it together and move it around. And, you know, when it doesn't really fit, there's a lot of times where you feel kind of caught with that furniture, like, oh, I put so much money into it, I, I really shouldn't get rid of it. Or I'll just have to make it make do. Or if you do move, right, there's so much hassle and moving because of these big and bulky items. And so our goal is just to make it super effortless for that home to always be with you. And that can evolve, right? Like where you live, whom you live with how you're using your space, all of that can evolve, but it can still be your home, if your furnishings can sort of evolve with you. So Michael had the idea when he was living in New York, and he was, you know, banker on Wall Street. And he was moving around all you know, every eight to 12 months. And he had all different roommates, different apartments. Everybody had different things. And they were constantly playing this, like furniture, Tetris of like, well, what's gonna go in here and it never really felt like a home. He's like I'm renting this place, why can I have the right furniture for just this amount of time that I need it. And that's really how it sort of got started as an idea. And you know, fast forward years later, when he was trying to convince his now wife to move across the country, like they kept coming back to how much it hurt to have to move a sofa. And let's get rid of this for everybody, right? Like, let's just make this so much easier. And that's where we kind of came from. And so what we do is Furniture Rental at our core, but we offer rent, rent to own and purchase. And it can be four months, it can be 12 months can be 24 months, kind of whatever you need, and all the months in between there. And you can swap things out, even add things send things back, if you're moving in our markets, we can make that stuff show up at your new apartment, whether you're moving across town or across the country. So just really trying to make that like effortless, convenient, flexible thing out there without any like math problems, right? Because a lot of people think, Oh, well rental that must just be inefficient, I must have to pay more. And really, it's like if you fall in love with stuff, you pay the same thing over 24 months that you would pay right out of the gate. And if you want it for 24 months, great if you fall in love with it great. You want to keep it forever great if you don't only pay a portion of that.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:21

So it's like a non committal model to figure out if it's gonna work in this space and it might not work in another space, but it works for this one right now. Exactly. This episode is brought to you by SPI logistics the premier freight agent and logistics network in North America. Are you currently building your freight brokerages broker business and feel that your capabilities are being limited due to lack of support and access to adequate technology? At SPI logistics we have the technology, the systems and the back office support to help you succeed. If you're looking to take control of your financial future and build your own business with the backing Have one of the most successful logistics firms in North America. Visit SPI three to learn more. And so you mentioned earlier about, you know, you really fell in love with with process mapping and things like that. But it also sounds like there's so many variables in the furniture market. So how do you make a process for so many variables?

Kristin Toth: 10:20

Oh, that's the fun part. I do think that there's a lot of opportunity to be able to create processes around variation, right? So that's, and that's where technology can really come in is understanding like, at a high level, we're going to have these things happen. But they could happen in different ways. How do we let how do we put technology into the right places that can recognize when things are changing, and tell us to do something. So we don't have to look at every step along the way. You can create feedback loops, we can create alarms. But you just think about all of the ways that you're like, what are the things that are very repeatable? What are the things that are not? And what do we need to know about those so that we can do the right thing. And technology can be such a big enabler for that. I

Blythe Brumleve: 11:08

love a good process. So what is your key? But to developing a good because I find it so time consuming. But it's also such a relief when it's done? Is that Is that safe to assume that that's always going to be the case? 100% 100%?

Kristin Toth: 11:22

Well, I think the other thing is like, for me, I don't feel like it's ever done. Because you always learn something else, right? You have to kind of like experiment with it. I mean, I think the key is probably that, number one, take a step back, understand what it is that you're really trying to accomplish, and make sure that you're not sort of incrementally moving from what you're used to, so that you're not building in things that like aren't important. So start with like, what am I really trying to accomplish? And what's important about that? And then what are the things that need to happen along the way, and if you can sort of think of the people that are involved, and the keys to pulling those different pieces to your goal together, that gives you a really good first iteration of it, and then go try it out and go get a lot of like, experience with it. So you can say, well, we missed this. We didn't think about that. But how do we want to kind of go back and incorporate that? Or do we just want to say we're not going to try to put that went into this process? So I think that that like, really taking a big picture look is super important. And and then iterating knowing that you're going to iterate you don't have to get it perfect the first time.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:25

Yeah, that's my I think my biggest problem with process mapping is that I want to have it all figured out before I even started. And then halfway through trying it, it's like, oh, well, yeah, that didn't work. I don't know why I stressed myself out for two days trying to figure out, you know, inevitable of what's going to happen when I don't know what's going to happen.

