1974 was quite the year – Nixon waved goodbye in the wake of the Watergate Scandal, “The Way We Were” by Barbra Streisand was blasting on every radio, and Leonardo DiCaprio made his grand entrance into the world. Oh, and Simba? Yep, they joined the party too! As Simba gears up to hit the big 5-0 (alongside Leo), I snagged some time with Daniel Moore, Simba’s National Sales Manager. We delved into their origin, some funny stories, a standout milestone, and let me tell you, it’s a tale worth sharing.
So, let’s take it back to the 70s, when Jay Schechter founded Simba. He was 25 years old, and in Long Beach, CA (before they moved up to Ventura County), you can practically envision the red shorts, roller skates, and feathered hair! He had previously worked for his uncle in the trophy business as a traveling sales rep before joining the military. Upon his return from service, he decided that he had enough know-how to start his own company, and Simba was born! At first, he sourced his medallions domestically and sold them in those classic brick-and-mortar trophy retailers. As the business grew, he knew they needed to move their medallion production internationally to meet demand, and soon, the company became a full-fledged enterprise with locations across the U.S.
Since then, they’ve become known, industry-wide, for their quality and creativity, not to mention their world-class service! They’re extremely proud of their reputation – and they should be!
Amidst Simba’s remarkable journey from its founding in the ’70s to its 50th anniversary, the company’s unique culture has played a pivotal role in shaping its success. Simba’s commitment to quality, creativity, and world-class service has been ingrained in its DNA since its inception. The company’s culture reflects a blend of innovation, resilience, and a lot of fun.
Daniel told me a story that got me giggling for the rest of the day – even as I write this! In the late 70s, for reasons that we have not been able to figure out, pumice stone (a volcanic stone that’s great for, apparently, more than exfoliating the bottom of your feet) was a bit hard to come by – and it’s a great tool for sanding and polishing medallions. On one trip to visit their factories in China, the Simba group brought along pumice stones for them to use.
Chinese customs officials were not amused.
They thought they were transporting drugs into the country.
After a few tense moments, they were able to demonstrate to the customs officials that they were for sanding and not illicit activity.
Another notable and more somber story Daniel remembers comes right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Simba sold over 3 million American flag pins in the month following the attack – the single most demand they ever had or have had for an item since. Through the frenzy, working seven days a week with all hands on deck (even the exec staff were assembling pins on the production floor), Simba could not be more proud of the small comfort they were able to provide their customers at a time when they needed it most.
This commitment to both lighthearted ingenuity and meaningful contribution underscores Simba’s enduring company culture, making it a beacon within the industry still today.
Fast forward to 2014, Jay was looking to retire. Being a single father when he founded the company, his son Casey, grew up within the family business. He worked around school and athletics and spent his summers in the warehouse doing all sorts of tasks. By his teens, he was on the road selling! He had a ton of knowledge in the business and was naturally an empathetic and charismatic person so, he passed the torch on to Casey.
Since then, Simba has been aggressive in applying technology in every area of the business – especially with Casey’s keen eye for streamlining processes and better serving their customers.
As Simba embarks on its next chapter under Casey’s leadership, the fusion of tradition and technological advancements promises an exciting future, and we here at SAGE can’t wait to see what the next 50 years of Simba brings!
So, join us in giving them a very big Happy Birthday! (let them know in the comments below!)