In a world that seems infiltrated with far more bad news than any good, imagine you find a ray of sunshine so warm and bright, you stop and ask yourself, “Is this real?”
Join me as we travel a romantic highway where sunshine beams through a sky of dark clouds and reveals a true love story so fitting for the month of February, I envision St. Valentine smiling.
Selecting and selling shot glasses and apparel to restaurants in Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, started to feel like a tapped-out position for Britney. She wanted to find another opportunity where she could grow.
Kicked back in a restaurant one slow afternoon, Britney and a girlfriend of hers were rifling through the newspaper when an ad for a job at Gold Bond, a supplier in the promotional products industry, caught their attention. With two positions available, they thought it would be cool to nab both jobs and continue working together.
While their hopes of working together didn’t pan out—Britney landing the job with Gold Bond and her friend pursuing a degree in healthcare—the unexpected sprang forth.
To see how her role played out, Britney began with Gold Bond on the low end of the totem pole. Within no time flat, department heads were flabbergasted with Britney’s ability to turn a $20,000 account into a quarter of a million dollar account, earning her the nickname “Honey Badger.”
“I love marketing!” Britney beams. “I think it’s so much fun. To be honest, when I dipped my toe into Gold Bond, I really didn’t know what I was in for. I didn’t have a plan like an Evil Knievel take-over-the-world or anything like that. I really was just trying to explore a new opportunity where I had the ability to be challenged. I got to use the little bit of marketing background that I had.”
Mark laughs and explains, “Honey Badgers don’t care. They’re going after the sales. They are aggressive types who fear nothing.” Yet he clarifies, “We weren’t dating at that point; however, there was definitely an attraction. With me being the owner and her growing in sales, we knew that fraternization happens in the workplace, and I had to be careful. Obviously, I didn’t want to ruin her path because I didn’t want there to be any favoritism. There was a period where we started talking a little bit more and hanging out a little bit more, but we kept it quiet for a while.”
He continues, “And when both of us realized it was more than just hanging out and a simple attraction, I did reach out to my business partner first and my staff team to let them know that Britney and I were dating. I wanted them to make sure that she was professionally treated, that nothing changes as far as what happens at work. Everybody was very supportive.”
On their one year anniversary of dating, April 2nd, 2014, Mark planned to take Britney to celebrate at a restaurant a little further away from where they lived. Neither of them had ever been there to eat.
Like a best-selling author using a literary canvas to paint the perfect picture for the reader, Britney vividly recalls and describes every detail of their stop along the way. “Mark was in the middle of landscaping and so he was like, ‘Hey! I want to run by the landscape architect’s place because there’s a couple of plants that I want us to look at to see what you think.’
“And it’s like the perfect time because they are in bloom. So we pull into this house, and it’s gorgeous. All of these beautiful fountains. Everything is in bloom. Everything is all plush and green. It’s almost like a movie scene. They have this grotto area that is sitting in the middle of the landscape. It’s so intimate with mosaic tiles surrounded by all of this blossoming foliage. We are walking and talking and make our way to this grotto area when Mark says, ‘Just wait here because she has some stuff in the back that I want you to see, but I don’t know if we can go back there yet because she wants to get everything ready.’
“So we’re sitting there, and I’m completely oblivious. I think we’re still looking for trees. We are talking, and he starts discussing our one year of dating. The conversation starts progressing and getting a little bit more serious and intimate. And then all of a sudden, he turns around, drops to one knee, and he pops the question. I have no words,” Britney exclaims. “I’m a hot mess. I’m an ugly crier, and I instantly go into boo-hoo mode.”
Entranced with their conversation and lost in the moment of engagement, Britney was taken by another surprise when she discovered Mark’s mom had been in the background taking pictures the entire time. “His mom got to capture the whole thing unfolding while he was in the midst of proposing, which was a very special moment.”
Britney brags, “Mark has this really good quality of keeping everything tight-lipped and top secret. He had it planned out to a T because I was completely shocked. We hadn’t discussed it at all so I had no idea it was coming. I absolutely thought we were going to dinner and making a pit stop to look at a couple of plants.”
One year later on May 16th, 2015, Mark and Britney Godsey were married.
When asked how each complements the other by working as husband and wife at the same company, Britney glows. “I do think Mark and I make a really exquisite pair when it comes to working together. I think that those few years prior to us getting to date established great rapport when it comes to work settings, and we very much keep the business conversations completely separate when it comes to Gold Bond. We think a lot alike, which is funny enough, so I would say the majority of the time we are completely on board with each other.”
