Simple Modern Expanding in Oklahoma City

From the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

What do you get when you cross a high-growth startup with a nonprofit mentality? The answer: Simple Modern.

A local company that specializes in the design and manufacture of insulated stainless steel and plastic drinkware, Simple Modern produces water bottles and tumblers, which are reusable and sustainable, as well as various accessories, including replacement lids, straws and bottle brushes. The company also manufactures products emblazoned with professional and collegiate sports teams’ logos and can customize orders to fit any organization or groups’ needs.

Simple Modern experienced phenomenal growth since it first opened in late 2015 and was initially located in an upstairs room of one of the co-founder’s houses. The company grew so fast that within a span of five years, they had moved three times to accommodate that growth. For that reason, not to mention the uncertain global environment we all now live in, Simple Modern recently announced it was expanding its manufacturing footprint and moving some of its overseas production to Oklahoma City.

Although its headquarters is located in Moore, the company announced in February that it had leased a 175,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in southeast Oklahoma City where it will begin producing many of its products.

Company co-founder and CEO Mike Beckham said the company has invested about $5 million in its expansion efforts. Their goal is to manufacture about 2.2 million units between now and May 2023. Production will begin as soon as all of the equipment is moved in and installed, all part of a highly automated production line. The manufacturing facility should be operating at full capacity sometime in September, he said.

Although the company has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception and is one of the most successful companies in the drinkware space, Beckham, who grew up in Oklahoma City and graduated from the University of Oklahoma, will be the first to tell you that the company’s success can be attributed to two things – surprisingly, profit margin is not one of them.

“We basically built the company on the idea that life is primarily about relationships. The people you spend your day with and the type of interactions you have with people really ends up being the single biggest driver of happiness and fulfillment. And so, we wanted to build a company that had fantastic relationships with each other and not just coworkers, but actually people that you really valued and that you know. And then kind of a natural outcropping of that is we’re very focused on generosity,” Beckham said.

“In a lot of ways, we’re a lot more of a mission-driven company than we are about selling water bottles. I kind of say it’s about creating generosity for everybody we interact with — our customers, our employees, the community. We just so happen to sell water bottles,” said Beckham, adding that Simple Modern’s products get reviewed as well or even better than drinkware products manufactured by other companies around the world.

Simple Modern’s mission and company culture of being generous and relational is sprinkled all over the company’s website, including a wonderfully produced video that tells the story of Simple Modern and how the culture they have created impacts practically every idea and decision it makes. The results are telling: 1,055 organizations supported, $1.5 million in monetary donations, $1 million worth of bottles donated and 10% of profits given away annually.

“The point of growing the business isn’t to figure out how we can afford nicer things or bigger houses, but it’s to say how are we really a part of improving and enriching the lives of other people. That really has influenced the type of people that we hire, and it’s so ingrained in the culture that it really guides all of our thought processes. We really do want to make as big of a positive impact as we possibly can,” Beckham said, revealing that 10% of all company profits are given away annually to charities. Beckham said as the expansion moves forward and the company continues to grow, he would like to create jobs that are more long-term compared to those you typically see in the manufacturing world. A good way of ensuring that happens is by investing in technology, a plan Simple Modern has embraced.

“I would love to really create high-quality jobs, and I see that as being highly related to our willingness to invest in the right kinds of equipment. We’re going to heavily invest in state-of-the-art machinery, automation, things of that nature, so that the jobs that we do create are jobs that aren’t going to go anywhere.”

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