Episode 34 - Mark McGarry: Standing Out In The Footwear Industry In a Crowded Space

I’m sitting in on the first day of my ‘Marketing Project’ course at Bentley University when I learn that my class will be working alongside ‘York Athletics Manufacturing’ as we mock their launch for the coming spring. Fast forward down the line… this was without a doubt been one of the best courses I had taken at college and when I met Mark McGary, co-founder and ceo of the company.

Mark has one of the more interesting journeys on the podcast so far with this one being episode 34. After finishing up at the University of Vermont, he packed a van with his buddies and headed west to Oregon where he spent quite some time bouncing around from Vans, Nike, Norton Motorcycles and then eventually landed himself a gig with Puma that brought him back East. That’s also where he met his wife, Elizabeth, who he launched his first venture with ‘McGary & Sons’ after leaving Puma (wanting a better balance in his life.) Now he is loving every second building York and strategizing what's next on the list to do.

What you’ll learn along his journey is that he’s always kept in mind what his passions and interests were and if something did stick out to him, he’d get up and leave. He credits one of the best lessons he learned from studying at University of Vermont is being introduced to entrepreneurs and hearing their stories. It showed him there were unconventional ways to make a living and he’s made sure of it for himself along the way.

Episode takeaway: The importance of taking a leap of faith when an idea pops into your head. No matter how big or small… if you’re contemplating whether or not giving it a go here is your answer: GO FOR IT! Take the leap and fall on your face a million times if you have to. Have a vision where you want to go and adjust along the way. I’d rather live the rest of my life knowing I gave something a try than to look back 10 years from now and wonder what something “could’ve been.”

Podcast Outline

  • Who is Mark McGarry today?

  • Grew up in Andover, MA

    • Always had love & support from his family

    • Played basketball, baseball, soccer

  • Got into skateboarding and snowboarding which allowed him to step away from ‘the real world’

    • Being connected to a community that was bigger than himself

    • Everyone stuck together and knew each other

  • Father had a stroke when Mark was six years old

    • Watching his mother step up to the plate showed him hard work

    • Both his parents were humble and it is something he has always kept with him

      • Trying to push that onto his two sons as they’re growing up

  • Went to University of Vermont

    • Was spending 3-4 days of the week at Stowe snowboarding

    • Taking an entrepreneurship course that brought in people to tell their story was inspiring for him and opened his eyes to unconventional ways to be successful (instead of corporate route)

  • Finished college and had a year to kill before moving somewhere with his friends

    • Moved to Boston and started as a marketing entry level position at a publishing company and lasted four weeks

    • Quickly realized he didn’t want to just get a job, wasn’t enough for him. Quit the job and moved to NH.

  • Moved into Blue Lodge, an abandoned Ski Lodge in New Hampshire

    • Turned into a skateboard/snowboard meca. At one point 24 people were living at the lodge

    • Pulled him back onto this path of following his passion

  • After friends finished school they moved out to Oregon to work for Van’s Snowboard/Skateboard camp (seasonal job)

    • Buddy got job as head counselor and hired the crew

    • Packed up a van and drove out west

  • Nike was launching their second attempt at the skateboard industry

    • Mark was hired as an entry level marketing position (Downtown Portland)

    • First gig working in the shoe business, started meeting skaters he admired (Brian Anderson, Stefan Janoski)

    • Traveled to trade shoes / started shooting ad campaigns

    • Good reminder that there are ways of getting by and following your passion

  • Was hired by Norton Motorcycles to help with relaunch of brand in the U.S.

    • Had the freedom as a contractor to make his own schedule

    • Showed him how valuable it was to be in control and make your own schedule

  • Opportunity at Puma opened up which he had a personal connection with after enjoying the shoes skating

    • Had just started dating Elizabeth, his now wife and had to move back East to Boston

  • Launched McGarry & Sons in 2013

    • Loved his job at Puma but the travel was catching up to him and he just had his second son

    • Taking this leap of faith put pressure on both of them to put all their energy into this

    • Reevaluates where he puts his time and attention to see what makes sense. Understanding his values and makes daily schedules

    • Only works with clients that have true vision + plans for the long haul and isn’t just a one stop shop = Key to success

  • York Athletics Manf

    • Was having lunch with his friend Travis York. Had an idea to build the brand based on their family sporting good store

    • Half way through mapping out the vision, possible opportunities etc they selected Mark as the CEO

    • Kept logo and branding minimal + simplistic. Wanted to put out a credible product that people felt good wearing

    • The “fighting spirit” message is universal and not just for the boxing world. Pushes both mental & physical health

    • Taking a step back to realize what they want this brand to represent. Once consumers understood this, things started to move in the right direction.

    • Has best of the best working on the shoes to make sure putting are getting what they pay for

    • The goal is to motivate and help people live happier lives with intent and purpose. Just going after it.

  • What makes a successful person successful

    • Being true to who you are

    • Putting in the energy and discipline to figuring that out

    • Having balance + fulfillment in your life

      • Its not created externally (this job, moving here, or making $$)

  • 1 Question for Bobbbaaaay: Where are you from?

  • Picture frame on the wall 10 years from now, what/who do we see?

    • Family guy, running his own company, surfing more and enjoying life

  • Find York on Social Media

  • What 2/3 pieces of advice would you give to someone trying to find their purpose/passion

    • Carving out time trying to figure it out

    • Don’t get lost in the the daily tasks and invest time into your mental and physical health

    • Jump in head firsts with whatever makes sense