Britt & Brandon, Co-Founders
Three Sure Fire Secrets to Successfully Co-Lead an Organization
It is unusual to have dual CEO’s in an organization, but Britt Martin & Brandon Kay believe the company is better because they lead together. The pair has co-led the BIS organization for over 13 years.
By choice, they share office space. “We have shared an office for almost 20 years between multiple companies. For a short period of time, we tried working in separate offices but found we were in each other’s offices all the time anyway,” Britt quips. They believe that sharing space – and sharing leadership responsibility – are intentional choices to lead a successful organization.
What makes this unique partnership so successful? To start, it’s based on a foundation of excellence. They know each other’s strengths, and play into them. Underneath everything are strong relationships that extend to vendors, employees, and clients alike.
Lead with Excellence.
Britt and Brandon have built a culture at BIS around working hard and having fun. It’s not uncommon to witness them at conferences dressed as Vikings or driving a DeLorean. They make jokes and pull pranks on each other almost hourly. They choose to surround themselves with customer service-oriented employees who are excellent at what they do, and always have a sense of humor.
Humor and fun is what you see on the outside. Internally, they believe in leading with excellence. “We are allowed to do that because we work hard. The hard work comes first, so we can layer fun on top”, Brandon explains.
Being excellent starts with giving clients what they need. “We don’t sell things to customers that they don’t need or won’t use. We’re not out to sell people a bill of goods, we’re here to provide them a long-term solution. Our people always want to do the right thing for our customers,” Brandon says.
A competitor called Britt recently and asked why BIS continues to get more customers. He laughs, “I told them there is no secret: it’s customer service.”
Excellence doesn’t just mean having great customer service; it also means working hard to do the job right. Growing up, Britt and Brandon watched their fathers work hard in their respective industries: plumbing and carpentry. The Martin household mantra was, “Don’t do it unless you do it one hundred percent.” Britt’s father taught him to always be honest and never cut corners: literally or figuratively. Exhibiting excellence in your work was ingrained in him at a young age.
Brandon’s father was a carpenter who taught him to strive to be the best. In high school, Brandon worked at Taco Bell. He laughs when remembering that his goal was to make the best tacos. That work ethic and dedication to excellence learned in their formative years continues today.
Know Your Strengths.
Britt and Brandon recognize each other’s strengths and shore up each others’ weaknesses. Britt reflects, “We bounce ideas off each other. We feed off of each other. I know the areas where he is strong and vice versa. At the end of the day, we talk through everything.”
They overlap in some areas and diverge in others. “We are both extroverts. We both love people”, Britt says. He likes to sketch, ideate, and be creative and remembers everything. Brandon laughs, admitting he forgets little things, and leans on Britt’s uncanny memory.
They partner well, and when different opinions arise, they compromise. They hand off projects cleanly to create seamless transitions. Britt and Brandon leave their egos at the door and respect each other enough to not get prideful. Britt remarks, “We don’t focus on ourselves; we focus on our customers. It always turns out great.”
Brandon believes that having one person in charge can be the crux of any business. Britt recalls a time where he and his wife were snorkeling in the Bahamas. After his wife was viciously attacked by a bull shark, Britt was out of the office for 45 days during his wife’s recovery. Britt didn’t check in on the business, and didn’t worry, while Brandon stayed at the helm of the organization. Any other company would likely have gone under without a leader, but having co-leaders at this time was a lifesaver.
Focus on Relationships.
The pair maintains focus on having positive relationships with vendors, employees and clients.
Brandon says, “We like to do business with vendors who are happy and are a joy to work with.” They admit to not being too serious, and choosing to work with people who are positive and fun to be around.
When you call the BIS office, a real person will pick up the phone. Customers can text Britt & Brandon with a need or a question and get an immediate response. These personal touch points exemplify the importance of human relationships at BIS.