Joe Nocito, International Sales and Global Marketplace Business Development at Darn Tough Vermont, laughs as he tells people sitting next to him on a flight that he’s a sock salesperson.
It’s true but it’s an understatement to all that he’s done.
Over the last five years, he’s taken Darn Tough Socks from 3 countries (US, Japan, and Canada) to 25 countries around the world.
We deep dive into how he and the senior management team developed their international growth strategy and talk about grants available for translation.
And for fun, hear about why the socks they sell are different in Sweden and Norway!
Connect with Wendy - https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendypease/
Connect with GUEST - https://www.linkedin.com/in/jnocito/
Music: Fiddle-De-Dee by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com
ATTENTION: Below is a machine generated transcription of the podcast. Yes, at Rapport International, we talk a lot about how machine translation is not good quality. Here you see an example of what a machine can do in your own your language. This transcription is provided as a gist and to give time indicators to find a topic of interest.
[00:00:35] Wendy: Hello, and welcome to the global marketing show podcast. It's brought to you by Rapport International, the high quality translation interpretation company with a hundred percent satisfaction. And you know what else? Is really high quality. And I was reading on their website that you've only need seven pairs of them to have a life time of [00:01:00] socks because their quality is so good.
[00:01:01] And those are darn tough socks. I don't know if you've ever heard of them. I see them in the stores with a lot of hikers in them, but there's so much more today. We're welcoming Joe Nocito, who is the international sales and marketplace business development lead. Um, he's a fascinating guy. So Joe, welcome.
[00:01:25] Joe: Thanks for having me here.
[00:01:26] Wendy: Yeah. Yeah. I'm so excited because I mean, your [00:01:30] story is fascinating. Um, and let's, let's jump into darn tough. I'd li I went on the website and I immediately get a pop-up that says, you know, enter to win a lifetime of socks and, you know, my socks. Flashed in front of my eyes. And so, and on it, it says all you need is seven socks.
[00:01:49] Cause that'll get you one. Per day for the rest of your life. I thought, oh my gosh, how easy would that be? Tell him, tell me about darn tough socks. [00:02:00] How did this company get started? And, and how are you making socks that are such high quality,
[00:02:07] Joe: as long as you're doing your laundry everyday? Uh, you'll have a sock for every day of the week.
[00:02:13] And, uh, you know, also our socks are largely Merino wool, which is really good at not getting stinky. So you don't have to wash them nearly as much. Um, so yeah, so darn tough got started, uh, about
[00:02:28] Wendy: I I'm laughing and I'm [00:02:30] trying to keep quiet to not introduce you, but, okay. So you have seven socks, seven pairs of socks for two feet every day.
[00:02:36] Assuming you have two feet, you only have to do laundry every couple of weeks because you can rewear them. Cause they don't get stinky. Yeah, that's right. It's like the dream sock.
[00:02:47] Joe: Okay. Yeah, I'm told she had been running around and that material for 10,000 years or more so.
[00:02:58] Wendy: Okay. The same [00:03:00] sheep were in the same wall.
[00:03:03] All right. So how did the company get started?
[00:03:06] Joe: Uh, so the company is owned by a Rick Cabot and his dad mark habit. And, uh, mark habit started a sock mill in Northfield, Vermont in 1978. And they did private label socks for a lot of us brands, you know, brands that you would know, like gap and Republic, old Navy, um, Brooks brothers, and, [00:03:30] um, they had a growing business.
[00:03:32] And then towards the late 1990s, early two thousands, all those companies realized that they can get their, their products cheaper overseas. And so the family. Kind of watched their business, uh, shrink and, and dwindle. And so they, they kinda stood up to that and said, well, you know, if we have our own brand, we can control our own destiny.
[00:03:54] And, uh, and so they bet the farm on making, taking all the know-how of, [00:04:00] of, uh, a couple of decades of, of making socks and said, let's make the best quality socks that we can I on the market and let's get guaranteed them for life. And so in 2004, uh, they, they did that. They essentially bet the farm on 3,500 pairs of running socks that they gave away in the Burlington Vermont marathon.
[00:04:26] And, uh, the rest is history here. Now, today, [00:04:30] I think that, I think in 2004, it was about 35 employees. And today we're, uh, just over 400 and, um, and now, you know, selling into over 25 countries, Oh, my
[00:04:43] Wendy: gosh. That's fantastic. So you're selling into 25 countries. So, so from 2004, when did you start your international journey?
[00:04:56] Joe: So I I've only been here about five years. Um, [00:05:00] and about maybe five years before that, uh, we have a great story from our Japanese distribution team. They kind of walked into the mill one day and wanting to sell our socks in Japan. Uh, and so that was kind of the beginning of it, but there was no business strategy to it.
[00:05:21] We just accepted some orders and sent socks across to the other side of the world. Um, how did they, you. [00:05:30] Uh, so they dealt with some other us brands and I think they were introduced by some of our us sales reps that were selling a similar footwear and maybe some similar clothing and, uh, were told to come check us out.
[00:05:44] Wendy: Oh, how fascinating. So it was just a lucky introduction and they go up to way Northern Vermont and say, this is cool. We need this in Japan.
[00:05:54] Joe: Yeah. And so, um, and so then, you know, there was some export sales [00:06:00] to Canada introduced to few years after that, which makes sense based on our proximity. And, uh, and so those two teams we still work with today.
[00:06:09] And then, um, like I said, about five years ago when I started the, the plan was to start to really build our brand in the global setting. And, and, uh, so that's when we started putting some strategy to it and, uh, focus and that meant gearing up for trade shows and, um, checking to [00:06:30] make sure compliance issues.
[00:06:31] I mean, the list goes on and on of everything you need to do to check off, to start selling internationally. Uh, so, so that's, that was kind of how it started and, and today we're, we're thriving.
[00:06:46] Wendy: All right. So there let's unpack that. Okay. So they were just in Japan and then, then Canada, because of proximity, right.
[00:06:55] And then they say, huh, there's a huge opportunity to go international. So we're going to, we're going to [00:07:00] hire this guy that has some international experience to come in and put a strategy.
[00:07:05] Joe: A little bit. I actually, I was actually hired on the U S side. Um, but then my boss's boss kind of through some conversations, learned that, uh, I spoke a couple of languages.
[00:07:18] I love to travel. Um, so that was, that was how that kind of, I got, um, asked if I wanted to start to work into that setting and help build [00:07:30] an international.
