The leader of a San Luis Obispo-based company that launched in a garage and now boasts customers in 94 nations called upon Central Coast residents to think regionally and not as individual communities.
Rick Stollmeyer, chief executive officer of Mindbody, spoke Thursday night in Buellton during the annual dinner and future forum program for the Economic Alliance of Northern Santa Barbara County.
“The most important thing I want to say to you all is we’ve got to get together as a region because we’re small fry,” Stollmeyer said. “SLO is small fry. Paso’s small fry. Santa Maria’s small fry. Lompoc’s small fry.”
Together, the communities can boast of having a population of 500,000 while trying to attract high-paying jobs, he added..
“We have Allan Hancock and Cuesta, two of the best community colleges in California,” he said, to which the audience applauded. “We have tech tradition centered around Vandenberg Air Force Base. I mean amazing talent there.”
Stollmeyer said the region can tout the Central Coast way of life and the range of cost-of-living options in the various communities.
“We’ve got to think regionally now,” he said. “I’m here as an emissary from a group of leaders in San Luis Obispo.”
Stollmeyer co-founded his company after a few years of commuting to Vandenberg AFB from San Luis Obispo County. A meeting on State Street with a friend introduced Stollmeyer to the concept of software for yoga, spinning, pilates and other fitness facilities — and a way to end his long commute.
“Software is here to enable people to accomplish more,” Stollmeyer said.
Mindbody offers software for online scheduling, marketing and point of sale options for fitness, yoga, spa, massage, dance salon, personal training, pilates and martial arts businesses.
“It’s about connecting to the customer,” he said.
He and his friend started the business in his garage in 2001.
“I threw caution to the wind to start a company with my old friend from high school who had no computer science background to serve an industry I hadn’t heard of a year and half prior,” he said. “I left a really good job at Vandenberg, and I think my family thought I had gone nuts.”
Now, Mindbody has four buildings adding up to 160,000 square feet and 1,000 team members in San Luis Obsipo plus a satellite support office in Santa Maria.
The choice made sense when the human resources staff — the People and Culture Department — analyzed where employees lived, finding many in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Ynez Valley. Today, there are 88 team members in Santa Maria and that number is expected to grow to 100, according to Stollmeyer.
“The talent pool is amazing. The spirit and energy is fantastic. It’s one of our best performing offices,” he said. “We have 14 offices worldwide now. We love our Santa Maria office.”
He recalled struggling to persuade investors to support a business based on the Central Coast.
“If we ever run out of ability to attract talent, we’ll move,” he said. “We have never run out of the ability to attract talent because we sell this entire lifestyle here.”
Thursday’s event also included recognition for DenMat Inc. with the EconAlliance Innovation Award. The dental company, which began in Santa Maria before relocating to Lompoc, was recognized for its Additive-Reductive Template, or ART, for the Lumineers product. It helps alleviate the guesswork for patients and dentists by letting them preview a new smile before the final porcelain is fabricated.
The firm will be going to three shifts and plans to add employees, according to DenMat representative Randall Berry.
“I’m very excited about the growth,” he said.
The award is a reflection of DenMat’s creative management, said Ben Oakley of the Pacific Coast Energy Co. and the EconAlliance Awards Committee chair.
“Truly, they are a global industry leader right here on the Central Coast,” Oakley said.
Richard Swanson, regional director of the Pacific South Network for the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration, also spoke at the event, focusing on trade.