Interview with Jim Markel CEO of Red Oxx Manufacturing

Jim Markel CEO of Red Oxx Manufacturing

Montana Ambassadors Interviews are part of an ongoing series of blog posts bringing you stories, insights and advice from leaders and business all across Montana and beyond. The opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the interviewee. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Montana Ambassadors or its members.

Your company Red Oxx Manufacturing was awarded the Montana Ambassador Business of the Year. Can you share how MTA has helped you and your team?

It’s always helpful to receive national recognition, especially when you’re a small online soft-sided luggage and outdoor gear manufacturer based out here in the quiet state of Montana. I enjoyed attending the Montana Ambassadors California Chapter event this fall in Burbank where I engaged in networking and strengthening relationships that brought great value home for us.

What is something we may not be aware of that you would like to share?

Red Oxx is intentionally transparent, both to the consumer and to our staff. We operate as an open book that is concerned with the wellbeing of our team, our future, and how we live. Our primary focus is on gaining perspectives from our clients and partners in order to grow and serve the community.

What are some of the pleasures of your job?

I am constantly travelling, meeting new people and gathering insights. One hobby of mine is photography, especially while visiting other cultures. From an operations perspective I enjoy constantly improving our manufacturing processes and honing our skills. I get a thrill from the various aspects of my role as CEO. From trade shows to property management, I prefer not to have it any other way. This helps keep me highly engaged and focused; it is a journey and businesses are a part of that.

If you could wave a magic wand to provide a solution for an issue affecting your company what would that be?

Solving the rising costs of health care. We have close to thirty employees and the last few years has been challenging with fees increasing 20-30%. We are invested in the people that make our company great and we want the best for them.

What are some of the advantages of being a Montana based company?

The reputation of rugged individualism of Montana’s people carries considerable weight. Consider that it’s a brand moniker of sorts. There are over 330 million folks in our nation but we have only about 1 million here in our state. The integrity and hard work ethic of its residents is admirable. (We conducted our interview at the Burger Dive – a top national award-winner located here in Billings). Our products are synonymous with those same traits and greatly qualify us as a Montana business.

What are some of the challenges operating in Montana?

We have many clients on the coasts, in fact over 5000 active accounts in the New York City area alone. Due to rising shipping fees, most firms would move their manufacturing closer to their clientele, not us. Billings is a regional market hub for goods, and for services like healthcare, we provide for a large footprint in our region.

What would you say to other potential business owners or startups about the advantages of being a Montana based company?

You may be a little crazy to start up a manufacturing facility here in our fly-over state, it’s certainly not easy. However, the best part is having access to this beautiful scenery at our back door. We can grab the dog and head into the Beartooth’s for the weekend and come back to work on Monday feeling phenomenally energized. Having grown up near LA and having traveled extensively abroad, I gain purity of life by living here in Montana.