Left to Our Own Devices Podcast
Running the Pandemic Marathon with Radio Flyer CEO, Robert Pasin
Radio Flyer, the Chicago-based company that makes those iconic red wagons that kids have pulled along sidewalks for generations, has survived through a crisis or two. After all, the company was founded over a hundred years ago in 1917, right before the 1918 flu pandemic ravaged the world. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when Covid struck in March, they’d be able to survive through resilience, an intentional culture, and a marathon mindset. CEO Robert Pasin sits down with Erica to discuss what’s changed and what hasn’t for the historic family-run brand. Robert, a former marathoner himself, knew that this time would come with ups and downs, just like on a long run, and knew what to do to prepare for it—starting with the commitment to keeping everyone on and forgoing layoffs. What resulted was a team that, knowing they were secure in their jobs, could stay focused on delivering delight to families and kids that would be spending a lot more time at home with their toys.
“The very first question I got at the very first meeting was, ‘Are there going to be layoffs at Radio Flyer?’ And fortunately we had gone through and looked at that as a leadership team. We ran a bunch of projections, and assuming even if we had some really significant sales decreases, we had decided that we could not have layoffs.”
“[My bi-monthly update] really has helped center me also, and it helps me while I’m not seeing everyone at work, I think about the team, and I think about who might be reading this. And it helps me connect in that way to people too. So it’s been really good. It’s been really powerful for both me and I’ve gotten lots of great feedback from the team on it also.”
“I went for a run with my 15-year-old son, and he started asking me questions about when I used to run marathons, and how I’d get through it. Then I started reflecting on the techniques I would use going through the marathon—the highs and lows of the marathon—and then at the end of the run, I was like ‘Oh my gosh, this is great material for my email for the team!’ So I put into the email that story.”
“One of the gifts of this period of time of working from home was that I got to have lunch with my wife of 26 years regularly and go for walks and take breaks with her. And we’ve never done that.”