An experienced entrepreneur and business leader, Remy Garson is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Remcoda, a division of IBrands Global, LLC. In March 2020, he pivoted the business to meet the demand of much-needed safety products driven by the COVID-19 Pandemic. By utilizing IBrands’ expansive supply chain infrastructure, Remcoda became the leading supplier of safety products to the food service and healthcare industries in the U.S. Since then, Remcoda has expanded its global sourcing operation and diversified its product lines delivering full catalogues of food service items. The company maintains eight distribution centers across the country.
Mr. Garson has also focused on corporate responsibility throughout his tenure as CEO of Remcoda. He has pledged to transition its disposable food service products, including cutlery, cups, straws, and trays, to more environmentally friendly alternatives that are 100 percent biodegradable and compostable.
Mr. Garson is a board member of IBrands Global, which was launched by his father, Marc Garson, a retail industry veteran who pioneered supply chains in Asia in the 1980s. Remy Garson’s brothers also hold leadership roles in the family-owned company.
Throughout his career, Mr. Garson has championed initiatives that promote women’s empowerment in business. He and his wife, Renata, maintain seats on the Board of Directors of the Seven Bar Foundation, which helps underprivileged women fund their small businesses by providing them with loans.
Mr. Garson and his wife also launched EBY, a women’s empowerment brand with a similar focus on supporting women entrepreneurs who are living in poverty. The organization uses a portion of its sales to finance loans for these small business owners. By the end of 2022, EBY will have impacted the lives of more than 40,000 women and children worldwide.
Remy Garson graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science. He lives with his wife in New York.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
My father was a supply chain pioneer in that he was among the first wave of Westerners to establish Chinese manufacturing when the country first opened to the West. In the 40 years since, he has developed extensive operations in China covering sourcing, strategic manufacturing partnerships and logistics operations. Over the decades, IBrands Global became well known in the fashion space with ownership of brands and licenses including well-known names like Harley Davidson, Sketchers, XOXO, Lucky Brand, Superdry, Seven7 Jeans, Naf Naf, bebe, BCBG and more.
The idea for Remcoda was born out of the pandemic. Suddenly, there was massive global demand for life-saving protective equipment and medical supplies, but securing this product was nearly impossible. Thanks to our strength in China, we were, however, able to get it. Over the next 2 years, Remcoda was the country’s leading importer of proactive equipment and medical devices, importing thousands of containers to healthcare, food service and government customers.
Today, Remcoda remains the largest division of IBrands, serving as a supply chain platform for all the IBrands companies. We operate 8 warehouses at each main US Port with our own freight forwarding company specializing in imports, drayage and a full suite of 3PL services. Our customer base remains in healthcare, food service and government with an expansion to health & wellness for retail, pharmacies, and grocers.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day consists of waking up around 6AM, going to the gym and listening to a podcast like Ed Mylett, How I Built This or Masters of Scale. I then run a mix of internal and external company meetings with a focus on strategic direction, developing initiatives to be the “next big thing” and regular check-ins with Operations to ensure ongoing programs are running smoothly. I try to be an inspirational leader and I drill a mix of best practices, goal setting and accountability with my team. To ensure my days are productive, I obsessively keep a categorized to-do list, which I meticulously work on throughout the week.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing ideas to life is all about execution. Our company grew 30x in 2 years, which required a determination to always get to the next step. We live by Mark Zuckerberg’s famous mantra “Go fast and break things”. We avoid paralysis by analysis by greenlighting operations when ideas are approximately 80% fleshed out. We use our best judgement to make decisions understanding that the missing 20% means mistakes will be made, but our organization places a much higher value on forward progress than perfection.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Innovation in food service disposables excites me. Each year, 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans, that’s like dumping one New York City garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute of every day for a year. To address this, the food service industry is aggressively moving into 100% compostable and biodegradable disposable products. Exciting innovations in substrates range from sugarcane to bamboo to natural fiber to birchwood. As the massive multi-trillion dollar food service industry shift away from foam and plastic to these alternatives, the companies at the forefront will have a once in a generation market share opportunity.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I work every Sunday to prepare myself for the week ahead.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stay intellectually curious, learn as much as you can across a wide range of topics and resist narrowing in on something specific too early. You have the rest of your life to do that and diversity of knowledge will serve you well throughout your career.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Booking travel arrangements last minute saves you money.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I recognize that being in a bad mood stunts my ability to create and see possibilities, so whenever I feel myself veering off to the dark side, I do this one thing. I ask myself, “if I had to give myself a grade for my attitude today, what would it be?” Answering this question with say a “5” then begs the next question – “what grade would I want to give myself for the rest of the day?” Its amazing how quickly you can shift your perspective and take control of your emotions.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Use volume to lower costs. We have learned that with volume comes a host of advantages from increased leverage in negotiating lower product prices to the ability to bring certain functions in-house versus working with 3rd parties. Shifting from 3rd parties to in-house increases your service and performance quality by giving you more control over and visibility into your business. Because of all this, we will even secure volume at no margin. Capturing more market share is another benefit.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
To see things too optimistically. Its easy to get so caught up in your idea that you miss its weaknesses. To overcome this, I surrounded myself with experienced more senior people who add perspective different than mine. Then I listen to them!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A platform that lets residents in city neighborhoods cheaply crowdfund for private street cleaning services that supplement insufficient city-funded services.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A ticket for admission to Joshua Tree National Reserve because it created a life-long memory and bonding event with my family
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Zoominfo. It has helped me find any contact needed for my business. It’s been the greatest lead generating tool that has led to millions of dollars of sales.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend the book Scaling Up. It’s a powerful business book that introduces best practices and new ways of thinking that will help you achieve your business goals by boosting engagement in the team and placing a focus on People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash.
What is your favorite quote?
Move fast and break things.
- Growth is about execution. Forward progress is more valuable than perfection.
- Look for areas where innovation is creating once in a generation market share opportunities and focus on being a leader
- Leverage volume to lower costs and bring more functions of your business in-house versus working with 3rd parties.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.