The 2014 Executive Excellence Awards: Dan Price

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

Dan Price, Cofounder and CEO, Gravity Payments

Dan Price fuels the growth of his credit card payments company from the same passion that drove him to launch it. Community businesses, he saw, were poorly served by most competitors, who offered little service and whose transaction fees could rise without notice. The industry, he observed, “was set up to extract money from them and not provide much value.”

Price had this insight at age 19, when he cofounded Gravity Payments in his dorm room at Seattle Pacific University with the help of his older brother. Gravity charges a lower percentage fee, sends easy-to-follow bills, and provides quick, personal service. Less than 10 years later, it is among the top 50 credit card processors in the United States, with customers in all 50 states.

“I originally thought we wouldn’t make any profit,” Price admits, but growth through referrals and low turnover keep costs lower than most competitors. “We rarely lose customers unless they go out of business.”

In the office, Price has an open-door policy — or would if he had a door. He shares desk space with nearly 100 employees and joins in on customer calls. It helps him remain connected to his original mission of service. “If an issue is impacting a customer,” he says, “I flip out about it.”

Off the Clock Profile #1: Joe Fugere

Off the Clock Profile #1: Joe Fugere

Founder and CEO, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria.
 
 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a montly series of miniprofiles featuring local executives "off the clock."

EXECUTIVE'S NAME, TITLE AND COMPANY NAME.
Joe Fugere, founder & CEO, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria

TELL US WHAT YOUR COMPANY DOES AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS BUSINESS.
Tutta Bella takes great pride in enriching neighborhoods and nourishing lives by sharing traditions, authentic food and love through Tutta Bella’s family of five Neapolitan pizzerias in Seattle, Bellevue and Issaquah. We serve certified authentic pizzas, pasta, salads, handcrafted cocktails, beer, wine and housemade desserts. The newest member of the family is D’Asporto, a beautiful food truck built from a converted shipping container and outfitted with an Italian oven. Since January 2016, we have been operating the Hollywood Tavern, a historic tavern and restaurant built in 1947 in the heart of Woodinville’s wine country. At the tavern, we bring community together with inventive craft cocktails, expressive tavern fare and a fun, informal atmosphere.

I’ve always had a love for creative, authentic cooking. My professional training is in hospitality business management (WSU), and my grandmother was an Italian immigrant who arrived in Seattle in 1911 with my great-grandparents from the Calabria region just south of Naples. I was also interested in creating a purpose-driven company that is committed to continuously improving our business, while also making a positive social and environmental impact.

WHAT BOOK/TV SHOW/PODCAST ARE YOU READING/WATCHING/LISTENING TO AND WHY?
I just finished Howard Behar’s new book, The Magic Cup: A Business Parable about a Leader, a Team, and the Power of Putting People and Values First. Howard has been a mentor ever since I worked for him in the international division at Starbucks in the ’90s. This “business fable” follows a newly named CEO through the process of earning respect from his employees by applying authentic leadership lessons to achieve outstanding results. I also recently discovered the TV show, Mr. Selfridge. The series is about an American entrepreneur and retail tycoon who aspired to open the world’s finest department store in London in the early 20th century. It's an inspiring lesson in taking risks, staying focused and applying innovation to an established industry.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SPOT IN SEATTLE?
I know this sounds crazy, but I like to hang out at Ruby Chow Park at the north end of Boeing Field. When I was a child, my best friend’s father would take us there to watch jets take off and land. Even today, I can identify almost any airliner in the sky just by looking at its belly and engine configuration. There is also an amazing view of Mount Rainier from the park.

 

WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU DRIVE AND WHY?
I drive a 2012, Firenze red Range Rover Evoque. We affectionately call it “Red Rover” at Tutta Bella and it has traveled many miles between our five locations. I was attracted to the car because of its innovative styling. I also loved that it was one of the few “concept cars” that went into production with relatively few changes.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU.
When I was 16 years old, one of my first jobs was dressing up as a loaf of bread and traveling to QFCs around Seattle. I was called “Freddy Fresh Guy” and customers were encouraged to squeeze me to see just how fresh I was. Can you imagine what a field day HR departments would have with that job description today?

WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT OUTSIDE OF WORK?
Gardening. I am a foliage fanatic — I love plants with intriguing leaf patterns.

I also prioritize planning travel adventures and spending time with my three grandkids.

› Tell us about your Off the Clock activities. Visit seattlebusinessmag.com/clock-seattle-executive.