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Tommy and Adam Waller find their "why" with support from Padgett

For Adam and Tommy Waller, starting a business was not part of the plan. Both brothers work other jobs: Adam is a physical therapist, and Tommy works in national security and in the Marine Corps. But when their mother presented a challenge at dinner one night, The Oyster Bed was born.
Tommy Waller in his Marine uniform, eating oysters harvested off of the coast of Africa while deployed

“In a family tradition that we have, every time I would ship off overseas in the Marines, we get together as a family with a whole bunch of different seafood and just spend time together before I would ship out,” Tommy said. “And we’ve got a huge family, there’s seven siblings, and we would struggle to keep up trying to shuck oysters. And when you try to grill oysters, it’s not ideal to do on the half-shell. It makes a huge mess and it’s a lot of work. During the last time that we got together for one of these family events, again struggling to keep up, my mom challenged us. She said, ‘you know, there’s seven of you guys, nobody has ever invented anything.’ And so, we figured that we could invent a better system to do it.”

Not long after, the company was created. “My brother called me, I was on my way to head overseas,” Tommy continued. “I was driving to a base in North Carolina, and he called and said ‘Hey, I know what we’re going to call that thing that we talked about inventing. We’ll call it The Oyster Bed.’ So, I pulled over and bought the web domain and created an LLC right there on the side of the interstate, and called him back and said, ‘Hey man, we got a company, we got a website. While I’m gone for a year, start figuring out how to make the product.’ So that’s what he did.”

Three years of research and development later, and Tommy and Adam had created and patented The Oyster Bed: a specially designed metal dish with cooking wells for oysters and a reservoir to collect the liquid, cook larger pieces of meat, or hold garnishes and sauces. They were ready to take their product to the market, but needed investment to launch, so they turned to Kickstarter. “The Kickstarter campaign, really, a lot of it was raising awareness, about the product, and having people understand why—not just what we sell, but why,” Tommy said.
Adam Waller demonstrating the multi-welled design of the Oyster Bed in a presentation to the Oyster Taskforce

The “why” has always been key to the business for Tommy and Adam after reading about Simon Sinek and the “golden circle” during their years of research. Together, they determined three parts of “why” their business mattered: first, the Waller brothers aimed to bring families around the table and closer to God; second, they wanted to support the environment and reduce coastal erosion; and third, to make good food and “cultivate creative cooking.”

“The second part we derived from our research on the industry and the environment, where we learned that there is significant coastal erosion,” Tommy said. “We’re losing like a football field of land per hour in south Louisiana. What we learned is that oyster reefs can actually help prevent some of that, just because of the nature of these reefs. They break down high energy waves. Oysters are a keystone species, so there’s a lot of other species that depend on them. They’re just really good for the environment.”

“We also learned that the oyster fisherman themselves, when it came time to build new reefs, they didn’t have enough oyster shell to put down at the bottom of the water to create a foundation for new reefs,” he continued. “So that’s the second part of the why; it’s to help restore our coastal estuaries by incentivizing as much oyster shell recycling as we can.”

Tommy and Adam are thankful to have Padgett by their side, not just for practical reasons, but because their Padgett partner, Amanda Aguillard of Padgett Business Services of Louisiana, also believes in their “why.”

“We’ve been really pleased with her as an accounting partner, not just because she and her team are really good at accounting but because they also are just fans of our company and why we do what we do,” Tommy said. “She introduced us to Xero, which is one of the really helpful tools that we use as an e-commerce business for financials and accounting. E-commerce payments for state taxes is a significant challenge, for business owners. We never had to hire full time employees to do our bookkeeping—this company only has three employees, and so it’s me, my brother, and then our incredible social media manager and VP for outreach, Beth. What [Amanda’s] brought to us has been just priceless in terms of being able to maintain a business when it’s not any of our full-time gig and do it successfully.”

“She’s also been a fan of the ‘why’ of the business and has promoted the conservation aspect of what we do even in her own social media channels and those sorts of things,” Tommy added. “It’s not something that’s maybe common among accountants or other business service providers. Usually, you end up hiring somebody to be an accountant or whatever and they just kind of do whatever they do. You don’t usually have a whole lot of overlap with other aspects of the business. Not the case with Amanda, and now with Padgett. It’s a blessing having them looking out for more than just our accounting!”

If you need a financial partner who understands your business and your "why," Padgett's nationwide network of CPAs and EAs are here to help. Find an office near you today!

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