Kristin Toth: 12:42

Exactly. And that I think can be such a trap, especially for people who are engineers, right? They think, oh, well, this is a problem that I'm going to solve. And I'm going to get to the bottom and I'm going to put like a circle around the answer. And I'm either going to be right or wrong. And it's like, you're not going to get it right the first time. So just get something out there. That's really thoughtful, but you know, quick, so you can get that feedback. So you can get that experimentation with that. 100%.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:04

I heard that. You know, I think it was a you had a former conversation that said our previous conversation that said, you know, furniture is really about making your home and emotional feeling of comfort and making that effortless. Can you expand on

Kristin Toth: 13:17

that theory? Yeah, I mean, I think we've all spent a lot more time at home over the last couple of years. And so I think that this resonates with people a lot. The things in your home are just a part of what your home is. And so I think the first thing is, Furniture Rental is not new, it's existed for decades. But it's uninspiring it's furniture that's like very utilitarian that can get you through the day, that gives you a place to sleep and gives you a place to sit. But you don't feel inspired. You don't feel happy necessarily with that furniture in general, because it hasn't been thought of as creating a home. It's been sort of like utilitarian space fillers,

Blythe Brumleve: 14:00

almost like mass over consumption, like mass produced totally, that kind of clogs, a lot of especially early 20s You know, 30s people who might not be able to afford the good furniture yet or don't know what good furniture is. Right? Right.

Kristin Toth: 14:11

And so I think Furniture Rental has kind of been there but just not been an inspiring product and not an inspiring service and it's tough, lots of fees, lots of hassle. And so taking that idea of like your home should be filled with stuff that you love that is serving you for what you're doing in your home now, which might change tomorrow. March 2020 taught us anything and and then you know should evolve with you over time and and making it really effortless. Don't put a lot of fees out there. Don't put a lot of extra hassle or hoops to jump through like be very straightforward about you know, what your options are. Allow people to make decisions that sit with them today and preserve that sort of optionality in the future. And just really make it easy. And I think the other thing that kind of goes without saying, though, is when you get into a complicated business kind of gets forgotten is like, just really make it human and make it a pleasant pleasurable experience interact with any of the people that are involved. So

Blythe Brumleve: 15:19

so how does the process work of of furnished? Am I, as a user Am I going on? And I'm looking at a catalogue and picking and then it just gets delivered? And then I can say, Oh, I don't want this. Yeah, after a month? Or how does the process work?

Kristin Toth: 15:32

Totally. So we have a website. And you shop on it, just like you would any furniture website. But the kind of nuances when you put something into your cart, it's not just, you know, what do you want? And how many of that do you want? But also, how long do you think you want it, because it's slightly different pricing, if you have it for four months versus 12 months. So you can put that in there. Let's just say, you know, you want it for four months, you check out, most people have five to eight items in their cart, you check out and essentially, you pick your delivery date, we bring it to you, the first the first optionality you have is within three days, if anything's not really working for you, we'll swap it out for free, just tell us within three days, we'll we'll remove the like fear of it won't fit. It's not comfortable, whatever. So that's the first thing. The second thing is, let's just say something changes, and you have to move or all of a sudden, you're not going to be able to have that nice home office, you have to make it into a guest room because you're getting a roommate. You can just call us up and say I need to make a swap. And we'll take out that desk and put in that bed. Or let's you're moving, we can help you move your you're moving out of state and we can't help you with that we'll we'll come pick things up. And so we want to make it really, really easy that as your life evolves, you can have that stuff that you need when you need it. And really be flexible about what happens. Your

