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Community Highlights: Meet Andrew Gilliland of Action Holdings

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Gilliland. 

Hi Andrew, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’ve always been a creator and a builder. Since my earliest memories, I knew I would pave my own path – and that nobody was going to tell me how my life was going to be. I grew up 20 miles north of Boston MA, which is where I spent the first 18 years of my life. I got my start in eCommerce at age 9. For the last 6 years, I’ve been blessed to live life in the city of Tampa and build my early vision into a multi-million-dollar e-Commerce organization: Action Holdings. While doing this, I’ve led e-Commerce divisions and digital initiatives for a dozen or so other companies. 

The 5-year-old Andrew was extremely curious and intense, a relentless question asker. I channeled this energy into building blocks, dinosaurs, puzzles, and legos. With a bit of concern, my parents quickly got me placed into art classes, team sports, and music to help diversify my creative outlets. There’s one other fascination I had from a very early age, which was with business, money, and understanding how the world worked. 

My mission is to inspire and help others actualize their potential in the world. I keep candor, care, and commitment at the heart of all I do and strive for excellence within my core values of communication, integrity, professionalism, performance, and passion. This serves as a basic framework for relationships and decision-making. Almost 20 years later, the curiosity and intensity that was central to my 5-year-old identity persists in everything I do. 

Here are more specifics and timelines about my professional journey (with a few personal details): 

What really changed the game for me was having access to a computer from the early age of 7. This is when my interest with technology rooted itself. I taught myself everything I could using the computer. 

When I was 8, I built “Let’s Party”, a carnival in my basement. I wasn’t too impressed with my customer base which consisted of my brother, his friends, and my family so I started selling these mini-games over the internet, on “letsparty.com” – a website I created with a site builder. This is when I realized my passion for business and technology. 

At age 10 I created A & J Productions…and realized I really liked working for myself. 

At this time, I also got a computer upgrade, which was a 2007 iMac. I quickly self-taught Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, and how to use the internet for research and marketing. 

This is also where I taught myself the real skills, I needed to be successful in online marketing- I became well versed in video editing in Final Cut Pro and Adobe suite, graphic design in Photoshop, front-end website development, and other technical skills. I needed my parent’s co-sign contracts at the time. Ben Goldberg, now known by Token, is one of the first people I worked with – also when I taught myself to use a green screen (which I set up in my basement). 

Between 10 and 14, I created several other businesses including creating a comic book called “Worm Man” and a Bait Business. I always had people working for me on these different projects. 

At age 14, I launched Snapback Express, my first e-Commerce success, and grew it to $10,000/month 

This brand taught me a lot about the fundamentals of e-commerce, and that with the power of focus that anything was possible. This venture was successful because of a relationship I established with an authorized hat distributor and my ability to market on social media. I remember I had 30–40-year-old men working for me as independent contractors at age 14. They thought I was 21-22. I also had numerous run-ins with people scamming and deceiving. 

This is also when I launched my fitness/health journey, which had a massive impact for me. As a 125-pound high school kid, the gym allowed me to build a certain focus and confidence that helped me go from good to great. 

During my time in high school, I joined forces with countless businesses throughout the Boston area to take their companies online via Shopify, WordPress, and Amazon. From retailers and restaurants to doggie daycare, and more. I also created countless other businesses, including Rave Entertainment (DJ), eYardsale (e-Commerce), Renown (e-Commerce), Product360 (e-Commerce), Flash Art Tees (e-Commerce), Paintball Grenade (e-Commerce). 

After graduating from Marblehead High School in 2015, I moved to Tampa. At age 18, I launched iSpyPens (ispypens.com) in 2016 from my dorm room, and it grew to $25,000/month. During this time, I formulated our a broader e-Commerce strategy focused on owning, operating, and growing e-Commerce assets. 

At age 21, I took on my first executive-level e-Commerce roles through my new management company, Action Holdings, and hired my first employees. I found early success with Indigo Sleep (indigosleep.com), a Direct-to-Consumer mattress brand, and Knapp Made Products (knappmade.com), a kitchenwares brand specializing in cast iron accessories. I was blessed to acquire an interest in Knapp Made and bring the brand under Action Holdings umbrella, taking sales from $180,000 to $800,000 in annual sales. 

