Axial's Growth 100 : Jon Rydberg

Jon Rydberg

CEO, Orchid Advisors

First to Fire

Jon Rydberg has a diverse executive background having led regulated consumer products and diverse industries. He started his career in the Aerospace & Defense sector working as a defense products program manager and subsequently serving the largest of US corporations while at Ernst & Young and Protiviti Consulting. Prior to his role as CEO of Orchid Advisors, Jon was also the Chief Compliance Officer and VP of Internal Audit at gunmaker Smith & Wesson. It was there that he realized there were no professional services businesses dedicated to the firearms industry.

Particularly in an industry that has the public eye on it at all times, regulatory compliance is always top of mind. In 2012, Jon launched the first management consulting firm dedicated to the industry.  Orchid Advisors helps organizations comply with rapidly changing and complex state and federal legislation and focuses on bringing together both the economic needs and regulatory needs of the businesses they serve. Today his client base manufactures approximately 60% of this top firearm brands and the company has experienced revenue growth of over 100% in a three year period.

Building a Bulletproof Brand

It’s essential Orchid remains neutral when it comes to branding and regulatory status. “We have one thing in mind: industry progress,” says Jon. Rather than winning new clients over with pro-industry rhetoric, Jon says their biggest differentiator to other firms that focus on the industry is their proactive focus. “We teach people how to run their business better and how to incorporate compliance into their daily operation.”

“While other industry services (e.g. law firms or associations) focus on defensive positioning and deploy passive audit techniques, Orchid takes a different approach.

“We hire people from traditional operations consulting backgrounds, data analytics, legal and regulatory agencies. We don’t come at it from one background.” Our strategic differentiator is that, rather than spot checking the past, we can restructure our client’s operations to achieve compliance and financial success. Other firms just aren’t resourced that way, and it represents a significant and material change for the services made available to an evolving industry.”

Another focus on the marketing side has been embracing the technological transformation and data standardization that has been pervasive to supply chains across any industry. Jon is striking partnerships with software providers to develop new tech for the industry at large and to help them optimize the data exchange with government agencies primarily to reduce the audit / inspection risk of the nations Federal Firearms Licensees. Orchid is also developing relationships with trade associations, looking at consumer product data standards, and systematizing the flow of information from manufacturer to distributor to retailer.

Plenty of Powder

While you’d think the market was pretty well defined, Jon shares that there are 60,000 addressable entities including manufacturers, importers, exporters, distributors, retailers, dealers and pawns. New legislation is increasing the volume of new licenses so there is also a fair amount of market entrants.“Those companies need help getting off the growing, establishing compliance and growing their business. Orchid is designed to be the choice when these businesses need help,” says Jon.

Even though Orchid continues to book 100% of their time, and several months in advance, Jon still calls them a start up. “We clearly hold the leadership position when it comes to firearms industry operations and compliance consulting. But, as CEO, it’s up to me to make sure we continue to innovate.” While Orchid has let their first mover position do most of their sales and marketing for them, Jon says this is an area of focus in 2016.

The self-funded company has reinvested most of its profits into R&D. Of what it will take to get them to the next level, Jon says, the biggest challenge will aligning the proper resources with our differentiated position and making sure the entire industry is aware that a transformational service provider is now available.