Blythe Brumleve: 17:02

team is delivering the product and moving it so I one thing I as an adult, I love to pay for movers. So yeah, so I can tell them, that's where I want it. And they can worry about the rest, as is that would furnish just two

Kristin Toth: 17:16

totally. That's amazing. Totally. Yeah. So we have a team that is in the warehouse. And they're not only bringing in like the product that we bring in, which is kind of interesting, too. But they're bringing in the product that we bring in and then sending it out to customers, they put it all they they deliver it, they put it all together, they put it where you want it, they take away all of the packaging, they'll do the swaps, they'll do the move amazing. And then when it comes back in, we pick it up, we bring it in, it gets kind of quarantined to make sure that it's okay, once it's kind of released. Then it's cleaned, and then it's refurbished, and it can go back out. So we have this kind of circle of product that comes in and out of our of our warehouses. And it's all about just Yeah, meeting the customer where they are. And you said warehouses. So you have multiple locations, we do warehouse. Yeah. So because of all of that flexibility and all that service that we provide to customers, it's really hard for us to find number one, the service, or the cost that makes it make sense for us to be like far away and consolidated down into one warehouse. So we actually have presence in all of our markets. Sometimes it's a crosstalk right, we'll have inventory in LA, for instance, and have a crosstalk in San Diego, where we keep the inventory. And then once it's ordered in San Diego, we bring it down there and we do the delivery from there. But yeah, all of our markets today we have a presence in and that's really because a longer delivery cycle just puts more just challenge into it. So we can do the service in an efficient way and in a high quality way. That that we want to provide. So yes, warehouses, they're small furniture warehouses are really small. Most of our inventory is out in a customer's home. We have a little bit there. We're constantly replenishing, based on actual demand. And then yeah, we're close by what about the,

Blythe Brumleve: 19:11

I guess carrier relationships that you have? Do you have your own sort of trucks that you are dispatching yourself? Or do you partner with a three PL? Three PL don't reach out to her brokers? We're just talking. Thank you.

Kristin Toth: 19:27

Yeah, so most of the carrier relationships we have are on our inbound supply chain. And those are relatively new to us because we've been getting much more involved in that. But we have leased and rented our own trucks, we wrap them with our beautiful branding. And we have our own people that are doing the deliveries. And that's not necessarily by design. Our initial thought was we'll be able to find a partner that will be able to do this for us. But I think when we're sort of like thrown into a bigger network, we don't have the consistency And we don't have the service level that we really need to kind of fit at least how we do things today. And the other thing that has been really interesting is that we do things that about a third of the best cost that we've been able to get with partners that we've tried out. So I think that in the future, as we scale we want, we will want to find delivery partners that can be sort of a hybrid model for us where we do some and they do some, we have some phones that like right point in our in our evolution to really need that. Yeah,

Blythe Brumleve: 20:31

yeah, because it's almost like you need that immediacy of folks who need to move, and you can't exactly schedule those in the future. And that's, it could be something that pops up, it could be something that you schedule, so you need that, that sort of variety. Now, now we're here at manifest the future of logistics, in case you can hear a lot of background noise, it's after 5pm here in Vegas, so people are starting to have a little bit of a good time, including us. But earlier in the day, you spoke about you were on a panel that said a tech driven supply chain ecosystem addressing the cultural evolution. And I think it's a you know, it's sort of the perfect discussion for you. Because in interviews, you've said sustainability and circularity are key here, as well as being thoughtful about the buying decisions on both the consumer side and the furnish side of things. Why are these key in the business roadmap of furnish? Yeah,

