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November Employee Spotlight: Matt Friederich
We’ve already heard from most of Red Nova Labs’ veteran employees, like Chris Klein, Katelyn Wyss, Eric Hankins, Tim Banks, and Ashley Burgener, so this month we’ll be shining the spotlight on Matt Friederich. Matt, or as the team calls him, Freddy, has been with Red Nova Labs for over five years. While he's proven his confidence and determination through his role in Business Development and traveling all over the country selling our storEDGE products, he’s best known around the office for being able to effortlessly strike up a conversation with anyone, at any time.
Some people are just born to be salesmen, and Matt is one of them. He’s a big guy with an even bigger personality, and he’s passionate about everything in his life, whether that's selling self storage or repping K-State football. Matt is an excellent source of industry knowledge for everyone at Red Nova Labs, and he knows how to work a room well enough to give any politician a run for his money. When I asked around the office about Matt, everyone wanted to put in their two cents. Here’s what they had to say:
“Freddy, the Mayor of Self Storage. Matt has sold every product we have ever dreamed of. From Buzzmedo to StorageFront. Flawlessly. Without complaint. Not bad for a guy that started in beer sales. Even though Austin and I still have to carry his suitcase and type up his quotes, Matt has one of the best work ethics and memories of anybody I’ve ever worked with and the dude can flat out sell. Always amuses me when you mention some random person in self storage and Matt, like the good Mayor he is, knows their entire life story. Also happy he has found the woman of his dreams, even though their relationship may eat into his 12 hour workdays.” CEO
“Matty Freddy. What a great guy. I don’t even know where to start. I have had the pleasure to work alongside Matt for five years. I have shared so many laughs, memories, countless trips to Vegas, and sales closes over the years. He is a role model and one of the kindest people I have ever met. He has more self storage knowledge than anyone I know. Matt is an excellent salesman and a huge part of the RNL sales team. He is one of my best friends in and out of work.” Business Development
“Matt used to live down the street from me and he would come over in the winter to shovel the snow around my car before work. He's just a genuinely good person (and neighbor).” Marketing Manager
“Matt is the Mayor of Self Storage. He knows everyone; everyone knows him. It is impossible not to like Matt and enjoy being around him. He’s an exceptional employee, salesman, and friend. He’s always trying to help other people and he makes random donations to various charity organizations in return for good sales karma. I (we) wouldn’t be as successful without Matt. Matt provides insight and understanding to the pulse of the industry, which helps guide company-wide decision making. If I could clone Matt Fred, I would.” Director of Sales
“Freddy's nickname around the office is the Mayor. And he couldn't have a better title. Aside from simply being a hard worker and really good at his job, he is the guy out shaking hands and kissing babies. He is the face of RNL at so many trade shows and meetings. He's the guy that when you introduce yourself to someone in this industry as working at storEDGE, they say, "Oh, I know Matt Friederich." We're really lucky to have him on our team.” Director of Product Management
I knew Matt was hardworking, but I didn’t know just how busy his schedule was until I asked to meet with him for an employee spotlight interview. He rescheduled our meeting over and over, and inquired about the questions I was going to ask (to the extent that I was starting to wonder if he was harboring a dark secret). Unfortunately, no shameful, dark secrets were revealed in our interview (except for his secret love of Incubus).
I also really enjoyed the way that Matt self-directed the majority of his employee spotlight interview. I’ve never interviewed anyone who both asked and answered the questions, all at the same time. His approach was the ultimate spin tactic. I’m finally starting to understand his sales strategy. Check it out below!
Jana: Are you really nervous?
Jana: Are you sure? It seems like you've been avoiding my interview. You said you've been avoiding these interviews for five years.
Matt: No, I've just been going a million miles an hour for the last three hours and for the last few days. Super busy.
Jana: Super busy for five years?
Matt: Yes, just can’t slow down.
Jana: Mmhmm, okay. Well, let’s just start with some background. I asked a lot of people where you grew up and where you went to high school and no one could really give me a straight answer. Could you tell me a little bit about your life pre-Red Nova?
Matt: I lived all over. I was born in Ames, Iowa. I'm actually going there tomorrow for the K-State - Iowa State game. I lived in Ames, Iowa until I was 10. My dad is in the cattle industry, and his company merged several times, so we moved from Iowa to southeast New Mexico, lived there for five years, and then we moved to Dodge City a couple weeks before I started high school. That was fun.
Jana: What does your dad do in the cattle industry?
