Ahhh, Mad Gringo. We’ve been fans of the company with a curious name for quite some time. Why wouldn’t we be? Their slogan is “Go Slow”, and with their tropical vibe and quirky sense of humor, their philosophy of life fits us to a “tee”. Pun of course, intended. They sell some great tropical tees and other tropical apparel.
Anyway, we followed them on Facebook and purchased Mad Gringo products until one day, we saw a post that said “The Long Adios”. Mad Gringo, it appeared, would be no more. However, after a bit of restructuring, Mad Gringo has returned – and to our delight, as off-the-wall and humorous as ever. Find out more about this company, the history, their great tropical apparel, the new owners and their plans for the future of Mad Gringo in our recent interview with Mad Tom, aka Tom Spears.
Who is Mad Gringo?
“Okay, let’s get this straight right from the get-go – I’m Mad Gringo. Not the original Mad Gringo, mind you, but right now I’m the one and only.” To find out how Tom became Mad Gringo, you can read his very humorous account in a series of short blog posts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.
How did the idea for Mad Gringo come about?
“Well”, Tom replied, “Mad Gringo was the brainchild of the original owner, Greg Chambers. We still communicate with Greg on a regular basis and he even occassionally offers advice – some of it is even good. Greg has moved onto other things, like running his own consultancy called Chambers Pivot Industries.
The legend of how the company came into being involves Greg spending a vacation in Mexico and meeting a t-shirt salesman at a beach bar late one night. The two of them shared life stories with him over a bottle of tequila (maybe two.) In the morning, he knew he couldn’t go back to the Corporate grind. Announcing to his new-found friend – that he wasn’t going back, and instead, might just take up selling shirts just like him – the guy replied, “You’re mad, Gringo.” Hence the name of the company.”
The history of Mad Gringo
Mad Gringo started back in 2006 in Mad Greg’s basement, and it took off pretty quickly. Greg has a good head for marketing and promotion and did a lot of clever, appealing things to give the business a fun look and feel – funny tags, custom bags, stickers.
Washing instructions on the Fish Bones Tropical Shirt
The business grew steadily for several years, branching beyond online sales to include retail accounts. Unfortunately, retail required substantial cash investment for which Greg and his team simply didn’t have easy access. Eventually, Mad Gringo was merged into a local children’s clothing retailer in Omahoahu.
This was the start of a period of decline for the business. Mad Gringo languished for a couple of years. Eventually, the remaining inventory was auctioned off, and the brand was sold to a t-shirt printer in Iowa.
The new owner was great at making t-shirts, but not so good at understanding the brand and developing its image. After another year or two, it was closed.
That’s when Greg decided to run a “last hurrah” Kickstarter campaign to produce a final tropical shirt and a commemorative tee. When Tom realized the business might be available, he started checking it out, and eventually purchased Mad Gringo.
Since Mad Tom, Mad Bill and Mad Evan have taken over things (which started early in 2015) they’ve been resurrecting suppliers, locating new suppliers, acquiring t-shirt printing equipment, building a website, etc. They feel they are just now getting their legs under them and hope to quickly grow the number and variety of products that they are offering.
The company is now located in Fremoahu (Fremont) Nebraska. It used to be located on the Big Island of Omahoahu, (Omaha) but when the business changed hands, they relocated.
A little about the new owners
Mad Tom, is a 50 something guy, and an experienced business manager with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Harvard. At one point in his career, he had 4,000 people reporting to him. Now life is simpler and he concentrates on having fun. In his spare time, he write novels (seven published to date). He’s got 7 kids and he and his wife live on a rural lake in Eastern Nebraska.
Tom said his job at Mad Gringo is…”Well, I don’t actually do much of anything at the company. Bill is the president and runs the place.” Tom says he shows up at the offices one day a week and spends most of my time brewing beer in a small hobby space reserved for me in the back. Sometimes he gets involved in projects or other issues going on in the main company, but mostly he just has fun. Actually, he manages the marketing and web presence too.
Mad Bill is roughly the same age with a degree in Economics. He was the President of a manufacturing company in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and moved to Nebraska to run the company. He is recently remarried (he was widowed years ago) and has two children. Mad Tom and Mad Bill have been best friends for fifteen years.
Mad Evan is mid 20’s and has a business degree. He is quite entrepreneurial and this is his first job post college. Mad Evan helps run the business along with another business of theirs called Mouse Assassin and is Bill’s son.
Their company, the entity in which Mad Gringo resides, is actually a manufacturing firm called TEK Services.
The philosophy behind Mad Gringo
The company’s slogan is “Go Slow.” The idea is that we all face plenty of frustrations in our daily lives, the kind of thing that makes us want to “chuck it all” and go live on a beach someplace. That’s our “Inner Mad Gringo” talking. If we take some time to satisfy that “IMG” we can keep him at bay. Otherwise, he might pop out at the most inopportune moment. Part of that pacification is “Going Slow,” Taking time, and maybe wearing the occasional tropical shirt.
Good advice. And Mad John, aka John of Rum Therapy, is completely mad about his new Mad Gringo Fish Bones Tropical Shirt. Here you can see him modeling (while enjoying a glass of Zacapa 23). It will definitely come in handy during our upcoming tropical trip and will certainly remind him to just “Go Slow”.
After all, it’s made of 13% “SLOW-OSE”
Are you ready to GO SLOW? Check out all the great Mad Gringo products on their website:
And follow them on Facebook for a dose of off-beat humor – oh, and updates on new products and stuff!
They’re on Twitter too.
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