Kristin Toth: 21:21

well, I think what's really interesting is if you think about sustainable businesses, you start to think trade offs, right? Well, if you want it to be sustainable, then you're gonna have to pay more, or you might have to make lower margins. And I think what's really interesting about furnish is that you kind of have this triple win. Number one, we buy a piece of furniture once, and we use it for years, and we can monetize it many, many times. Now, it does cost us a little more than just shipping it out one time and never seeing it again. But those costs, those additional costs are so much less than the whole supply chain over and over again and having to buy it over and over again. So yes, that first time, you've got all of the costs, and then you're handling it again. But you're sort of able to keep monetizing that asset over time. So it's kind of a good business, or it has the opportunity to be a good business as you scale it. So that's one thing. The other thing is that 10 million tonnes of furniture goes into us landfills every year, wow. Because people don't have the need for their furniture. And so if we can say, well, this may not be serving you right now, but somebody else wants it. And we can help facilitate finding that we're able to take the same asset and give it multiple lives with customers who love it equally every single time. And so it's really good from a sustainability perspective. And then the last thing is it also if we do this, right, is a great customer experience that's highly flexible, highly convenient, and is a really good value. So they don't have to pay for the entire sofa, if they just need it for six months. It provides us really great customer experience. So the customers and trading off what they want, or what they could get, the environment isn't having to pay for it. And we're still able to build a really good business over time. So I love that this whole, these three things can all come together, because you don't get a lot of opportunities to find things where those all pushed in the same direction. Usually they're fighting each other.

Blythe Brumleve: 23:20

So we've kind of talked about, you know, is it the the person who's moving across the country? For what does what does a typical customer look like for furnish? Yeah,

Kristin Toth: 23:29

I mean, our customers can really do range, they're often young professionals, they're usually 25 to 40, their lives are evolving a little bit more rapidly, then maybe as you sort of settled down, though, who knows what that means anymore. But you know, life is evolving, whom you're living with, where you're living, how you're using your home, where you're working, that might be changing a little bit more. And so this flexibility and convenience is so helpful. They tend to be people who care about style, right? They're not just gonna go and sort of fill the space, they care about style, but they're not so obsessed with I need this one thing, or I want this font for this very unique piece. And so, you know, they tend to have like aspirational style goals without being really, really specific. And a lot of times they are coming to us for the first time when they're moving, or when you know, they're moving in with a partner or breaking up with a partner and all of a sudden their furniture needs change. So

Blythe Brumleve: 24:34

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Kristin Toth: 25:55

Oh, gosh. So many things came to mind. I mean, I think the first thing is buying the right product. And putting the right catalog together is super important. First of all, if we do want to have a stable catalog that we monetize over time, and we have assets that stand up to this circularity, and know that a lot of furniture actually does. So we look for style that's going to last and right that people are going to want for years.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:24

What is that? I'm sorry to stop you really quick. I'm just curious, what is that kind of style?

Kristin Toth: 26:28

Well, we're really focused on kind of the Mid Century Modern inspired style, a lot of modern farmhouse and some more industrial, modern things that kind of comes through that are like, adjacent to that. But this, yeah, the

Blythe Brumleve: 26:44

pretty, like a sturdy piece of

Kristin Toth: 26:47

furniture, like also clean and classic, not in a traditional way. But in that clean, classic still, like light, airy, happy, sort of style. And gosh, this is where I sound way out of my depth. Talk to so many other people on my team, they're really good at describing this. But that sort of classic style that is in silent, not, it's not your grandparents furniture, it's something that you really love, but it's going to stand the test of time, it's not going to be something that you know, you're like, oh, that fuchsia accent chair with the fur on it was really fun when I bought it, but I'm kind of sick of it six months. And this is something that you know, we know, from a style perspective, people are going to want for years to come. The second thing is it has to be durable, right? So what are the materials that is made up? Are they good? Is it going to stand the test of time, even how does it go together? Because we're going to put it together, take it apart, put it together, pick it apart. So it's got to be durable. The other two things that we've really been learning over the last four years are modularity and refurbishment. So modularity just means if I have this one cushion that kind of got overused, I don't want to have to throw away the entire chair, I don't have to throw away the entire sofa if I can modularly replace that cushion, because we have the right supplier relationships. And because it's constructed in a way that allows us to do that, then that's really good for us, right, we can keep that the bigger part of that piece of furniture in rotation. And then the last one is refurbishment. So nothing against the table, but it has a veneer on it right. So if we were to like spill ink that we couldn't get off of this or like gouge it with a knife. I don't know why we do that. But if we were to do that, it would be really hard to make this thing look like new again, you'd have to sort of strip off the whole veneer and have a new and it takes the whole thing. But if you had a solid wood table, you could sort of sand it down, restate it, and it would look like a new piece again. So that refurbished ability, like the materials that it's made from how its constructed is another thing. So those four buckets are really like our guiding light when we're trying to figure out what do we put into the catalog? And then we really, like take it down to you know, what are the 500 core furniture skews that we want to offer? Let's not let's offer choice to customers, but let's not overwhelm them. Let's give them the things that fit in an apartment that fit in a home that are very on trend and allow them to shop and have choice but without being overwhelmed or feeling like you know, they have to go out and do a lot of research or feel uncertain. So

