The 2014 Executive Excellence Awards: Dan Price

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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 #2: Karl Bischoff

Off the Clock Profile #2: Karl Bischoff

Chairman & COO, Phinney Bischoff
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a monthly series of miniprofiles featuring local executives “off the clock.”

EXECUTIVE'S NAME, TITLE AND COMPANY NAME.
Karl Bischoff, Chairman & COO, Phinney Bischoff, Seattle.

TELL US WHAT YOUR COMPANY DOES AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS BUSINESS.
For over 30 years, we’ve created innovative solutions for both global and local brands. Since our start in 1982, we’ve evolved from a traditional design house to an experience design studio providing strategic branding, creative and digital services. But one thing has never changed: our unwavering commitment to provide meaningful, engaging and strategic solutions that create valuable experiences across every connection point.

After 20 years as a commercial photographer, I discovered my favorite part of the job was learning about my clients' companies and what made them tick. I started working with my wife, Leslie Phinney, on various projects and we eventually joined forces.

WHAT BOOK/TV SHOW/PODCAST ARE YOU READING/WATCHING/LISTENING TO AND WHY?
I love to read Medium.com, a blog by and for writers. I’ve even been brave enough to write a couple articles for it. I like to watch Roadies, a show about the backstage crew for a touring rock band. I spent my youth as a musician playing rock, blues, jazz, and traveling with an international avant-garde group called Amra Arma. I like reading anything by Neil Stephenson or William Gibson (speculative fiction writers) as well as technical manuals (sorry, what can I say?).

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SPOT IN SEATTLE?
Either home with my lovely wife and two pups, or at Bischoff Boatworks, my boat shop.

WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU DRIVE AND WHY?
After many years driving vans to carry musical equipment or photographic gear, I did my time with ragtops. Now the boatbuilding has me driving a Toyota Tundra monster truck with a rack for carrying big stuff.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU.
In 1972, while on tour with the band in London, we did a biofeedback demonstration for the American ambassador at a U.S. Embassy reception for us.

WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT OUTSIDE OF WORK?
For the past 15 years, I have been building wooden boats. I am intrigued by the history of the craft. I study how things were done hundreds of years ago by the masters. While I do use modern power tools, I also make some tools myself, as many hand tools are no longer manufactured. Most of the materials and processes I use are similar to those used for centuries. I am currently building a 30-foot wood schooner (two-masted) named Bish, my dad’s nickname, in my shop on the Duwamish in Georgetown. I’m six years into it, with an estimated 12 years to go. I don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to it, but it's fun poking away at it.

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