RESA Wearables pushing through growing pains
Prescott startup lays off employees in preparation for further expansion
Business growth rarely comes without some adjustments along the way.
And those adjustments are not always as tidy and shiny as the overall vision set forth by a company.
About 18 months into its founding, RESA Wearables, a Prescott-based startup that prints 3D custom shoe insoles, has had great success leveraging local support to rapidly expand its footprint in the community and beyond.
With help from area partners like the City of Prescott, Yavapai College, the Northern Arizona Council of Governments and the Greater Prescott Regional Economic Partnership (GPREP), RESA went from having about 20 employees at the end of 2017 to about 120 employees last month — most of whom live in the quad-city area.
That number dropped slightly this past week when about 10 Prescott-based employees and a handful of others in various parts of the country were let go. It was their first layoff as a new company.
“It was definitely necessary, because as you go through a run and gun phase, you attract everyone because you need them, and then as you regroup and look at the next year and the budget, sometimes you have to contract a little bit before you expand again,” said Glen Hinshaw, the creator and CEO of RESA Wearables.
In other words, the company, which has been testing its insole-printing kiosks at Costcos throughout the country and plans to begin showing off its product in Canada soon, is working to focus more of its energy on efficiency now that it has built a foundation.
“About 10 percent or so of the folks were hired several months back and were trained on an idea associated with sales management to just put warm bodies in physical locations,” Hinshaw said.
“It was really problematic because of the lack of training or experience they had.”
Andrew McKenzie from Prescott Valley was one of those laid off. With just four days of training on how to operate the company’s kiosks and sell the product, he was thrown into the operation and gradually figured things out as he went along.
“It was a positive experience. I loved my job,” McKenzie said.
He noticed some turbulence with the way things were being managed, but expected it given how new the company is.
“It is a startup, so you just have to roll with the punches,” McKenzie said.
Being let go actually caught him off guard.
“I was doing really good, so I was shocked,” he said. “All of the people that I talked to, like all of the district managers, were really shocked too. They were talking about promoting me, and then just laid me off, which was kind of like a blindside.”
The email he received about the layoff was just a blanket message indicating that his termination was a matter of productivity.
“Just not enough sales,” McKenzie said. “People just weren’t making enough sales.”
Hinshaw doesn’t anticipate having to make any more such layoffs in the near future. If anything, he’s planning for steadier, more targeted hiring using grant funds and a continued internship program through Yavapai College’s Career and Technical Education Center.
“We’re bringing on a bit more of the robotics lab and cybersecurity people into the winter to really help us gear up some of what’s ahead,” he said.
“We have a large database now that we also have to manage because of the reorders and new orders.”
The Greater Prescott Regional Economic Partnership (GPREP) recently touted the economic impact RESA is projected to have using a recently acquired hiring and training grant for $460,318 from the Arizona Commerce Authority.
“The financial impact on the area should be around 6.5 million dollars,” said GPREP Executive Director Ginger Johnson.
And while Hinshaw could take his company to other cities, he’s determined to maintain RESA’s primary base of operations in the Prescott area — where he was born and raised.
“We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We’re hunkering down and getting good people trained and building infrastructure in the city.”