[00:07:32] Wendy: So you're working for the company and the bosses realized they've got this hidden talent in you, that you could, you have this international, you know, background that you could help grow the company.
[00:07:45] Um, how did you go about doing that in developing a strategy? Cause I think there's a lot of companies that are in the U S. Yeah. We'd like to do that, but that's a big, scary process. So what were the steps that you took a darn tough to do? [00:08:00] Sure.
[00:08:00] Joe: It's great question, Wendy. How many hours do we have
[00:08:06] taken away? I mean, it, you know, at a high level, it's a, there's a whole bunch of, uh, due diligence to be done. I mean, granted, we focus our efforts on the outdoor industry, so, uh, there's, there are a lot of successful brands that have done this before us. Right. And so, um, we, [00:08:30] we do a lot of research into how they did it.
[00:08:32] Um, start a lot of conversations. So I got introduced to a lot of. VPs of sales to a variety of other outdoor companies talk to their counterparts in Europe. And, um, you know, I think it's a tight knit network and style. I would recommend that to anybody.
[00:08:49] Wendy: The company is like, how did you, what, what companies were you talking to?
[00:08:55] Joe: So we were talking to like, uh, Osprey packs. They make a really great [00:09:00] backpacks for the outdoor industry. And, um, and obviously being in selling socks, we talked to a lot of footwear brands, uh, because that's also, it's a complimentary product. So we have a lot of friends in that industry that we don't compete with.
[00:09:17] Uh, you know, for sure we even talked to footwear brands to get footwear for our photo shoots. So it's, it's leveraging your, your network of friends. Um, and, and you have to know your competition. You got to see what your [00:09:30] competition is doing on in all of these kinds. So that's, that's the start at the high level.
[00:09:36] Uh, and then you obviously have to decide on investment on, on your side, how much you're willing to invest. It's going to take time. It's going to take money. Uh, there are some risks. Um, you know, I, uh, I would also recommend reaching out to your local
[00:09:57] chambers of commerce, uh, [00:10:00] the department of commerce, which is a federal division that they have local representatives that can help you out, get you connected and talking to people. They could do a lot of legwork for you upfront to, to help you out. And I will admit that's something that we don't take enough advantage of.
[00:10:16] Wendy: Yeah, that's good to know. I was just talking to a representative from the department of commerce and they have put together a whole e-commerce support system. So they're, their supports are fantastic.
[00:10:27] Joe: Absolutely. And it should be noted. There's a lot of [00:10:30] grants to go after for that too. And again, I fully admit we, you know, it's a time and bandwidth thing and, uh, you're so you're, you're chasing leads and new business and you're growing hopefully.
[00:10:44] And so then the, sometimes it's a lot of paperwork pushing to get some grants, but your state has grants for you too, that can be made available and offset translation costs, uh, trade show, um, trade show costs gets you introduced to [00:11:00] people at those foreign trade shows. So these, those are all things that I highly rated.
[00:11:05] Wendy: Yes. And if anybody's interested, you can go to the Rapport International website, which is Rapport, translations.com and look for the little search engine on top and search grants. And it'll take you directly to the context of the states, uh, to find out more about it, or you can reach out to me and I can help you.
[00:11:26] So I'm so glad that you brought that up because oftentimes the states [00:11:30] don't even give the money out because they don't have enough applicants for it.
[00:11:36] Joe: Yeah. I've recently learned that in Vermont, there's only a handful of businesses truly taking advantage of these services. And granted Vermont is the second least populous state in the country, but still, you know, there are businesses.
[00:11:51] Wendy: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And there's a very active, uh, trade representative there too. Or trade support. [00:12:00] So it's
[00:12:01] Joe: doing yeah. And being, you know, like we said, the proximity to Canada, I know that there's a lot of, um, Quebec to Vermont trade. And so there's like you said, there's a lot of trade representatives to help with that.
[00:12:14] And, and in this case, you know, we can't with come back, you have to look at translations and things like that too, to keep in mind.
[00:12:22] Wendy: Yeah. So tell me more about translation. How did you. Uh, dis well, okay, so you were in [00:12:30] two countries before we get into that. You were in two countries five years ago, they put you more on that.
[00:12:34] You start your due diligence and you look at the outdoor industry and, and, you know, complimentary products and your friends that you have in the industry. So I think that's a good idea. The second thing you said was to look at your competition, so you don't have to name them here, but when you looked at your competition, what, um, what were you looking for?
[00:12:57] Like, what were some of the questions you were trying to see? [00:13:00] And what did you find?
[00:13:02] Joe: Well, one of the major things, you know, one of our major competitors has been, uh, exporting for 10 years more than we have, maybe even longer than that. So they have a pretty strong presence in most of the countries that we're now targeting.
[00:13:16] And they're our largest competitor here in the U S as well. So, um, you know, it's, we're looking to see what they're doing, what they're doing, right? Maybe what they're doing wrong, learn from some of their mistakes, your, your everybody's gonna make some mistakes [00:13:30] in this process. It's, there's no, uh, you know, there are guidebooks, I guess, but, uh, it's not a one size fits all.
[00:13:38] So I think you're, you're looking to see where they have success, because it's likely that if you have a similar product, then you can also succeed. Uh, and so we walk into key retailers in foreign countries and we tell them we want to be their prominent us, uh, brand and specialty socks. Uh, [00:14:00] And then I have, I have a high regard for the local brands and all the other countries too, because a lot of retailers, they want to keep there.
[00:14:06] There's other local competition and you know, that's fine, but there, they make a good product, but, uh, you know, we want to come in and be the premium us product and tell our
[00:14:19] Wendy: story. Okay. So made in the U S is a really
[00:14:24] Joe: big deal. It resonates for sure.
[00:14:27] Wendy: Okay. Right. So made in the U S is [00:14:30] not just a thing that's in the U S but around the world, looking for that made in the U S premium brand.
[00:14:36] Yeah. Okay. So that's really interesting. So you looked for the markets, they were having success in. And figured you could have success. So that was a draw, not picking someplace else that they might not have a presence and try to win that market.
[00:14:52] Joe: I mean, it's, it's a little bit of both, you know, I'm also, I have, uh, I have a different opinion from my boss.