Matt: He works in the cattle feed industry. So in Iowa it was like vitamins and minerals for cattle feed, in New Mexico he was working with dairies. And then in Dodge he was working with big feedlots and stuff.
Jana: Was he in sales there?
Matt: No, he is in Operations and Management there. That kind of thing.
Jana: What does your mom do?
Matt: My mom is an accountant. She works in health care. She's done that almost her whole life. She works for a big healthcare accounting firm called BKD. They sponsor Chiefs Radio and stuff. They're a huge company. When we lived in Dodge, she was head of accounting and working for a company that did hospice care.
Jana: So how old were you when you moved to New Mexico?
Matt: I moved there when I was nine or ten.
Jana: That had to be a little hard.
Matt: Yeah, it sucked at first. I ended up really liking it there, though. It's weird - you're from South Dakota right?
Jana: Yeah, not far from Ames.
Matt: Oh, yeah, so you know how cold it is there. I went from like northern Iowa, where it's cold as hell all the time and then we moved out to New Mexico which is like...the desert. It was like the desert.
Jana: Legit desert. Friggen cacti and scorpions and shit.
Matt: Yeah. No trees. No grass. Everything is brown most of the year. It was a huge change. But the weather is awesome there, the town we moved to was awesome, and the people there were awesome. I still have good friends twenty years later that I still talk to from that town. One of my best friends actually works for Oklahoma University and his fiancé now lives here in Kansas City, so I see him occasionally. Before that I hadn't seen him for like eight or nine years.
Jana: So then you moved to Dodge City, KS for high school.
Matt: Yeah, we moved a few years later and I started high school in Dodge. Dodge City High School is 6A, so it's the biggest class in Kansas. It’s a huge high school and I moved there like right before the school year started. I was sad to leave New Mexico and the school seemed huge. I played sports in New Mexico, and my town there was like a medium size town that was huge on sports and I had all my friends ready to go into high school. I'd already moved once, so it it wasn’t very fun for a while. But in the end it worked out great and I was happy with it. Some of my best friends now are from Dodge.
Jana: So then you went to K-State. Then how did you get to Kansas City?
Matt: Yeah, so I moved from Dodge to Manhattan to go to K-State and then I was there five years. I took a victory lap. While I was in college my parents had moved again. So in 2009, when the economy was crap, I was looking for jobs and I stayed in Manhattan for a summer and actually lived with two girls who were friends of mine. I lived in their extra room and I paid them a hundred bucks a month. And they just didn't care and thought it was great. I was like the trash guy and the dishes guy and the fix it guy. You know all that stuff. But I pretty much spent the whole summer working and just had like a last hoorah of not wanting to leave college. And then I moved back in with my parents in Ozark, MO, which is just south of Springfield. I didn't know anyone there, but I was looking for part time work and I applied at an Anheuser-Busch distributor there. They ended up offering me a full time gig and they were going to pay me pretty well, so I was like, man, I don't know maybe I'll just do this for like a year. I ended up doing it for two years. I really liked a lot of people I worked with, but it was pretty hard work. I got to work by 6 a.m. and got home at like 7 at night. I worked on holidays and all that.
Jana: Were you like loading trucks and coordinating deliveries? Or were you driving trucks for Anheuser-Busch, too?
Matt: I was a high volume sales rep. So I coordinated all the big Walmarts and I had the Branson territory, working with the drivers delivering product. I had a little laptop and I'd punch in deliveries and keep inventories and everything. I was always working in these little coolers and crouched down, and I wore uniform pants and a Budweiser t-shirt every day. And I kind of got that natural I-don't-sit-at-a-desk-and-get-fat look. I was skinny. I was like a hundred and...I don't know, I don't want to say how much I weighed. But I was like thirty pounds lighter than now. So yeah, when I came to RNL, I was like, people do this? I'd been doing hard manual labor for two years and I get here and people were like wearing shorts and chillin’ on their computers. It was pretty low key when I started. It was awesome. So I think one of your questions was, ‘how did I end up at RNL?’ And that’s actually a really funny story.
Matt: ...so after two years of working at Anheuser-Busch I really wanted to move to Kansas City, and I kept seeing Red Nova pop up, and I was like, what the hell is this? Their website didn't talk about anything they did. Kinda just like it does now. (laughing) But Red Nova kept coming up and I was like, oh, this is like some edgy tech company that is probably in a cool place at an office downtown. So I get an interview after I emailed with Dan a bunch. And he was always really short with me. Kinda like he is now still, sometimes. (laughing) So when I came here for my interview, I had to drive up here the morning of, and I had to leave my house at like 6 something in the morning because I couldn't take off work much so I was only gone a day. You didn't get much time off at those type of jobs.
