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May 1, 2017 Executive Profile

BigMouth's Carpenito eyes $100M in fun business

HBJ PHOTO | John Stearns Frank Carpenito shows a few of BigMouth Inc.'s hundreds of products, including a pink flamingo serving ring and, to the left, taco truck lunch tote.

The pool float designed like a frosted sprinkle doughnut with a bite out of it, the strawberry-shaped beach blanket, full-bottle wine glasses with clever inscriptions, a dog water dish that looks like a mini toilet – one can't help but view BigMouth Inc.'s products and smile, even laugh.

Glastonbury-based BigMouth, founded in 2001, has made serious business of fun. It's aiming for $50 million in revenue this year, 50 times its 2010 take, according to new CEO Frank Carpenito. He believes the business can do $75 million to $100 million in a few years organically.

Carpenito, whose 32-year career has been mostly in consumer products, was hired in January.

“The intent was to bring in a full-time CEO to partner with Steve (Wampold) and kind of lead us to this next stage of growth,” said Carpenito, whose hiring allows Wampold, founder and former CEO, to focus on product development. Carpenito will ensure the infrastructure, from people to processes, plus strategy, discipline and focus, are in place for continued growth.

BigMouth's largest business segment is outdoor lifestyle, including pool floats, beach-related products and snow tubes; followed by the novelty gift sector, which includes drinkware, ceramics and “twisted” garden gnomes (there's a shirtless “I'm sexy & I gnome it” character); plus prank or joke products.

BigMouth designs its roughly 500 products at its Glastonbury office, where most of its 28 employees work and Carpenito plans to hire about 10 a year near-term. BigMouth sells its products through leading retailers globally.

Carpenito's hiring follows BigMouth's recapitalization last fall with Indianapolis-based private equity group CID Capital, making CID majority owner. Wampold, now senior vice president of creative development, knew instantly upon meeting Carpenito that he was the right fit.

“He has an incredibly impressive résumé, but just his demeanor and his personality, honesty, sincerity and his all-around business intelligence … he was very well-rounded and that's what we wanted,” said Wampold, who's learned a lot from Carpenito. “You know, I handed the keys to my baby basically to him.”

Carpenito, who told Wampold he didn't need a podium as CEO, allayed any concerns Wampold had about his leadership style.

“I was wondering, is he going to take charge?” Wampold said. “I've been very impressed that, in the management meetings, he takes control without being disruptive” or dictatorial.

Carpenito, 54, said he understands the value of good people and culture to an organization, has high expectations for staff, but is fair and clear, provides quantitative metrics for them, and values collaboration over hierarchy, but isn't afraid to break ties.

Carpenito, most recently president and CEO at Dancing Deer Baking Co. in Boston, which makes baked goods, said he has one of BigMouth's easier jobs: Stay out of the way where things are going well; help in areas needing improvement. The Boston native began his career at Procter & Gamble. Other employers included PepsiCo. He prefers smaller, entrepreneurial-driven firms and sees parallels at BigMouth with his work at Pepsi. There, he led a New England division that grew 10 separate business channels —grocery, convenience and drugstores, for example — during his second and third years, the only U.S. market to do so during that two-year period, he said. He expanded sales channels without cannibalizing others by employing strategies unique to each.

“Our products (at BigMouth) don't need to be frozen, they don't need to be refrigerated,” Carpenito said. “They're largely impulse (buys), in some cases they're gifts and they're very eye-catching. So the opportunity for us to really build out a deep channel strategy as well as a geographic strategy is pretty significant.”

Outside work, Carpenito's a Boston sports enthusiast, avid bicyclist and fan of Cape Cod, where he keeps a small boat and likes to fish. Married to Karen, the couple has two grown daughters, one a mechanical engineer, the other finishing a doctorate in physical therapy.

“They got their looks and their brains from their mother,” he said.


Executive Profile: Frank Carpenito

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