[00:14:59] [00:15:00] Uh, you know, I'm, uh, and maybe I'll get in trouble for saying this it's recorded. It'll be official now. But, um, you know, I feel that every day that we're not in a market, that's an opportunity for our competitor to be there. And, uh, whereas, you know, I'm encouraged to, to take one step back and be a little more strategic in how we place ourselves into markets.
[00:15:26] Um, you know, I, I feel that we've gotten ourselves into most of the primary market and [00:15:30] the primary markets. Um, but there's, there's smaller markets. I'm not allowed to touch yet. Um, and, and again, I just feel that any day we're not there. It's, it's another competitor's product being sold there instead of our own.
[00:15:49] Wendy: Yes, that's it. That's an interesting one is let's go, let's go wide or let's go deep. Yeah. That's a, that's a continual con question for
[00:15:59] Joe: company. [00:16:00] Yeah. Narrow and deep is, is, is, you know, keeps the focus. Um, but, and, and the other piece to this too, is, you know, you're chasing, uh, well, in our case, we're chasing markets where there's a population that is worthwhile.
[00:16:16] Um, we're chasing larger outdoor markets too, you know, we're, um, we're not necessarily going after big urbanized regions. Uh, but you know, [00:16:30] I think the, one of the big takeaways to. You know, Europe has twice, the population is the us and, and that's, and that's really concentrated into two countries. Two, you have Germany, which is the size of California and, uh, and the UK, which is that size of Alabama, I think.
[00:16:50] And so, you know, those two countries are half of your consumer buying power in Europe. So those, those are also pivotal pieces to your growth, I think, is, is [00:17:00] to really focus, um, where it's going to matter the most, it it's the lower hanging fruit. And that's where my boss would tell me, don't go after the country that has 500,000 people.
[00:17:12] And, um, you know, we'll sell 50 pairs of socks. I, you know, so it's, it's a, it's about.
[00:17:22] Wendy: So it's looking at the numbers. I had never realized that Europe had twice the population in much [00:17:30] smaller, I guess I did, but I never put the numbers around it because if you look at the train system, you know, it's a smaller geography, more people.
[00:17:40] So they've got much better trains, but in the U S it's harder because you're crossing more distance to get to the people. But I never put the numbers around that.
[00:17:50] Joe: Europe's about 750 million last time. I kind of looked at those numbers and, and it's more, more densely populated too. And so, you know, [00:18:00] for instance, and then when you take a country by country, And even more specifically recently with like in the UK with Brexit.
[00:18:07] Um, and we had to kind of relook at how some of that business was happening there and, um, tariff implications and things like that to which don't affect us directly, but affect our distributors. Um, but you know, the UK is a great example of 50 million people or so, but in a very small geographic area. So [00:18:30] like medium postage takes a couple of days to get from north to south.
[00:18:35] And, you know, that's, that's a benefit for the retailer, for the consumer. It makes distribution much easier than say even here in the U S going east coast to west coast,
[00:18:48] Wendy: right? Yes. That is a benefit. And the, yeah. And then you're also talking about the UK in Germany, where you have a lot of people that are interested in outdoor activities and hiking and, and that [00:19:00] makes a difference too.
[00:19:01] Yeah. Okay. So, so we talked about due diligence, w you know, on the strategy plan, look at the competition, look at the market you're going into. So you went from two markets to 25, which were the first markets that you picked to enter after Japan and
[00:19:19] Joe: Canada. So, um, we were looking at a lot of Europe, um, mainland Europe, for sure.
[00:19:27] And again comes down to population [00:19:30] density, and you've got some great outdoor markets, the Alps, and, uh, great skiing. And, um, and it's a lot of outdoors and hiking. So, and a lot of great shoe brands come out of Northern Italy for, for outdoor. So, you know, that we feel that we can follow that trajectory of, of, uh, product sales.
[00:19:52] And then Scandinavia was that Scandinavia has a huge outdoor market. And I mean, their whole, I feel like their whole culture [00:20:00] is focused on. Being outdoors. Uh, you know, I think you,
[00:20:08] you know, it really means get outside with your flask of, uh, bourbon or lack of eat in that case, in their case. And, uh, you know, and just be with one with nature. So it felt like we aligned really nicely with that.
[00:20:23] Wendy: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So go ahead and define what here is. If nobody's heard of
[00:20:28] Joe: that before. Uh, it's [00:20:30] just comfort and, uh, and coziness, and I guess I'll give a shameless plug here.
[00:20:36] It means a really cozy pair of socks and, and being, uh, being like I said, one with.
[00:20:43] Wendy: At one with nature, I've heard it. You're, you know, you're one with your book in front of the fireplace and your cozy socks.
[00:20:50] Joe: Yeah. Good friends surround you have good company, have some good food personally. It aligns really well with my ethos.[00:21:00]
[00:21:00] Yes, it sure
[00:21:01] Wendy: does. It sure does. Yeah. I learned that in our pre-call that you're from New York and you moved up to Northern Vermont, New York city, right? Yeah,
[00:21:09] Joe: that's right. It's big, very drastic difference. But I've, I fell in love with the green mountains of Vermont and the hiking and. I, I couldn't go back to New York city.
[00:21:18] Now, wait a minute.
[00:21:19] Wendy: And also the biking on your LinkedIn profile, it says you are a psychopath, C Y C O, and a bike go Hollick.[00:21:30]
[00:21:32] So, yes. Going from New York to remind you, get the Higgins,
[00:21:37] Joe: I think after you run and you bike into enough taxis in New York, you try to find a little more solitude on the roads of Vermont.
[00:21:46] Wendy: Yes. Yes. That is one of the, uh, bike and capitols of the us. Okay. So you went mainland Europe and then, uh, Scandinavia.
[00:21:58] Joe: Uh, and then we expanded [00:22:00] through Asia, which Asia has huge appreciation for made in USA products, uh, and the quality. And, um, so the distribution teams that we work with they're, they, you know, having a product that's guaranteed for life, like ours is actually not new to them. They do that with some other, uh, great apparel brands.
[00:22:19] So, um, it just tastes really nice. So we've got some amazing teams over there as well. So like Tai Taiwan, uh, and South Korea. [00:22:30]
[00:22:30] Wendy: Okay. And so does that put you up to 25 or was there another area?
[00:22:36] Joe: Well, so we do a little bit in south America as well. Um, honestly it hasn't been a huge focus for us yet. I there's a lot to learn about that market.