Matt: So I'd left at like 6 something in the morning and drove up here and I was just like this is insane, coming up here and I don’t even know what this company does. And I was freaking out because I had to dress up after being used to just working in the warehouse and back of huge grocery stores. So I got here super early and parked over on the other side of this building right by where that barbershop is, you know, right up the street? By the tanning place and the restaurants, or whatever? So yeah, I parked up there and got changed into my suit. I brought a suit to wear. So stupid.
Matt: Yeah, well even better...so I had to change into it from basically my pajamas. So I just got out and took my pants off on the side of the road, like right next to the street. So I just stood there in my boxers changing into the suit right next to Rainbow and like quick brushed my teeth with a bottle of water I found in my car.
Matt: That was how I started my morning right before my interview. So after all that I was like freaking out and I was really nervous when I walked in. But I was wearing this nice suit and I had it professionally dry cleaned beforehand, so I was like, okay, looking good, feeling good. So I go to do my interview with Dan and Chris Klein was in there. And I start talking and rattling off all these hard numbers about how I improved sales and stuff. And Dan’s not really paying attention so I’m like freaking out inside. So I keep trying to get his attention, and I start showing him my references and recommendation letters and stuff. And then midway through all that, Dan just starts eating Chipotle right in the middle of my interview and is like really not paying attention at all. So I’m like freaking out even more at this point, like, great, he’s not even paying attention and I drove all the way here. So I’m just still talking and talking, and finally Dan’s like, “alright, we’ll be in touch.” And I just walked out. I actually saw Katelyn on my way out, and I knew her from college, so we talked for a while. But yeah. I got the job and I started here after all that. I think another one of your questions was like, ‘what’s it been like to watch the company change so much?’ And it’s honestly like night and day. This room actually used to be someone’s office...What?
Jana: (laughing) No, go on.
Matt: So yeah, when I started the basement was unfinished - just the one side was finished, there was no kitchen. Katelyn and I and two other people sat in the unfinished part of the basement and there were like no lights or anything. When I first started here, I worked on StorageFront for a year and a half or something like that, and then I started to kind of head up this Buzzmedo project we were building. Which was a really cool platform that worked really, really well.
Jana: So explain Buzzmedo to me, as a new person.
Matt: It was a texting platform for like restaurants and bars. We had a pizza shop on it.
Jana: Like a queueing app?
Matt: No, like text deals and text offers that you can sign up for. So at the time those texting things would all say something like “text PIZZA to 78994” and you had to do all those numbers because someone else had taken the numbers for ‘pizza.’ Well, on ours you could have it be whatever...pizza, wine, chicken, kids...you know, whatever you wanted the deal to be. You didn’t have to do all those numbers, and ours was cheaper. We had these case studies on the pizza shop guy and it really changed his business. There were days when it was like his slowest day, it was fourth of July or something...like a real slow day, because most people aren't eating pizza on fourth of July....they're grilling or whatever. And he was like, ‘I did $309 on fourth of July last year. And then after using the Buzzmedo deal I sent out, I did $2800 that day instead.’
Jana: So how long did you sell Buzzmedo?
Matt: So that went on for like...I think it was going on for like two years. But we were in this flux where we were like kinda just making stuff and still kinda doing some storage stuff on the side. That was about three and half or four years ago, probably? It seems like forever ago. But then we just went full in on the storage websites. And that’s really when everything started changing here. We started cranking and then we just started getting so many people. Going all in on storage changed everything. And that's where, for me, it started to get serious. Because we used to do a lot of fun things here that were fun, don't get me wrong, but I was here because I wanted to make as much money as possible. And I think we've done a good job at keeping that fun, startup culture while also making things more serious. It's still fun at the same time. There's more pressure now to perform and that's good, and there's more deals now, too. We've had a lot of great people walk in and out of these doors over the years, but I feel like this is the best our team has ever been, for sure. Everyone is all working on storage now, and that's pretty much what everyone knows and what everyone's building towards.
Jana: So what is one of your favorite memories here?
Matt: Hmmm….I’m just trying to think of my favorite "appropriate" memory.