Blythe Brumleve: 29:29

you've done all this research with all of the different tried and true, you know, types of furniture pieces that you're going to keep in your catalog. And then you also mentioned refurbishment How do you manage that yourself internally or you maybe outsource it or how does

Kristin Toth: 29:43

that work? We have people in our warehouses whose sole job is around magically making these things look like you again. It's really amazing and and you know, there are people out there that restore furniture and do sort of like repairs and and bring I mean those two things together. It's this very art and science.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:05

So you're not driving around neighborhoods like my mother when I was younger. And there's a piece of furniture on the side of the road, and she says, I can make that look better. And she does. And she's done it several times. So it's kind of like the same ethos.

Kristin Toth: 30:16

Exactly. Yeah, totally. And the people that we have doing this are just, they can be magicians, and we're learning every day. But it's they're just amazing.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:27

And so you mentioned that, you know, parts of it that are I guess, you know, that I don't want to say single use customers, but the customers that are coming to you whenever they need to move and things like that. But you're also evolving more into the b2b side. I won't say more. But that's another segment that you guys are building on a real estate, I believe hotels, can you expand a little bit on your like b2b partnerships? Totally.

Kristin Toth: 30:48

Yeah. And I'm glad you brought that up. So we started very much as a consumer oriented business. And I think that really made us like, hit a really high service bar, and build out our service and our product in a way that, you know, kept us pretty honest. But we have figured out, especially over the last couple of years, that there are other companies out there who are creating homes for people, they're largely in real estate oriented things they own apartments, they manage apartments, they manage corporate housing, they manage relocation, they manage hotels, or Airbnb, like hotel equivalents, and sort of all those things in between. And they tend to be you know, managers and real estate folks. But the stuff, right, like they need to figure out how to get the right stuff in these places as well, in order to like fully offer, what they're, they're trying to give to their residents. So they don't want to build our business on top of all of those businesses. And so over the last couple of years, what we've really realized is like, we have such a good pulse on what customers want and need, because we've been working directly with them that we can bring some of that knowledge to these other partners. And we can handle all of the sourcing and warehousing and installation and refurbishment and all these things that we've been talking about for them so that they can do their real estate and the management and all of that other stuff that is in and of itself enough to do. So that's really been something that's been layering on top of our consumer business really nicely over the last couple of years.

Blythe Brumleve: 32:23

It almost sounds like they're they're dealing with the same problems that the consumer side is dealing with, and that they need these flexible solutions for furniture, and they need stuff that will actually last absolutely right with them. So you mentioned earlier about your panel on you know, sort of sustainability and circularity within the supply chain. I'm curious, have you had any other discussions, maybe during manifests or during the panel itself that were kind of really insightful takeaways for you?

