Meet the CEO: Peter Messana
Peter Messana may not have planned to become an internet search executive when he started an online canoe company, but such is life. The Searchspring CEO ran Austin Canoe & Kayak for more than 12 years, including for 18 months after he sold the company to Summit Sports. “Search was by far the single most important thing on the site, but it’s also the hardest thing to get right in ecommerce. I’ve understood the value of search for some time now. I actually left that job for another one with a search technology company before I came here.” That experience at the coalface of ecommerce continues to help Peter and Searchspring to deliver solutions to clients now. Not only that but running his own company enabled him to really think about developing the company culture. “If I take it all the way back to my second job at Home Depot, they're customer-centric. So that's where our customer-first focus comes from. I've worked for companies that were very non-transparent and secretive, so I've learned along the way as to the good and the bad.” “I value having trust first. If you don't make trust earned, then you trust everybody, and you can be transparent with them. I think having a lack of transparency is actually a fear of management, of giving away too much information and what might be heard or done with it. But I believe everybody should have the knowledge that's necessary to do their jobs.” Peter believes promoting transparency allows people to learn much quicker. One of his core beliefs is to fail fast and publicly because there is no mistake not worth learning from. “When you’re transparent about your failures, then everybody can learn. So that's really the culture.” Searchspring has grown rapidly in the last few years, roughly doubling its staff to where it now has more than 100 employees across five offices in the US, Canada, Australia, and Poland. For Peter, it’s the realization of his childhood dream to run his own business, but it’s by no means over. “I continue to see more opportunities to grow as we really hone in on the target market, and we're actually still accelerating the growth right now. I don't see any drastic change in our future; we're not going to suddenly pivot to do something else, because what we're doing is working. We'll just figure out how to do it even better, and take care of more ecommerce customers and deliver the value to them that we deliver to our current ones.” For Peter personally, that means continuing to get to the office well before 7am when he feels he can get more done without people around. That passion to get into work stems from the enjoyment he gets from it. He’s one of those people who loves what he does, to the point where he doesn’t really consider it work. “I actually wrote a blog about work-life balance; there's no such thing in my mind. It's not a negative, it's more that I love what I do. But I don't expect that of others, it’s just my approach.” Such is Peter’s love for work that he doesn’t have time for a lot of his old hobbies such as golf, hockey, soccer, or tennis. He spends a lot of his spare time with his children, and is enjoying being able to go mountain biking with his son outside their home in San Antonio.