Building Close Relationships and Closing the Deal at Dobi

Glen Dobi explains how he has made Dobi & Associates one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States

Dobi & Associates is a consumer-goods manufacturer and distributor that sells to major retailers in the grocery, hardware, off-price, online, and wholesale club channels. Our TrueFire Gourmet and Coastal Cuisine brands of cedar grilling planks are used for grilling salmon in your backyard. Our CedarCraft planters are a beautiful, functional, sustainable way to enjoy a minigarden.

What started as a uniquely inspired vision to produce quality cedar grilling planks at an affordable price well below that of mainstream producers, Dobi has blossomed into a successful company that produces a multitude of sustainably crafted wood products and consumer cases and accessories. All of which came to fruition with the help of my wife and her inherent drive to succeed. Coupled with my passion to create a beautiful and affordable product consumers would love, my wife and I road-tripped from mill to mill throughout Canada, knocking on doors and showing them existing grilling planks in hopes they could create a similar product.

We happened to cross paths with the exact mill that made the grilling planks we were carrying, although they were no longer contracted with the same company. We asked if they would work with us to create sustainably made and earth-friendly products and their answer was simple: “Absolutely!”

Glen Dobi & Associates
Glen Dobi & Associates

Today, Dobi pioneers sustainably crafted woodwork for our CedarCraft and TrueFire Gourmet lines. Designed with the future in mind, our planters are built with rescued pieces of milled cedar wood. Each product uses 100 percent sustainably grown and untreated Western Red Cedar and is Sustainable Forest Initiative Certified, a result that yields an attractive, eco-friendly, and modern design. Our tenacity to build a successful consumer-goods firm from a simple idea has allowed us to enjoy success in the space for more than ten years, selling planks to Costco and honing a long-lasting relationship with the same lumber mill from the very beginning.

While creating the cedar product line, we got to know our mill very well. It’s a very close, collaborative relationship. We talk weekly and meet often. We knew the founder of the mill had a passion for having as little waste as possible, always finding ways to use what was left over in the process. Generally, there are leftover, remnant pieces of wood that would normally be scrapped. Together, we figured out a way to rescue these pieces of wood and turn them into a good, solid panel of wood that is made into gorgeous elevated planters for people’s backyards.

By having this relationship with the mill, we can develop better products that are the right fit for our accounts.

Our wonderful partnership with the mill allows us to produce popular wood products while our relationship with our bank, Comerica, allows for funding to support our business growth. We brought the same trusted, open-book mentality to our relationship with our banking partner, resulting in a great working rapport.

The advice when we received when gearing up to partner with a bank seemed silly: “Don’t look needy with your request for a loan and, therefore, do not share full information.” We elected not to follow that and decided to invite Comerica in, share how we run the business, and show them all our financials with a complete open book. This was very well received, and it’s still how we conduct our relationship.

Now, Comerica is one of our most important partnerships. Two years in a row, we’ve been one of the fastest-growing companies in San Diego and on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest-growing companies nationwide. Comerica has been a true partner, supporting us seamlessly. We’ve grown fast, and the bank has kept up with us.

The company values we work with at Dobi & Associates are honesty and integrity. And our partners appreciate that; we openly tell them what is going to happen, and we work our hardest to deliver. It’s difficult starting a company, because all sorts of unexpected things happen. But we overprepare; we work to think through what all the risks are and how we can counter them—all good partners will appreciate that. Likewise, we end up working with companies that have that same honesty and integrity.