[00:22:48] An interesting piece too, is just, um, taking in the culture of all these. And when I'm, when I say that, I mean, Business expectations are different. Like, you know, here in the U [00:23:00] S we want to a lawyer up and have contracts. And when you go and put a contract on a potential partners table in Europe, they, they look at you like, you're crazy, you know, they're happy to have a handshake and, uh, you know, your word is good.
[00:23:19] Um, but, and so it's kind of, we have to coach both ways that we do it for, uh, for a multitude of reasons. And I, instead of [00:23:30] calling a contract, we'll call it an agreement and. No. I pitched that as a, as a kind of some business expectations. And, and I also position is that if I, uh, well, if I get fired for saying something bad on a podcast, um, and somebody else comes in to take my spot that at least they there's some expectations between the two parties that they can carry going forward.
[00:23:56] Um, but you know, that's that, that's just one example [00:24:00] of cultural differences. And I, like I said, I took the south America Pease. I don't know a lot about the south American business style. Uh, I sure learned a lot about the various European styles, which may vary country to country and the Asian business styles too.
[00:24:18] That's all, that's really interesting as I definitely one of my favorite parts of the job, I think, how do you
[00:24:24] Wendy: figure that out? Because. You've been successful in doing [00:24:30] that and figuring out how to do business in all the countries that you're in already. You've had to do that. So now that you're, you know, what have you done?
[00:24:37] That's been successful and figuring that
[00:24:41] Joe: out. Oh. And figuring that out. Some of it's luck, some of it's making a fool letter yourself and, uh, with a group of people, uh, I always come back to this, this funny, uh, you know, how you, you know, you might toast with a cheers and, you [00:25:00] know, the, the, a lot of times the dinners after a successful meeting are where you do more business than the conference room at a con I think this one time in, in Taiwan, in particular, I didn't know the rituals of the toast and.
[00:25:17] You basically, they want to see the foreigner, um, basically drunk and under the table and, and, you know, they almost, their, their company has like the designated drinker [00:25:30] and a, and I'm going to, I'm going to butcher it, but you know, they, they fill your glass. And when somebody looks at you and says, come by, uh, you have to bottoms up and, and it means dry cups.
[00:25:42] So you have to drink the whole thing. And when you're not looking everybody there and it's, you know, I was out, I was outnumbered, um, like one to eight. And when you're not looking, they're filling your cup and it's, and it's an almost disrespectful not to. [00:26:00] Drink, um, unless you really state that ahead of time.
[00:26:03] So like I said, I embarrass myself, um, and that was at lunch and we had to go, you know, go do more work for the rest of the
[00:26:13] Wendy: day. You got smashed at lunch.
[00:26:17] Joe: Uh, I will not confirm or deny.
[00:26:25] Wendy: Did you, were you even able to go back and be productive a lot
[00:26:29] Joe: AFT in the [00:26:30] afternoon? I was fortunately we'll call it years of training, but, um, also, like I just remember drinking so much water and we had. So it was trying to just dilute everything inside. And then we had to drive two hours south to, uh, to Tai Chung if I remember correctly.
[00:26:47] And I just remember having to stop every 10 minutes and to, to pee. And it was, you know, it's like, it's such a memorable experience, you know, and the team, [00:27:00] every time I see them, you know, I bonded with, with, uh, the whole team that day. And, and it, uh, Sales and businesses trust and trust in relationships. Um, so it's, that's, like I said, the culture learn the culture before you go.
[00:27:20] Wendy: Great. So now that you know that situation, is there anything that you could have done to avoid having the gumbo bay, gum bay, uh, [00:27:30] and having to over-drink to get them to, you know,
[00:27:33] Joe: trust you? Uh, maybe wait till dinner, time to go for your mere meeting, lunch, your, your meeting meal.
[00:27:43] Wendy: Okay. So you can go home and sleep and it's not middle of the day, but there's nothing you can do when they're pouring the alcohol for you.
[00:27:50] Joe: I don't think so. Luckily it was a, it was beer, but I, I. But they would also do the same with some heavier stuff. So I think I, I got, I got out to [00:28:00] get out easy then.
[00:28:01] Wendy: Oh, that is so funny. Well, it's not unusual. There was an earlier podcast that we did, um, with the same experience in Vietnam. Yeah. I think it was Vietnam.
[00:28:16] And then the other one that was really interesting as if, uh, an earlier episode on the podcast was singing Vanessa singing, dog vanilla. He's done his whole, uh, business with . [00:28:30] And he's, he's creating vanilla in Indonesia and then distributing all over the place. He's in whole foods and he's like, no, I don't do contracts.
[00:28:38] That's great. Which is, yeah. So interesting. But it is, what I've found is, is it's an agreement. It helps you talk about things you might not have thought of when you're, you're drafting that up.
[00:28:51] Joe: Yeah, for sure. And like I said, it's, I, it just kinda, I think sets a tone, but I think you do have to, you know, in the U S if somebody says, no, [00:29:00] I'm not signing a contract, you'd be instantly be wary, but it's a different situation.
[00:29:06] And in Europe and Asia, so it seems to have to be prepared for that.
[00:29:10] Wendy: Right. Right. And how you, and so even, even, uh, a word, like calling it an agreement rather than a contract, right. Can make a huge difference. Okay. So, so with the strategy, you talked about due diligence, looking at the competition, and then the investment, you said that it [00:29:30] takes time and money.
[00:29:31] And I know that one thing that people don't allow enough, uh, is have time to be successful. Can you talk more about that investment and what that, how you looked at it,
[00:29:44] Joe: how it played out? Sure. Yeah. I mean, the biggest thing I think to keep in mind is. You're building long-term relationships with this and it's, there's not a short-term payoff.
[00:29:54] I mean, sure. Some people will have a short term payoff and instant success, [00:30:00] but it does take a lot of work. You have to roll up your sleeves. There's going to be a long days, you know, you, you want to meet the customer where they're at. So I, you know, I come in for 4:00 AM, zoom calls with Asia all the time, uh, or I'm staying until 11 o'clock at night for, for zoom calls because I wanted it to be convenient for our customer.
[00:30:23] Um, and it anonymously and nowadays, I mean, I, I, haven't traveled now in almost two years, [00:30:30] uh, and coming in to the office for 4:00 AM. Zoom call is ways there then flying 18 hours to Taiwan. Right? I mean, I miss I have, don't get me wrong. I miss seeing the team and can't wait to see all of our teams again.