At 22, I joined forces with my current business partner, Dan. Dan is the Founder of Signature Athletics (signaturelacrosse.com). I was tasked with leading Signature’s digital D2C transformation. We have built a remarkable 14-person team that is revolutionizing the way that team uniforms are ordered and delivered. 

At 23, Action Holdings completed the acquisition of BBQ-AID (bbqaidtools.com) under its umbrella. We have been able to apply all of our learnings to grow revenues by 60% in year 1. 

At 24, I am focused on taking care our foundation while thinking big about the future. Over the next 10 years, Action Holdings will become a leading acquirer of niche e-Commerce SMBs doing $100K-$1M in annual revenue. Based on our current plan and trajectory, over the next decade we will build a $50M e-Commerce portfolio that leverages the power of e-Commerce to actualize human potential. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It’s been a challenging road, full of obstacles. 

When we got started, things were scrappy…very scrappy. We were self-funded and bootstrapping our own growth. Working for 60 hours per week while completing school was no issue, but I quickly learned that working “hard” only enabled progress to a point. There was no “off” time and my living space was a warehouse, packed to the ceilings. 

This is also when I learned about the power of a team and the proper utilization of our most valuable resources – time and energy – in pursuit of a larger vision. I’ve yet to figure out how to clone myself, but it’s something I am working on. 

Regardless of the number of books you read, courses you take, mentors you meet with, or great advisors you have on your team – as the captain of the ship, it’s on you to make it happen. You make it happen or you don’t. Fortunately, this is a responsibility that has always gotten me excited. Plus, I’ve found that by partnering up with other captains you can share some of the responsibility. 

As my company became more established and successful, the number of opportunities being presented became boundless. This required us to buckle down and know what our core focus would be: owning, operating, and growing D2C e-Commerce companies through a clear omni-channel strategy.

Some of my greatest early business obstacles have fallen within designing and bringing products to market, building and retaining a team, rapidly learning required skills, and developing myself as a leader. What I’ve focused my energy on is building winning momentum with the right team, which has allowed me to keep driving forward in the midst of constant set-backs. Every day brings success and failure, it’s just part of the process. I count my blessings because I’ve received support in more ways than I ever would have imagined and these challenges have made for the most rewarding and exciting experience.

A few of the specific challenges that I’ve experienced involve business partner relationships, capitalizing growth, delegating responsibility, building and managing a supply chain, closing an acquisition through COVID, establishing proper boundaries, integrating personal and professional life, and finishing school. 

One of the other major realizations for me has been that there’s always another level – we don’t suddenly arrive at “success”. I’ve learned about the importance of enjoying the process and the experience of looking at success as a journey rather than a destination. 

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We specialize in growing niche D2C e-Commerce brands that we own and operate. Our team has a deep expertise in e-Commerce, including business management, marketing, customer service, supply chain, and operations. 

Our people are our advantage and keep us constantly improving. 

I’m especially proud of the impact that we have on the those who come in contact with our brands every day including customers, employees, investors, vendors, and partners. 

Our mission is to power the future of digital commerce. We are always reviewing new e-Commerce acquisition opportunities and seeking top e-Commerce talent to join our team! Get in touch with us anytime at inquiry@actionholdings.com. 

What’s next?
I spend a lot of time thinking about the endless possibilities for the future. I’m really excited for about our plans and growth. We are just getting started. 

The internet was a doorway to freedom and impact for me, and I want to create a similar doorway for other people. I believe that business allows us develop ourselves, become better people and better members of our community. 

What I’m mostly looking forward to is maximizing the impact that my company has on people across the world by looking beyond profits to focus on solving 

larger problems for people through e-Commerce. 

In the near term, I’m excited to launch or acquire a brand in an industry that resonates with me on a more personal level, such as health or wellness. In the past, industry has been less relevant to me. It will become much more important as we move forward. 

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