As mentioned in a previous article, Evan Rubinson is President and CEO at Armadillo Enterprises. In this conversation, Evan discusses his experience so far as the team leader and his plans for the future.
Jason Blount: Thank you for sitting down with me again and touring the Armadillo Enterprises facility and the Made in the USA custom workshop. I’m excited to learn about your perspective after becoming CEO two years ago. So artist-wise, are you working with the same musicians?
Evan: Dave Mustaine is one of the biggest. Dimebag Darrel as well. Those are our two flagship artists.
Jason: Are you focusing on getting new artists?
Evan: Absolutely. We’re always looking for new talent and we’re interested in people at different life cycles. We’d like to have people from that younger generation that haven’t blown up yet and then older, more experienced guys. And of course, people who are 60+ legends. Those icons will inspire that younger generation to play Dean as well.
Jason: Over the last couple of years, have you added any new artists?
Evan: Yeah. Some of the big guys have been Christian Martucci from Stonesour. Awesome guitar player and total gearhead. And Dink Cook from Toby Keith.
Jason: That’s awesome! Do you feel like you’re starting to get your momentum?
Evan: I do. Things are becoming more routine and standardized, but at the same time, I’m trying to not get complacent in the same routine. You always have to be thinking innovatively and futuristically. Being content is awesome, but being complacent is a cardinal sin.
Jason: I agree. Routine can be helpful, but it can also limit potential future changes. What’s something you didn’t expect coming in as CEO?
Evan: One big transition was how I went from managing data to managing people. Similar concept, but totally different feel. Managing data and research is very simple because you have total control. Managing people is totally different because everyone has different personalities and there’s no cookie-cutter mold. It’s a more individualized approach. I grew up with a lot of these people, so I have to figure out what works for them so that I can make this company work for all of us.
Jason: That is an interesting transition. So, now you’re two years in. Where do you see yourself after that 10-year mark?
Evan: Originally, I took a step back to put a new foundation down for the company. We took a little revenue hit to get back to basics. Now, I think one of the biggest aspects right now is scaling on revenue and USA Production. We’re just trying to take that and snowball it now.
Jason: How is your USA production doing?
Evan: We’ve increased the USA production by about 22 percent now. That’s up four percent from last year. This has been a targeted initiative of mine. It’s not only the best product for artists, it’s the best product to show to our consumers. Our USA guitar is the crème de la crème. If people have that respect for our USA and see iconic artists playing it, selling everything else under that becomes exponentially easier.
Jason: That’s exciting news! What do you think has caused that increase in USA sales?
Evan: I would attribute it directly to some big artist signings that have been shown playing their USA guitars. Secondarily, I would attribute it to a big marketing push internally.
Jason: So, I’ve heard you’re developing an app. What will that be like?
Evan: We’ve created a customizer, and we’d like to release it on the app. The app will have a lot of useful tools, like tuners, geo-locating artists for shows in your area, and a lot of other cool information. I think what would separate us from other apps would be that USA customizer. It could also be a platform for the Dean Forum where people can engage on the go.