For those who need marital inspiration, Britney provides. “But what I appreciate about Mark is if he doesn’t agree, it doesn’t mean that it’s shut down. It just means that he’ll ask more provoking and prodding questions to ensure that he understands so he can make a sound decision for the customer, the employee, and the company. I think he always keeps those three things in mind. So regardless of the circumstances, we know that those three hard-core pillars are what we base all of our decisions around. It has nothing to do with what we prefer but everything to do with how the company needs to run for the employees and clients alike.
“One of the best things about his leadership is he understands how to identify people’s passions and their skill sets. He knows how to compliment them well so that he can push people in the right way but also guide them with a better suited visionary move for the organization.”
As if their personal and professional relationship couldn’t get any better, Britney adds, “We rarely disagree but if we do, we will table it and respectfully say, ‘Here’s why I feel the way that I do. I’d like the opportunity to go gather more intelligence for you or data for you to use, then I can revisit it with you so you can see a little bit more where I’m coming from.’ And Mark does the same thing. We respect the boundaries of each other. At the end of the day, he’s the president and whatever he says goes. And I fully understand and respect that. I’ll execute whatever his vision is for as long as he allows me to. That’s the difference in my role as the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and the role as his wife. At the end of the day, this is his company and this is his vision.”
With passion, drive and commitment, Britney states, “Regardless of the relationship with Mark, I would one hundred percent want to work at Gold Bond until I retired—even if we weren’t together. This is a great organization and a great industry.”
“Very kind words, Ms. Britney,” Mark pipes in wearing a smile. “We do agree a lot. We do have conversations inside the building, and we have conversations that carry on through the evening at home. I think one thing we do pretty well at home is that we will discuss work, but we do actually cut it off if we need ‘Mark and Britney time’ to talk about non-business stuff.
“The one thing Britney is so passionate about is this company, her people, and the customer. That’s why it’s really easy for us. I still have to get on her about taking on too much. If a particular order is going wrong, which, you know those things happen, I’ve got to get her more visionary and out here looking forward instead of in the weeds. It’s not a disagreement. It’s just that I have to remind her that she is the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer who doesn’t have to deal with the day-to-day stuff, that there are people who take care of those issues.
“But she still has that honey badger in her where if she sees something going wrong, she’s going to attack it and she’s going to own it. And I love that quality about her. You can ask anybody at Gold Bond, she has earned all the respect in the world because of what she’s done and the education and the leadership that she’s taken on to be where she is. Britney is not in that position because of me. She earned that position from her employees, her manager, peers and the staff. No one here will tell you that she has that position because she’s married to Mark. Not one person would say that here. She’s earned every single stripe that she has right now because she busts her butt every day.”
In closing, Britney sends a huge thanks to the promotional products industry. “I want to say I appreciate how this industry has been very welcoming of relationships like mine and Mark’s. It’s untraditional across corporate America for you to have so many husband and wife operations or Mom and Pop—however you want to illustrate it—type organizations. And I love that our industry is so warmly welcoming of that. And I think that helps depict the type of culture that our industry is great at. We’re built on relationships with our clients. And we start with our relationships in our personal life, so I think the combination of the husband and wife duo really exudes the family feel that Mark has always preached and built the company on—Mark and Mitch.
Even a pet knows the greatness of good company: Britney, Mark and Gold Bond. On the last day of the work week, their four-legged child senses that Fridays are casual day when her owners dress in blue jeans. Carmen, the Brindle Pittie mix and corporate mascot they rescued, gets excited knowing she’s going to spend Fridays at the office to say hi to her employee friends who are waiting to welcome and spoil her with treats and preferential treatment.
Gold Bond, Inc. is a family-owned supplier located in Hixson, Tennessee, that carries an array of promotional products: golf balls, tech, writing instruments, drinkware, lifestyle, school and office, outdoor items, snacks, et cetera. The company has been in existence for seventy-seven years. And I have no doubt with this award-winning team couple at the helm, there will be seventy-seven plus more years to celebrate Gold Bond’s amazing success. They are fortunate to win two Gold Pyramids and have won the ASI Distributor Choice Awards for the third year in a row.
So, there you have it. In life and in love, just one small step can lead to huge results and unexpected changes. Who knew Britney and Mark’s walk to the altar and working as a team in the promotional products industry would begin by Britney answering an ad for a job in the newspaper. That’s how fate works!