[00:30:44] Um, but you know, we've done a lot with, uh, With being, not on virtual virtual calls. Um, but yeah, I guess to just expand on that, you know, long-term relationships, um, you [00:31:00] want to set appropriate expectations for both sides. If, you know, if I'm taking my, my business plan, I need to run it up the ladder here at our company and, and set expectations that it's going to take a long time, because it might take longer as an, as bringing a new brand into a new market where they've never heard of you.
[00:31:23] Uh, they may not even be able to pronounce your company name properly. You know, that's a tough one. [00:31:30] Uh, and so it does take a lot of time as opposed to in the U S you know, we could probably walk, continue to retailer. They, if they don't sell us, they probably know who we are. Doesn't take a lot of, as it doesn't take as much convincing.
[00:31:46] Wendy: And so when you say it's going to take a long time, are you talking months, years? Like, how's that what what's, what have you seen?
[00:31:55] Joe: I had planned for years, uh, you know, it's [00:32:00] in our case, it's, um, it, it could take a couple of years to, to get, you know, we have, uh, about 250 different styles that we sell and it could take a year and a half, two years just to understand what that market wants from, from our, our lineup.
[00:32:19] And we could provide them, uh, our best sellers list. Um, but it, it, you know, the, like the socks that we sell in Norway compared to the socks we sell in to [00:32:30] their neighbor in Sweden are very different. Norway goes after a way more colorful and, uh, Sweden goes after a little bit more muted and. I didn't know that going into it.
[00:32:42] So like, you know, we could've steered our distributors the wrong way and had them load up on a bunch of stuff they couldn't sell. So that's where it's, you have to really plan on a slow roll and keep the focus and, um, and just be available to answer questions at all hours. [00:33:00]
[00:33:00] Wendy: That is fascinating to me. I would not, I wouldn't have guessed that it would be that difference between Norway and Sweden, I would have expected high quality.
[00:33:11] And then if you told me pick which one would want more colors, I would've guessed Sweden. So that is so interesting. How did you even figure that out through the distributors?
[00:33:19] Joe: Yeah. Through distributors or, you know, meeting taking the time we'd go meet with key accounts, which is definitely one of my that's what that's, what I really enjoy doing is [00:33:30] meeting the buyers and helping the distributors to sell.
[00:33:35] And. And so you have to trust that the buyers know what their consumers want, what they're, you know, the people walking into their stores will want. And it's so interesting to, you know, like a one day be showing one part of our catalog and then the next day being in a different country and we're, and we're focusing on a different part of the catalog and it's just, uh, it unexpected to me, for sure.
[00:33:56] Wendy: Right. And with 250, it's not like you're going [00:34:00] through and showing them every one and see, you've got to narrow it down and understand that enough to, to point them to something that they go, oh yeah, I'm really interested. So that's why it takes time. It's just, you've just got to meet with the people, right?
[00:34:12] Yeah. And how has that changed doing it virtually, can you show them or do they need to touch and
[00:34:17] Joe: feel touch and feel as nice? And, you know, we can, uh, luckily we were not selling like big, heavy engine blocks or anything. We, you know, we can send over. Boxes with [00:34:30] some socks for them to touch and feel. So that makes it a lot easier, but, uh, we've set up a pretty nice zoom room here, uh, that we call it to put, uh, our product on, uh, you know, it's well lit has a light box and a 3d spinner.
[00:34:46] And the feedback we've gotten is that that was way better and sell it in than a lot of our competition holding a sock up in front of their laptop camera for, um, trying to show the newest designs. So that's another [00:35:00] piece, you know, I definitely recommend spending the time to get either a good photos of your product, high Rez, so you can have it, um, and take the time to build out presentation decks or, um, you know, set up some cameras and some lighting.
[00:35:14] I mean, I, we did it on a shoestring budget, but it works really. That is
[00:35:20] Wendy: great advice is you've got to put yourself forward in the best light. And so you were able to, to figure out something or how are we going to make them show really well? And it [00:35:30] looks really high, high class. That's fantastic. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:35:34] All right. So you mentioned, um, okay, so time, so investment, we went through time now, budgeting, and of course this is going to be different for every company, depending on, you know, what kind of products they have and how it's sending, but how, how did you go about thinking about investment, like selling to new places in us, you know, the Norwegian [00:36:00] market versus the, uh, Taiwanese market.
[00:36:03] Like how would you even think about budgeting for that?
[00:36:08] Joe: One thing that, again, like I said, it's, it's socks, so it's easy that we can get socks on people's feet and that's, uh, not a tremendous cost in the grand scheme of things certainly is less expensive than, than, uh, airfares and hotels and all that. Um, so that's, that's, [00:36:30] that's the number one piece is just get product on people's feet.
[00:36:34] Um, cause we're, we've found that people get pre are pretty loyal to our brand and, and we obviously feel that we make a, have a superior product. So we feel that it sells itself in that regard and, and our us teams have had success doing the same before we started doing this internationally. So it's, uh, that's helped us for sure.
[00:36:59] Um, [00:37:00] eh, you have to have some faith in your product. As well in confidence.
[00:37:09] Wendy: Well, I think that's for anybody in sales and marketing, you got to have faith and confidence in your product, or you better get another job. Yeah. And so is it, is the budgeting, like the financial side and the investment of the cost?
[00:37:26] Is it similar to launching, like from Vermont [00:37:30] to California or are there additional costs for going international?
[00:37:35] Joe: It's there are definitely additional costs. Um, like I said, uh, probably the one piece was that the legal side of things, even though people don't necessarily want agreements, you know, we're, we're going to have agreements in place.
[00:37:48] So. I know getting started. We spent a ton with attorneys getting, making sure that we were, uh, protected, uh, and speaking of protection, you want [00:38:00] to think about trademark protections, uh, in foreign countries to, to trademark your, how to protect your intellectual property, if you have it. Um, the Madrid protocol is, uh, is definitely, if you haven't heard of that, or if your listeners haven't heard of that, look into that.
[00:38:19] Wendy: I don't know what that is.
[00:38:20] Joe: What is that that protects you? And, um, it's, it's basically gets your trademark registered in. I'm gonna say [00:38:30] over a hundred countries. Uh, so it takes care of most of where you want to at least get yourself covered your trademarks covered initially. Oh, that's great to know. Yeah.
