Kim Scurry had big plans upon graduating from college in North Carolina with a degree in public policy. She had volunteer work lined up in Kenya, and was looking at career options on the East Coast. Little did she know that the summer gig in Yellowstone National Park she applied to “just to have something to do before Kenya” would change her path completely - and make Montana the only place she can imagine calling home now.
After that first summer in Yellowstone, Kim spent about 18 months working for a political consultant and a hotel in Washington, D.C. But, as she recalls, “I just kept feeling the pull of Montana; I really wanted to get back.” In 1991, Kim knew it was time to make her move out west, and left for Bozeman without a job or a plan.
“I just kept feeling the pull of Montana; I really wanted to get back.”
- Kim Scurry, CEO of Wizbang Hats
Kim found work as a sales rep at a women’s clothing store, and worked her way up to a position as a buyer. She spent less than a year in the fashion world before taking a customer service supervisor position at Extended Systems (one of two tech companies in Bozeman at the time). Kim liked the excitement and fast pace of working in the tech world, and recognized a great opportunity for professional growth when Bozeman’s new software powerhouse,Right Now Technologies started “hiring and growing like crazy”.
“I can’t even really remember exactly how it happened - I think maybe a friend introduced me to Greg [Gianforte], and I asked him for a job. Pretty soon after that I was going to work as Right Now’s first marketing person.
The growth was phenomenal. When Kim started at Right Now she was the only person in the marketing department, and annual sales were less than $1 million. Five years later, she was heading up a team of 20 in the marketing department. By the time software industry giant Oracle bought Right Now for $1.5 billion in March 2012, Kim had earned a Vice President of Operations title and was leading a cross-functional team . She also knew it was time to do something different:
“My time with Right Now was amazing, and there was definitely opportunity with Oracle. But, I knew I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial, and it felt like I was at this moment in my life where I had the time and resources to really think about what that would look like.”
As it turns out, Kim’s next business adventure/opportunity looked like stylish, highly functional hats designed for athletic women. Within a couple weeks of making her decision to break away from the tech industry, Kim was introduced to the owner of a small hat company, Wizbang Hats. The company was in its infancy, and the owner much preferred the design side of the business over the marketing and sales side. Kim quickly saw Wizbang’s potential to take off, and the new venture was exactly what she was looking for.
“I wanted a challenge and a completely new experience, and I knew Wizbang offered both of those. It also just looked like a lot of fun to work with some great women, and make a quality outdoor clothing product.”
As WizBang’s new “Head Honcho Hatter”, Kim immediately hired two sales reps and moved the majority of production from California back to Montana, where she found a custom sew house in the northern part of the state. Kim sees the close working relationship she has with her Montana vendors as a key to Wizbang’s success:
Kim Scurry, CEO of Wizbang Hats
“The relationship I have with my sewing team translates directly into a quality product. They’re incredibly hard-working people and committed to doing a great job for me. I think that’s honestly a Montana thing - those deep work values - and I really value that about my team.”
As of April 2014, Kim has owned Wizbang for two years. Sales have already doubled, with retail distribution extending into Bob Ward’s Sporting Goods stores across Montana, Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply in Montana and Colorado and Big Peach Running Stores in Atlanta. Kim recently brought on two more sales reps and is focusing on growing the e-commerce side of the business. For Kim, the best part of Wizbang’s success is that she can successfully grow the company from Bozeman:
“I can’t ever see myself moving. This is the best place to raise kids, and we have quick and easy access to recreation. I think that creates a healthier lifestyle, and makes it easy to recruit and retain top talent…The business climate in Bozeman is really hot right now.”