Matt: There's been a lot of fun ones. The American Royal was really fun, going to Royals games is always fun. Even just the events here, like the Christmas parties we've had here, at the office, and Friday afternoon gatherings...Dan's birthday one year was pretty eventful. I can't remember what year, it was a couple years ago. But there were a lot of people that stayed and we were here late that night. One Christmas party I think we were here until like 1 or 2 in the morning. So yeah. Lot of shots, lot of people playing beer pong downstairs, it was a total college party, which was fun. That's probably my favorite fun memory. But a lot of my favorite memories are going to all the trade shows -- the big ones anyways. I enjoy meeting with all those people, I like all that stuff. I think one of your other questions was like, ‘what do you enjoy the most?’ And I think, to answer that, it’s meeting with clients and forming these relationships with people, and having a really good product because we have good engineering and marketing and support. It’s pretty awesome because at the end of the day, I’m just the middleman. And sometimes, it’s not even selling, it’s more like I just get to know these people. I have people come up to me at these shows who I might have started talking to like five years ago, and it's pretty cool to hear their stories about how much their website or the software has done for them. It sounds totally Hallmark-y, like, aw, that's nice but I really mean it. It really is cool. If you're in sales, like if I was selling cars, people would be like, 'ugh, he's just trying to get my money, he doesn't care about me.' But with the websites and the software, we're learning so much about them and about their business and what they need, and we're building stuff that they really rely on to run their business effectively.
Jana: So since you brought up trade shows...what is it like to be on the road all the time? You’re on the road more than anyone else here.
Matt: I enjoy that stuff. The thing I enjoy most about being on the road is seeing some people more than once a year and meeting people in their own backyards. I’ve gotten to see some pretty cool places. It’s cool to see different parts of the country. I’ve gone to places I would have never gone. Like I just got back from Greenville, South Carolina, and I probably never would have gone there. But it was awesome, it was a really cool town. I enjoy seeing people on the road and I love networking with people. I enjoy it and I think I’m pretty good at it. I enjoy meeting all the people in the industry and talking to them. You can learn a lot from talking to people. The more I learn, the more it helps me sell the product and our company, because I understand everything better. I think another one of your questions was like, ‘what’s my sales strategy?’ And it’s all about building trust and just talking to people. I can talk to someone about things in their business because I know at least a little bit about every part of the industry now. Like, 'you need help with gates? Who’re you working with?' “Well, I’m looking at this company…” and I know enough people that I can be like, 'well, let me send you the contact info for my guy over there because I know a guy there, I’m friends with him.' So then by that time, you send them an email with contact info and you start building relationships with these companies and they’re like, well, this is guy is going to be able to help us out all the time. One thing I've learned from talking to a lot of these guys about being a business owner is you have to take a chance. And you have to be willing to let things grow and learn as much as you can. It's a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but totally worth it in the end.
Jana: What's your least favorite thing about traveling?
Matt: Definitely my least favorite thing about traveling, even if it's for fun, but especially for work, is when I have an early flight like a 6 a.m. flight. I cannot sleep the night before because my alarm is set for like 3:30 or 3:45 a.m. and it's like midnight and I'm just like, damn, I gotta go to sleep. Especially if we're going to Vegas. Like, one year I went to this bachelor party in Austin, Texas and we went to the Kansas State - Texas football game. And I was there that Thursday through Sunday, and I was supposed to fly out at like noon on Sunday. But then Sunday they asked for someone to take a flight voucher for $400…
Jana: And you were like...(raises hand high and points at self)
Matt: Yeah, exactly. I mean, $400! So of course I did it. And we were going to Vegas the next day for a trade show, so Dan called me at like 8 p.m. or something and he's like, “what are you doing?” I was like, “uh, I’m eating dinner in the airport in Dallas.” And he was like, “our flight is at 6:30 tomorrow morning.” And I was like, “I know, but they offered me a voucher, Dan. I'm getting on this flight in like 20 minutes.” So I got home at like 10 or 11 something, did a little laundry, slept for like three hours, or something like that, and just left again. So that was miserable. Yeah, the lack of sleep is my least favorite thing.
Jana: What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you while traveling for work?
Matt: I saw Flavor Flav on a flight back from a trade show in Vegas this September.
Jana: What!? I need to hear this story.
Matt: I just got on the plane and he was sitting in the first seat. I wasn't sure if it was actually him at first, but then he started dancing around and standing up during the flight. It was hilarious. On the descent into KC he did the weather and plugged his concert that night in Milwaukee. The Southwest people were awesome about having him come on and they gave everyone the heads up there would be a special announcement. That’s really the only weird thing that’s happened to me while traveling. I can’t really think of anything else weird.
