On a recent visit to OC’s own Buy.com, I noticed that the Aliso Viejo online store still has dot-com flair.
Free ice cream, sodas and Naked Juice. Catered lunches every day! I’m told that scooters, Razors and even Segways are regularly used by employees to move from one cubicle to another — although not on the day I got a tour.
Little pots of fresh grass decorate the conference room tables and the lobby. Someone comes in weekly to trim grass with scissors. While the game room got cleared out for more customer service staff, a Ms. Pac-man arcade game found a new home in the cafeteria.
Neel Grover, its chief executive since May 2006, is young, friendly and determined. Dressed in dark jeans and a long-sleeved black shirt, he’s far from the suited exec at most companies in the county. That’s him on the right, although that’s not his motorcycle. Buy.com’s founder Scott Blum is a collector.
The company plans to report its sixth consecutive profitable quarter soon. Not bad when you’re selling everything at a discount (except for prices set by the manufacturer).
“It’s not just me, by any means,” Grover tells me. “I have a great team. Most of the employees have been here for 10 years.”
That means the bulk of its 125 employees were there during the dot-com mania days, when it was a publicly traded company, employed more than 300 people and had free-shipping deals so frequently, I’d time purchases to take advantage of the deal. But also back then, the company was losing money and many critics thought Buy.com was going bye bye.
Buy.com, obviously, is still around. Grover said listening to the customer has helped boost sales. And now, he said, “We make money on every product we sell — we make a little less money than our competitors.”
“We’re a very mature young company. There’s still a long way to go,” Grover concedes. And yes, he said, answering my next question before I could ask it. “We think we’ll catch them (Amazon).”
Jebb Harris, a Register photographer, took photos of our tour and offers a picturesque view of life at today’s Buy.com. Click here to check them out!
Read a longer story after the jump:
Read the rest of this entry »