Lima, Ohio — An expansive, thick rug sits in the middle of Ashley Thompson's office. She says she likes to sit on the floor and spread out her work. Her kids (8 and 6) like the casual space, too, she says, along with the comfy loveseat near a huge wall of whiteboards with colorful notes and project reminders.
Thompson is far removed from her days as a corporate lawyer in Sidney, Ohio. The CEO of 50 Strong vowed not to wear a suit to work again, now preferring jeans, a sweater and spotted tennis shoes to go with the green and blue office walls and yellow hallways.
The color that Thompson brings to a conversation and to her office environment matches that of the products 50 Strong makes and sells — reusable water bottles, examples of which line an entire wall of her office.
"The brainchild of 50 Strong came on our living room floor watching TV, sitting there saying, 'There is more to this. There is a market for a made-in-America brand,'" said Thompson, 36, who described walking trade shows and flipping over water bottles to discover most were made overseas.
"We have the manufacturing capability to do it, which is our distinct advantage. We don't have to hire another molder. We don't have to go overseas. We're going to cut out the middleman. We saw that there was white space in the market. We said, 'OK, we're going to take a leap of faith. Let's do it.' "