We had the good fortune of connecting with Merse Gaitan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Merse, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This is hard because it’s very easy to give up and come up with excuses to justify your decisions. In the case of AZ Outdoors, we like what we do and it’s the small things that remind us that we should keep going. We set small goals that are attainable and don’t stress about them. We know if we put in the work then good things will happen. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re not making sales or your social media isn’t on fire, but you just have to take a step back and think about all the good things that have happened and enjoy those moments even more. We still get pumped on the smallest sale and high five when we get even one more follower because that’s progress and progress even in the slightest is better than giving up.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My story is one of timing and timing is everything. I’m a college dropout who was scrapping pennies to pay rent it was great but in my early 20’s my standards were pretty low. This job was full time with benefits, I had to wear a dress shirt and they had a ping pong table in the break room. I felt like a full-fledged adult and for a moment all was good. Then like I mentioned 2008 hit harder than a MAC truck and I was unemployed again and scraping pennies. I had a cousin who worked in a warehouse who knew I needed to survive and they needed summer help. The interview process was quite simple, I was an able-bodied you man with an open schedule. Not surprisingly I was offered a seasonal summer position on the spot. That was 14 years ago… That seasonal summer job turned into a full-time parts delivery person, which turned into a warehouse position that eventually led to managing a warehouse. Then that led to an entry-level accounting position that turned into an office manager role and now 14 years in I’m an assistant general manager with an opportunity to run a company soon that I thought I would be in for 3 months.
I would be lying if I said I loved every minute of it because I didn’t at all. I wanted to quit so many times I lost track. But the thing about this job is the company, it’s a family-owned business with some of the greatest people I’ve had the opportunity to meet. I could go on with a laundry list of qualities, but it still wouldn’t do them justice. I stay because I like the work and I love the people I work for. I spend all day with some of my best friends and I can honestly say that I don’t mind going to work every day.
If you asked me 14 years ago if I would still be doing what I do, I would have laughed at the thought that was ridiculous. I don’t want to say I’ve been lucky, but the timing of things always seems to work out in my favor. If I’ve learned anything is that while rare these days there are still places out there that value hard work and will reward you for it. Find one of these places, put your head down and do the work. Be a good employee, be nice to your coworkers, be fair, know your value, appreciate what you have, take every opportunity to excel because it might be the only shot you are given and you never know what it might lead to.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One night at least in downtown Phoenix to watch a Suns Game. Spend a day at Canyon Lake paddleboarding then have a late lunch at Tortilla Flats. Take a day trip up to the White Mountains to go fishing at Hawley Lake and on the way back in stop to have dinner at a little Mexican restaurant called El Rancho. Wake up early to hike up San Tan Mountain and have lunch at San Tan flats. Have dinner one night at Joyride and follow it up with drinks at The White Rabbit or Sotol.
Check out the renaissance festival if it’s going on.
Have lunch at Ted’s if you are looking for a good hot dog.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Major credit to my parents for trying to raise an upstanding human being even when I disagreed with what they were saying most of the time. Being a father now, I can appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that went into providing a pretty great childhood experience, Shoutout to my kids who keep me on my toes and give me a reason to get up and try to be a better person every single day. Even on the worst days, they make me smile.
My wife deserves a ton of credit for putting up with me for the past decade. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her. I don’t tell her enough how awesome she is and how great of a mom she is to our kids. Her ability to be a super mom while also being a super wife, daughter, employee, and coworker is a legit superpower.
Also thanks to all the friends and family along the way.