[00:38:42] Wendy: Okay. I'll have to do more research on that too. Cause I didn't know about it. That's
[00:38:47] Joe: a good one. Uh, regulatory compliance, you know, it depends on what you're selling. You have to make sure, I mean, we, we have very little, uh, with any, we have very few issues there. [00:39:00] Um, we don't, you know, it comes down to some, maybe some packaging compliance depends on what you're looking at country to country.
[00:39:09] So there's upfront costs in that to make sure that you're compliant, your packaging meets the consumer needs, trademarks are covered. So those, those costs can add up. And I would say, you know, we did that very gradually as we were kind of warming up the, uh, the system for this, uh, and then, [00:39:30] you know, plan on some consultants, um, where, you know, I still feel we're in our infancy too, with this in five years in, um, I'm just really starting to get a grasp of all the foreign tariffs because we're looking our next step is, uh, is e-commerce expansion.
[00:39:47] So the direct to consumer business, a multitude of countries. And so suddenly we would have a tax liability in all of these countries. So you've got VAT, GST HST up in [00:40:00] Canada, uh, TVM, MVA, IVA, WTF, you know, there's all these crazy, uh, tariffs that we'd have to register for and pay. Hey soon. Yes, I will
[00:40:19] Wendy: introduce you to my contact at the department of commerce, who is the commerce expert, and they have all sorts of resources and help on that.
[00:40:27] So after the show, I'll make sure [00:40:30] and introduce you. And if anybody listening is, is in the U S and wants help on that, I can reach out to me. Um, and I'll introduce you to them because I just learned about the program and it's fantastic. And they work with all the different states on that.
[00:40:44] Joe: That'd be fantastic.
[00:40:46] Wendy: Okay. So you mentioned earlier branding and, um, and translation. And I want to get into that because that will particularly affect you with, you know, if you're [00:41:00] going direct to consumer, but I'm sure you've run into it already. Branding. How have you handled the, um, darn tough name? Well,
[00:41:13] Joe: so it's, I guess, first off, I just have to, you know, it's a play on words for us.
[00:41:17] There's a darning, which is an old fashioned repair of, of, uh, knit garments. You socks in particular. And then, um, and it's also a Testament to the darn tough [00:41:30] times that the kava family was going through at the beginning. So it it's, it's all in there, but yeah, it doesn't, it doesn't translate to a bunch of countries.
[00:41:39] Uh, we kind of, we joke, um, you know, with our UK team that we could translate it as quite durable. Uh, but we're, we're sticking with, I mean, darn tough Vermont, we keep Vermont is, is definitely part of our branding too. So, um, so we keep it that, but I've heard all sorts of iterations in, in [00:42:00] Germany. Um, I probably shouldn't say them all, but there's, they're all out there.
[00:42:05] We've heard a lot of variations and people don't know necessarily what it means. So that's something to be cognizant of if you're starting a new brand, um, you know, look it up, look up the names, the words you might use. Uh, there's a lot of idioms in English that don't translate there's um, you know, I always run our product names, our newest product names past our [00:42:30] distributors every season.
[00:42:31] Uh, I like to give the example of, you know, the word mist might invoke like a whimsical, uh, lifestyle, SOC design. Um, but in German it means manure. So, so we can't, you know, we can't have a Shay sock. It
[00:42:56] that's just something to keep in mind as in I'm sure. You know, you're no [00:43:00] stranger to that in the translation worlds. So. But these are all the little things you have to keep in mind when you're working to expand globally.
[00:43:09] Wendy: I had heard that about Ms before, but I I've never heard it direct with the products are shitty.
[00:43:15] SOC is hysterical, but yeah, that is something. Now, do you translate or do you keep it in English? Like darn Tufts stays darn tough across all the
[00:43:25] Joe: countries. It stays in English and, uh, because that's the brand [00:43:30] name so we can, we can get away with that. Um, but certain countries like Canada, if we have any, uh, online exposure there, it has to be equal prominence French in English, um, to comply and in Quebec.
[00:43:46] So it's just something. So like our product packaging. French and Spanish on it. Um, and then I would tell you, you're like, I get pressure from our German team. They'd like to see German on there. [00:44:00] Um, you know, and it, it's, it's an interesting thing to it. Like in Germany, everything gets translated. A lot of Germans don't necessarily speak a lot of English.
[00:44:12] They usually speak more English than I speak German. So I'm always appreciative of that. But, um, but then you go to say, go north into Scandinavian countries. They're much smaller countries and everybody speaks English because, so I've, I've been told a lot of it is that, you know, a country like Norway [00:44:30] as 5 million people, Sweden is 10 million.
[00:44:32] Um, it's not enough to dub movies into their native language. Uh, so I was that, uh, I was at a bar in Stockholm once and the waiter sounded Americans. I was like, oh, are you from the U S. And he just looks at me. He's like, nah, man, I love us movies. And I was like, that's fantastic. You know, then you go to Germany and there's 80 million people and all the movies are dubbed into [00:45:00] German.
[00:45:00] So like I go to a man, a German hotel and I'm watching the Terminator and in German. So, you know, it's, so that's where, like I said, that's where I think we get pressure from the German side to get German on the packaging. And I think we've got a long way to go and in volume before we can really justify that.
[00:45:21] So it's, um, but it, so that puts it on our map. You know, it puts it in our, our future planning of how do we fit multitude of languages on a very [00:45:30] small package.
[00:45:31] Wendy: That's fascinating to me. So you're selling it all, all the packaging is in English. Right,
[00:45:39] Joe: right. But anyway, I'm
[00:45:43] Wendy: sorry. Go ahead. Yeah. And you're waiting to, so it's the chicken or the egg, you're waiting to get enough of a volume to translate yet.
[00:45:50] The return on investment by doing a little translation may increase your sales quite a bit.
[00:45:56] Joe: It to exactly chicken or the egg it's. Um, [00:46:00] it, yeah, so, you know, we, we can, uh, dabble with doing some relabeling labeling for Germany, which we do, but it's that adds time and costs to our efforts. So it's not, it's not ideal.
[00:46:12] So like I said, it's, it's on our roadmap. And, um, and so as we become more mature in the foreign markets, uh, you know, our export sales right now are, are it depending on the season, like 12 to 16% of our, our B2B business. And so I [00:46:30] think we just really need to get to a little bit higher place before we can justify some, some additional costs.
[00:46:36] Wendy: Okay. And what do you like, what's your vision of what percent your international sales will be?