Jana: (laughing) Well, I have some suggestions from Dan that might help jog your memory.
Matt: Oh no. Okay, what did he say?
Jana: Dan told me you like to park in the fancy parking spots at the airport?
Matt: Okay. That is a total lie. That was one time. And that was because it was raining.
Matt: We always park at the express parking and the line was way out in the street that morning and it was chaotic because of the rain. It was early morning and they were all backed up, so I was like, screw this and went and parked up front. Which I never do, but Dan is actually the one that always does that on his trips.
Jana: Sure, okay. I also heard about a time when you attended a bachelorette party in Vegas?
Matt: Yeah. That’s true. So one time we stayed an extra night in Vegas and a group of us went out for the night. Our flight was supposed to leave at like 8 or 9 the next morning and we just decided to stay up all night with a client, which we had never done before. Well, the flight ended up getting delayed real bad and it wasn’t leaving until 5 or 6 the next evening. So we went out to breakfast. I was with Ashley and Katelyn, and there’s probably a terrible picture somewhere I guess I could find, but I went and bought some of those tinted visors, you know? And there was this bachelorette party going on there, and I was giving them out to these bachelorettes, too. And I ended up wearing a bachelorette sash and my visor and sunglasses, and yeah, it was ridiculous. But that is one of the most fun things we’ve probably done.
Jana: So you don’t typically attend bachelorette parties on work trips?
Matt: No, not usually, no.
Jana: One more serious question and then we'll do like quick easy questions. Do you have a most memorable experience with a client or a most memorable sale?
Matt: I hate to generalize it, but I think the best feeling is just when you really blow someone away when you show them what we're doing and they're pretty much like, 'okay, what do we gotta do to get going?' When you hear that in sales, you're just like, thank you (puts hands together in prayer). It's a rewarding feeling to get a contract signed. Some of these guys take a week and some take three years, you know. Even four years sometimes to get things done. It can be a long process. A lot of calls. A lot of emails. You have to make sure you're taking really good notes. One of the coolest things is that we’ve legitimately launched three products in self storage that are all changing the industry. I mean we're doing things that no other company has the ability to do, which is pretty nuts for this company and this office of 50 people in Kansas City.
Jana: Easy questions next. No pressure. Just answer the first thing that comes to your mind. Or just say pass.
Matt: Okay, cool.
Jana: What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?
Matt: Any horror movie that has people losing arms and legs and limbs. I don't like gory horror movies.
Jana: Would you rather eat a stick of butter or a gallon of ice cream?
Matt: I'd eat the gallon of ice cream.
Jana: If you could shop for free at any store, what store would you choose?
Matt: Probably Nebraska Furniture Mart. (laughing) I bought a house last year, and like half my house is empty, so....Nebraska Furniture Mart. Then I would constantly just get new appliances.
Jana: What is something that you love doing?
Matt: No, I'm just joking...uhhhh, traveling.
Jana: What is something you hate doing?
Matt: (sighs) Um….pass.
Jana: Okay, who was your favorite singer or band in high school?
Matt: Oh man. Probably Incubus.
Matt: I was actually listening to them this morning, randomly. I was like, I need something to get my morning started before I get in the shower, and I was like, ooh, let's put on some Incubus.
Jana: Would you rather be invisible or be able to read minds?
Matt: Read minds because then I could be unstoppable at selling.
Jana: Yeah, but if you were invisible you wouldn't need to sell anything because you could just steal money.
Matt: Hmm, yeah, I'm still going to stick with read minds.
Jana: What actor would play you in a movie of your life?
Matt: Liam Neeson.
Jana: (laughs) Because you have a very particular set of skills? Skills that you have acquired over a very long career that make you a nightmare for people not wanting storage software?
Matt: Yeah, well that and I want to be well-rounded. He's played a lot of roles outside of that.
Jana: Okay. What motivates you the most?
Matt: Money. Food. I don't know. Wanting to outwork Dan, which is near impossible.
Jana: If you were running for office, what would your campaign slogan be?
Matt: “Make Storage Great Again.” I actually said that once in real life, but then StoreLocal started putting that out so I didn’t want to steal their thunder.
Jana: Well, I've heard you've been called "The Man of Self Storage" so that is a fitting slogan for you.
Matt: Yeah. Or maybe, "Free Chipotle for every man, woman and child."
Jana: (laughs) Yep, that is it. That’s probably a good place to end this. I’m calling it. Matt Friederich for POTUS 2020: “Free Chipotle for every man, woman and child.”