Gear Patrol is devoted to discovering new products and the stories that surround them—what they call “product journalism.” They produce an award-winning publication, weekly videos, launch events, and daily product reviews, and in 2019 they introduced a conference called Stocked. It brought together the makers, advertisers, and designers behind amazing products, featuring brands like Hill City, OXO, The North Face, and Herman Miller.
Gear Patrol’s Art Director, Joe Tornatzky, works with a 10-person team of creatives who produce photography, video, and design—and at a time when the company would grow from 25 to 50 people in a year, they had no scalable project management tools in place to help.
Poorly defined creative processes and feedback loops made collaboration messy:
Gear Patrol wasn’t alone in this. According to the Anatomy of Work Index, skilled workers spend so much time on coordination that they only dedicate 40% of their efforts to their skill-based job and strategic thinking.
Joe and team were ready to streamline “work about work” so they could focus on moving the brand forward.
“The standard of our creative team, for a while, was just to react to work. But we’ll never do the best work we possibly can without a clear process.”- Joe Tornatzky, Art Director
Joe is a “systematic creative” who loves building workflows to help people succeed. He looked for an all-encompassing work management platform that supported individuals’ daily tasks, like photoshoot scheduling and designing emails, as well as company-wide collaborations, like the Stocked conference.
Asana fit the bill with flexible workflows, a calendar view for tasks, and a central home for feedback and files so they’re visible to everyone on the team.
Joe partnered with Caitlyn Shaw, Gear Patrol’s Consumer Marketing Manager and a champion for the platform, to build out conventions for managing work in Asana. They trained the company on how to use it, developed documentation, and created test projects to experiment with. Then, team leaders set up their own workstreams, which created a sense of ownership.
Gear Patrol now tracks everything in Asana, using tasks to start and end a project in the right place, and Timeline to record due dates in fine detail. When they planned their first Stocked conference, they captured all the moving parts in Asana, down to the branded napkins. Teammates could work through their tasks while understanding the project as a whole.
“Using Asana has allowed us to take historically complex and challenging projects and turn them into seamless inter-departmental collaborations.”- Caitlyn Shaw, Consumer Marketing Manager
Today, Gear Patrol runs leaner, is more communicative, and less reactive. This has freed up resources for projects that elevate their creative work overall.
Last year—for the first time—Gear Patrol’s team was able to shoot a custom cover for their print magazine, which required a complex art direction process that resulted in an iconic image. Not only did it represent a higher-level vision for that issue, but now they had a concept to anchor promotion and positioning.
Efficiency has also generated new revenue sources. Gear Patrol’s biannual magazine is now quarterly, which has significantly grown its ad revenue from print. And they were able to venture into the world of larger events and conferences.
“Our shift in workflow allowed us to make a conceptual magazine cover, an iconic image. The value goes beyond ‘Now we’re organized.’ It becomes, ‘Now we have a better product.’”- Kyle Snarr, Client Partnerships and Corporate Communications
The first Stocked conference was such a hit that Gear Patrol announced a second one for 2020. They’ll use last year’s Asana template for faster planning, and update it based on learnings.
They also have ambitions to continue to expand the GP100—their awards for the top 100 products of the year—by launching physical awards and potentially expanding across their integrated platforms including in-real-life experiences, with Asana at their side. After all, the only thing better than amazing products is coming together to celebrate them.
“We were able to launch entirely new lines of business and grow the ad revenue generated by our magazine by turning it from a biannual to a quarterly edition.”- Joe Tornatzky, Art Director
Using Asana wall-to-wall has been crucial in helping Hack Reactor scale. As Hack Reactor CEO Tony Phillips puts it, ”We’ve cut our operations costs in half because we’re able to execute more efficiently with the processes we’ve set up in Asana.“ And as costs go down, the quality class experience—and the post graduation experience— goes up. Graduates from Hack Reactor are hired at a 98% rate.
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