[00:46:45] Joe: Well, that's a tough question, you know, it's, it's, uh, I'm always astonished when I hear of a company that's 50 or 60% export. Um, that's it. I don't have an answer for that. What, uh, what I always say though, is, is, you know, it's really good to have a [00:47:00] diversified portfolio.
[00:47:01] You know, you've learned that in business and investing and it's, it's no different in this case, um, to, you know, some, when there's, uh, one market may be slumping, hopefully you have an export market that might be thriving and that kind of. Your your overall numbers steady or growing, as opposed to, if you're exclusively a U S business, if there's a slump in the U S market or a recession, you know, you're going to feel that more [00:47:30] heavily.
[00:47:31] So that's, that's my advice.
[00:47:34] Wendy: That's fantastic advice. That is, I mean, so well said, and that's the number one reason why I say people should export because of that. Yeah. And so now on your website, you don't have any translation?
[00:47:48] Joe: No. So like I said, we're in our infancy. Um, you know, we're, we're, uh we're so we're not selling outside of the U S on our website yet,
[00:47:58] Wendy: but that's part of [00:48:00] the e-commerce plan that are working on.
[00:48:02] Okay. Yeah. And then what about the packaging in like the Asian countries?
[00:48:09] Joe: So I know it's a fantastic question. Uh, I know that our Japanese distributor. Um, puts a, uh, basically a sticker over the entire back of our packaging. So they cover all of our copy and artwork and they basically replicate the artwork and, uh, they have, it's all Japanese and I found in [00:48:30] traveling in Japan, many people do not speak English.
[00:48:32] So in fact, when I go there, um, our distributor has a, somebody that can travel around with me and translate, um,
[00:48:41] Wendy: or interpret because interpret is spoken and translation is written people outside of the industry don't know that much, but yes. So that really helps when you're, you're building relationships there.
[00:48:51] For sure. Yeah. And so when you're in Taiwan, it's all in English too.
[00:48:56] Joe: Uh, Taiwan's a little more split, but uh, definitely need [00:49:00] interpretation as well. Oh no, I meant on your packaging. Oh, I'm sorry. Uh, we keep that in English, surprisingly. And now that you've put me on the spot. I don't have a definitive answer as to why, why we do that.
[00:49:16] You're going to have me up all night trying to figure this one out.
[00:49:22] Wendy: This is about the point where I'm pulling my hair out, going, oh my gosh, you can increase those revenues by doing [00:49:30] translation. And some slight packaging changes. You can increase your revenues by so much, but, uh, yeah. It's you also have to make a plan and then do the investment, but the opportunity is there
[00:49:43] Joe: more work to the plate?
[00:49:46] Wendy: I've got lots of ways to simplify that for you.
[00:49:52] Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's so fascinating. So let's talk a little bit about you. I mean, this is so fascinating. You, you [00:50:00] grew up in New York. Tell me about that and how you got to be such an outdoors person and working in. The best sock factory there is.
[00:50:12] Joe: Oh boy, it's a, how I became an outdoor person. I don't know, because I don't even know that it's in my DNA.
[00:50:18] I remember, you know, New York city apartment, San Juan to go camping. And my dad always thought it was crazy. He's like, why would you want to do that? And you've got a place right here, like, you know, go for a walk in central park. And, [00:50:30] and so, yeah, I don't, I don't know where it came from, but I, I do remember, um, when I felt I needed to leave New York.
[00:50:38] Um, and it was, I was after visiting Vermont several times. And, uh, but I, I remember trying to get off the subway one day and everybody is crowding on and I, I just, I couldn't get off. And I remember that's it. Like, I, I need to get out of this place. I need less people around me.
[00:50:57] Wendy: And how old were you at this point?
[00:50:59] Joe: Uh, it was [00:51:00] maybe about 25 or so. Okay.
[00:51:02] Wendy: So through college, back in New York and just go, yeah.
[00:51:06] Joe: Yeah. And it, and um, so in, uh, in all honesty, my, uh, my undergrad degree was in Italian language and culture. So I, I, um, studied Italian. I know all about Dante outta Getty and all that literature. Um, and, and business was, uh, a minor.
[00:51:23] And, uh, I went back later and took a master's in business classes. Um, but I was [00:51:30] basically right out of school, just working wherever I could. Um, but with no clear direction, I, I don't, I, you know, I don't know that I've still, I haven't grown up yet. It's been about 15 years in Vermont and I still don't have a clear direction, but I really do love what I'm doing right now.
[00:51:48] And I plan to be here for awhile, no clear
[00:51:52] Wendy: direction as you've had multiple promotions at darn tough. And you're, you're doing your international business at a steadily growing. [00:52:00] So I, I hate to say, I think you've grown up
[00:52:04] Joe: well. I'm very grateful and, uh, and fortunate, and I definitely acknowledge that.
[00:52:10] Wendy: So, so you told us one great memorable, uh, cross-cultural experience.
[00:52:16] Um, do you have others to share another one?
[00:52:21] Joe: Oh, let's see. It's uh, oh, well we might have, we might see a trend here. It was similar in, [00:52:30] in, um, Scandinavian countries, you know, the cheers. You don't go clinking glasses all altogether. It's a very kind of silent, um, pick up your glass. You're supposed to be only holding it with a certain amount of fingers.
[00:52:45] And, um, you just kind of look at people across the table and nod. And after you've done that you take, uh, a small sip and, um, and then you kind of do a nod around the table all over again. [00:53:00] Whereas, you know, I just go in there and I'm ready to clink glasses, like it's October Fest or something like that. So,
[00:53:12] Wendy: oh, that's too funny right. In the eye contacts really important. Right. Looking at everybody. Yeah,
[00:53:18] Joe: for sure. Uh, you know, and then just trying to kind of fumble my way through, through Germany. I'm sure. Her stat. Uh, I just don't know it. Um, you know, [00:53:30] I learn a lot as, as I go.
[00:53:32] Wendy: Right, right, right. And I think I want to, the thing that's come up all over all the episodes is that you just, you stay curious and you know that you're going to make mistakes, like you said, at the beginning.
[00:53:44] And, but it's developing that trust
[00:53:47] Joe: slowly. Yeah. Yeah. As, as part of like setting, I had mentioned like setting expectations internally, externally, one of those expectations, probably the first one should [00:54:00] be that they, you should expect change, uh, because the best laid plans, don't always pan out the way you have having.
