In 2010 Mike White and Jeff Nowling decided they needed a logo for their Houston-based company, Real Energy Solutions, so they approached their friend Jacob Abshire, a graphic designer. “I said, ‘I’m going to tell you our culture, I’m going to tell you what we represent, and I want you to put that into your blender and blend it all up and tell me what comes out,’ ” White remembered. “I mentioned the movie 300, and Michael Jordan in his prime, and Mike Tyson, and this and that.”
Abshire came back with a couple of serrated scribbles that looked like a Chinese ideogram. White loved it. “It has a Spartan helmet kind of look. When I saw it I said, ‘That’s it, let’s run with it.’ ”
It isn’t a typical corporate logo, but then RES isn’t a typical corporation. Founded in 2007 to take advantage of Texas’s deregulated utilities market, RES acts as the middleman between retail electricity providers and small businesses, offering mom and pop a better deal on power than they could get by buying direct. For a salesman like White, it’s the ideal hustle. “If you’re selling Monster Energy drinks, you have to find the kind of person who likes energy drinks,” he said, gesturing to the can he’s been sipping from. “When it comes to electricity, everyone uses electricity.”
No sign marks RES’s headquarters, a Tuscan-style McMansion in the Houston Heights, but the office isn’t hard to find: just look for the line of gleaming Maseratis, Ferraris, and Rolls-Royces out front, all sporting matching vanity plates (“RES DNA,” “RES KNG,” “RES KID”). Inside, the office is half frat house, half Silicon Valley start-up, the walls inscribed with motivational slogans by Vince Lombardi and Pablo Picasso. The company hosts regular self-help seminars on topics ranging from personal finance to relationships to diet and fitness; there’s a fully equipped gym behind the office, where employees are encouraged to pump iron. “We believe if you make the person better, the sales will take care of themselves,” White explained.
Louie Nguyen, a 24-year-old from California, has been the company’s top salesman three out of the past four years, success he attributes to the company’s atmosphere of relentless positivity. “People are constantly speaking life over you, speaking it into reality,” he said. “Things like, ‘Man, you’re a champ, you’re going to close that ten-million-kilowatt deal, keep pushing, don’t quit!’ It doesn’t matter where it is. It could be in the kitchen, making coffee; it could be at a meeting.”
The company’s clannishness can give it a certain mystique to outsiders. “We would go into a restaurant with thirty or forty people, and we’re all in these nice suits, wearing hats with our logo on them, and people would go, ‘Who are these people in suits and hats and this crazy energy?’ White said. “We’ve had all kinds of guesses on who we are—mafia, all types of stuff.” The truth was distinctly underwhelming. “When we told them we were energy salesmen, there was this letdown, like wah-wah-wahhhh.”
White and Nowling realized they’d created something that transcended their core business. “There was always this disconnect. We had all these great principles that we were founded on, and yet you have to be a part of our company to experience it,” White said. “It was like, how do we bring the culture part of what we do to the masses?”
The answer they settled on was Ready Every Second, which they have described as both a “grassroots movement” and an “active lifestyle brand.” Launched in 2012, the Ready Every Second website sells a line of men’s and women’s workout apparel and headwear, usually emblazoned with Real Energy Solutions’ runic logo. So far, the company’s marketing has focused on athlete endorsements: Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus wore a Ready Every Second shirt at a postgame press conference last year, and the company sponsors a number of Mixed Martial Arts fighters, including Holly Holm, who upset Ronda Rousey in November to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight title.
Although Ready Every Second doesn’t yet have much visibility outside Houston, where the company has leased several billboards, White believes the brand could eventually outgrow the energy company that spawned it. At the moment, plans are afoot to introduce more products, such as an energy shot. “We already have the perfect name,” White pointed out.