Kristin Toth: 32:48

Well, it's funny, I was actually just before this looking, you know, catching up on a number of things that have been happening today that I've been out of, and somebody had posted a quote, that I said, during the panel was something like, well, customers don't want things slower. And I was like, oh, yeah, I did say that. But it was funny because he was like, but this is the best quote, I've heard so far, this cons conference in which was very flattering. But also there was a discussion about it already. And so I was looking at that. And we did have a conversation about customer expectations. And I think, even separate from furnish, we tried to be like super high touch, super high service. But I think over the last couple of years, somewhat necessitated by crazy supply chain and other pandemic related things, which, you know, we're so tired of talking about, but really did disrupt the last couple of years. There were times where I think companies took the opportunity to maybe sit back a little bit and say, Well, you know, I don't have to maybe like customers are kind of understanding right now, I don't have to get it to them as quickly, I don't have to provide that same level of service, because it is more cost, right. And I think that that is going to be allowed for a certain amount of time. But it provides a big opportunity for companies to do keep pushing themselves to raise the bar to figure out how to be higher service to be faster to meet your customers in a more precise way. In so I don't know, I think they, I think that some companies will probably hang back. And there will be big opportunities for others who want to disrupt and kind of jump ahead. And you know, the great thing about doing these things that are uncomfortable is generally you figure out how to make them a lot more efficient, how to build that process, how to make it scalable, and it's not as painful as you once thought it was. So I think that that has been another discussion that has sort of like been going on on social media since that panel, which I was sort of like oh, I didn't realize I was so controversial there.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:49

But But I mean, you really hit the nail on the head because from that lens, you are tapping into it. It sounds like you almost circumvented supply chain challenges because you Were willing to see the gaps in the weaknesses and take advantage where other companies were sitting idly by. Is that a safe assumption?

Kristin Toth: 35:05

I think that yeah, I think that we were, we had a couple of things working for us. Number one, we never sort of said like, well, this gives us an excuse not to meet our customer service bar, there were times that we couldn't, for sure, right, there's nothing that's going to make product that's stuck at a port get to you faster. But it's really about managing that customer relationship. And just saying, well, just because that happened once doesn't mean that's now our new normal. And so that's one thing. And I think the other thing is, is it does provide, like even separate from us just an opportunity for customers or companies who are trying to address these customers that maybe bigger companies, you have like sort of let the their foot off the gas to go and sort of stand out and to provide these things. And, you know, now, I spend way too much with the supply chain. And I'm like, How could crime is never two days anymore, right? If anybody knows a blockchain, Amazon does, but we've kind of not gone back to most things being delivered to me in two days. And I think that those are just things that customers are starting to recognize. And whether it plays out like in that first transaction or over time, it does create an opportunity for other companies to kind of step up, step in and provide a great customer experience.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:25

I mean, obviously, you all have done that, because you were just named 250 on the 2012 Inc 5000. list. And you were also recently ranked number eight for the 2022 Inc, regionals in the Pacific region. So what are your What are your growth plans for the coming years? As much as we can? He doesn't want more

Kristin Toth: 36:42

growth, right? Yeah, you know, what I think is really great is when you start feeling in a startup like, not that things won't change, not that there's not a ton more to learn. But like, Alright, I think we've figured some things out. And we're at that tipping point right now, where we really have figured a lot of things out. It's just on us to grow. So it's going to be a fun year. We're going to add a lot of business. And hopefully that will help us get to more geographies continue to invest in the technology that helps us scale, and helps us offer more and better things to our customers. And we'll continue to like expand product lines as it makes sense and service and some other things like that. So we just want to grow, grow, grow.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:25

Absolutely. Well, I mean, you guys are doing a good job of it. I mean, obviously you're you're you're here sharing your perspective, and manifests future of logistics. It's been a fun conversation. where can folks find more of your work more of furnish and figure out all the cool stuff you guys do?

Kristin Toth: 37:39

Yeah. Thank you for having me. Where Can folks Follow? Follow you? I

Blythe Brumleve: 37:43

guess LinkedIn, maybe the website or

Kristin Toth: 37:45

Okay, yeah. And I'm just So you have to spell Kristen and furnish right, that you can email me

Blythe Brumleve: 37:51

too. Yeah. Do the due diligence of not You're not if your broker though. Don't do that. Yeah. Well. Thank you. Thank you so much. So nice to meet you. Absolutely. I hope you enjoy this episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. If you liked this episode, do me a favor and sign up for our newsletter. I know what you're probably thinking, oh God, another newsletter. But it's the easiest way to stay updated when new episodes are released. Plus, we drop a lot of gems in that email to help the one person marketing team and folks like yourself who are probably wearing a lot of hats at work in order to help you navigate this digital world a little bit easier. You could find that email signup link along with our socials and past episodes. Over at everything is And until next time, I'm blind and go Jags

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.