[00:54:09] Wendy: Right. So there does take some flexibility, but it takes a lot of flexibility and dealing across language, culture, and international business. Yeah. And so, but if you just expect change, then that takes you far away.
[00:54:22] Joe: Yeah. So I, I do put that at the top of my list. This may change.[00:54:30]
[00:54:30] Wendy: How about your favorite vacation?
[00:54:33] Joe: Ooh, that's a tough one. I, I really, uh, I love Scotland. I think it's a beautiful part of the world. Uh, I love Norway. Uh, obviously I love Italy. Like, you know, I'm Italian. I, I carry actually a dual passport, so, but I have not had success in selling socks to Italy. And I will tell you, this is like my.[00:55:00]
[00:55:00] If I'm here till retirement, uh, I have to sell socks into Italy, but, uh, Italians are,
[00:55:07] Wendy: uh, w who would be a good introduction for you or what would help you sell socks into Italy? Let's put it out there cause we're listened to in over 40 countries. So there could be somebody from Italy
[00:55:18] Joe: listening. Hear me out.
[00:55:20] Yes. Yes. Uh, you need a darn tough sock. It's uh it's you know, so our knitting machines are [00:55:30] all beautiful Italian knitting machines. And so that really translates to Italians, make beautiful socks as well. Uh, and Italians are very loyal to products from their own country. And I think that's where my hang up is right now.
[00:55:46] Wendy: So are you looking for a distributor? Are you looking for a consumer buyers?
[00:55:52] Joe: Yes to both. I mean, obviously for a distributor to be successful, we would need consumer buyers on the other side. So, uh, it's, [00:56:00] it's a tough one. And I mentioned at the beginning, you know, there's a lot of great outdoor shoe brands that, uh, come out of Northern Italy.
[00:56:07] Uh, we've talked to all of them trying to establish a partnership or some sort of shared sales team. Uh, and it just, it doesn't, it doesn't work. It
[00:56:19] Wendy: doesn't work. Okay. Well, it will work. It hasn't worked yet.
[00:56:27] Right? Well, I'm connected to some business owners [00:56:30] over in Italy, so I'll try to put a word out for you. Great. And what, um, oh, your favorite foreign word. I've got to ask that.
[00:56:48] Joe: Uh, you know, I got to say I'm a little rusty from not traveling and, uh, not being out there. And, and they, you know, it's on one hand, unfortunately, like all our business is done in [00:57:00] English. And then in like, you know, if we have a sales meeting with our teams from Sweden and Norway and Germany and Netherlands and Austria, everybody's going to speak English because they all don't know each other's languages.
[00:57:14] So that I'd have to get back to you on that, you know,
[00:57:20] Wendy: Italian. What's your favorite Italian word or your favorite?
[00:57:25] Joe: Uh, well, okay. Italian is, there's a word. The word marvelous is [00:57:30] and it just sounds, I don't know. I love the way it flows. And actually, I guess, I guess it started to bring back all these, the there's a kid's book, the hungry caterpillar.
[00:57:41] And I remember, and I got that for my daughter and Italian and, you know, the Piccolo Brewco, my Satya, the hunt, the hungry caterpillar, uh, you know, it turns into a, you also follow and then the beautiful butterfly, and those are just, [00:58:00] I love the Italian language is very sing song. And unfortunately I have probably have a bit of a, an American accent on it, but, uh, it is Italian Spanish there, there beautiful languages.
[00:58:12] Oh my
[00:58:12] Wendy: gosh. Well, that is a fantastic word. And I knew once we get a triggered and then it's got this wonderful memory with your daughter with the hungry caterpillar. So, ah, yes, I knew you had a good one in. Yeah. And how about any, um, final advice for [00:58:30] anybody who's taking a product international.
[00:58:34] Joe: Have fun, you know, it's, uh, this, if you're not having fun, then, uh, you're not doing it right.
[00:58:42] And it is going to take hard work. You're going to be up at all sorts of hours, if you really want to meet your customer where they're at. Um, but it, it is about having a lot of fun and it is a very rewarding process when it works out. [00:59:00] And, uh, and hopefully if you're lucky you get to go and travel and visit some amazing cultures and the process, which is like I said, that's my favorite part of all of this is getting to know people and their families and traditions, because that's what makes the world go round.
[00:59:17] Right? That's, that's the beautiful part of the world. The differences that we have. No. Oh my
[00:59:22] Wendy: gosh. You really said that so well. Yeah. Yeah. Um, So where can [00:59:30] people yeah. And we'll end on this, where can people find darn tough socks if they're interested in getting some now?
[00:59:36] Joe: So, uh, we're in over about 2,500 retailers in the U S so there is a store finder and, you know, we'd definitely love all of our, uh, our B2B, uh, support out there.
[00:59:51] That's, that's where this business got its legs was with the support of retailers, local retailers. So, um, you know, go into your [01:00:00] local outdoor store, uh, and hopefully you'll find darn tough on the wall. Uh, if you go to darn tough.com, like I said, there's this, there is a store or finder link, so you can find local locally, who has it.
[01:00:14] And so that's definitely where, and, and that actually we have, um, I think all but a couple of. Uh, international retailers are on that store finder as well. So if you're listening to this, you know, in, in, uh, Norway or the [01:00:30] UK or Japan, uh, you'll, you'll find a local retailer on our store finder there too.
[01:00:36] Wendy: Oh, fantastic.
[01:00:37] All right. And Joe, where can people find you?
[01:00:40] Joe: I guess LinkedIn is a great spot for that. It's uh, just Joe CDOT, international sock guy. Uh, darn tough.
[01:00:50] Wendy: Okay. And no CDOT is N O C I T O. Yes. Thank you. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for being here today. This was, you know, we really did a [01:01:00] deep dive on a lot of questions cause you brought a lot of stuff up.
[01:01:03] And so listeners, I hope you learned something from it. If you know somebody that has a consumer product, um, this is probably a good episode to share with them. So go ahead and do that and remember to give us a five star rating, uh, if you enjoyed it. So thanks so much and we'll be back with you next time.
[01:01:23] That's a wrap for this session. A big thanks to you for listening to the global marketing show. Hope you had [01:01:30] just as much fun as I did. New sessions launched weekly on all places you find podcast, apple, Spotify, Google play. And of course on our website, if you know someone interested in this topic, please tell them about us.
[01:01:42] Oh, well for now,