13 – Year- Old – CEO – Sage OffuttRiding The Wave To Success
By Ashley Varese
Sage Offutt is the founder of Sage Paddle Co and a familiar face on Navarre Beach, driving her golf cart with the blue fin on top, tow-ing paddle boards and kayaks back and forth between renters and her family’s summer home on White Sands Boulevard.
When the Offutts bought their house last year, they couldn’t wait to get their paddleboards in the Gulf, a hobby they brought with them from their native Colorado.
“Everyone wanted to know where we got them,” Sage said.
So she asked her dad, Austin, if she could start a paddleboard rental business out of their house.
Because what 13-year-old doesn’t want to spend her summer vacation working?
That’s right – Sage, CEO of Sage Paddle Co., is just 13.
Her parents gave her the start-up cash to pur-chase six paddleboards, with the stipulation that she pay them back before she takes her cut.
“I remember laying up in bed asking Austin if he thought we’d ever get our money back,”her mom, Lynda Joy, said.
She didn’t have to wait long. Less than three weeks later, the boards were paid off in full.
Business really took off at the end of June last year. Sage sold out every day and ended up using her family’s personal boards to meet the demand.
Her business, also known as Navarre SUP, offers free pickup and delivery anywhere on Navarre Beach. Whether clients are staying at a condo, or they want the boards delivered to the water’s edge, Sage has them covered. She and her staff (yes, she employs a staff) give free demonstrations so her clients feel comfortable before taking off on their own.
“It’s not very intimidating when you have these kids showing you how [to paddle],”Austin said.
The business isn’t just a hobby for Sage. When she realized she was on to something, she reached out to two rental agencies on the beach Mermaid Mansions and Blue MoonVacation Rentals and asked if they would include her information when welcoming new renters.
She also spent plenty of time walking the beach last year in an effort to get the word out.
That’s how she met friend and employee Kaden Massey, a 14-year-old Missouri native visiting Navarre Beach with his family.
Massey, who describes Sage as a“laid-back boss,” helps lift the boards during pickups and deliveries and provides demos to the clients. He doesn’t look at the long days as“work.”
“I chose to do this,”he said.“It’s fun and enter¬taining and after four years of being here with your family, there’s only so much you can do on the beach. I waited all year for this week.”
Sage uses part of her profits to fly her friends from Colorado to Navarre as part of an“internship” program.
“One of my friends, he’s a huge skateboarder, and he wanted to learn how to run a business,”Sage said.“One friend was really shy. We would make her interact with people and do demos. She was different in school. Her grades went up … she had more confidence.”
Austin said he enjoys watching Sage manage the staff.
“Sage is a very inclusive leader,”he said.“She’s not very intimidating.”
He said each kid plays a part in the business, and with each contribution, they gain self-awareness.
Lynda Joy agreed.
“There’s something very empowering about being this young an age and being part of a company,” she said.
Sage, who lost her grandmother to cancer a couple of years ago, embraced her motto of living life without regret, and she plans to start a scholarship program in her name.
Over the winter, she reinvested her earnings into the company. She now has 24 paddleboards and added six kayaks to her inventory.
“We were looking for boards during the off-season because we needed to up our fleet,”Sage said.
While she was researching new products, she came across POP Paddleboards.
“I read what they were about, which is the same thing we were about, and they were like‘Why don’t you partner with us?’” And now she’s the brand ambassador.
“She does conference calls with the CEO,”her dad said, still amazed at how far she’s come in such a short time.
Nick Lanfranco, co-founder and CEO of POP, described Sage as“tenacious”and“determined.”
“It wasn’t until after the sale when I learned that the person I worked so hard to earn their business from was just 12 years old,”Lanfranco said.“That blew my mind.”
Lanfranco was impressed with Sage’s level of professionalism and her dedication.
“I can’t wait to see her success and watch her grow,”he said.“I hope one day she runs my com-pany.”
Her seven-day-a-week job starts at 8 a.m. and sometimes doesn’t end until around 9 p.m. Depend-ing on how busy she is, lunch may consist of a protein bar at around 4 p.m.
“I get up at 7 a.m., eat breakfast and get ready,”she said.“And then I just get call after call after call.”
Boards are available for rental from two hours to a full week, so Sage’s days are never predictable. If she has downtime between deliveries, she’ll head out to the beach for surfing or paddleboarding.
“It’s a great learning experience,”Sage said.“The best part to me is meeting new people and establishing a little community for that week.”
For more information, visit sagepaddleco.com, stop by her tiki stand at 8228 Gulf Blvd., or call 850-396-3044.