Reed Brimhall Defines His Own Success

After a long and distinguished career in finance, Reed Brimhall took a position at Scentsy that would allow him to spend more time with his family

Reed Brimhall was on time for his interview. He carried a folder loaded with copies of his impressive résumé as he made his way from the parking lot to the building. The sun bounced off the glass facade, revealing his reflection on the door. He saw his best pinstriped suit. A perfect Windsor knot. He was ready. He stepped inside and was greeted by a troll at the reception desk.

Reed Brimhall Scentsy
Redd Brimhall, ScentsyPhoto by Jen Satterthwaite

Scentsy, a direct-sales company based in Meridian, Idaho, was celebrating Halloween. CEO Orville Thompson met Brimhall wearing jeans and a Metallica t-shirt. The candidate didn’t know if Thompson’s outfit was a costume, but he was aware that Scentsy’s culture was a bit unusual. Brimhall went home with an offer to step in as the organization’s new CFO.

In many ways, the hire was a perfect fit for both parties. As it continued to expand, Scentsy needed a veteran finance leader to create the infrastructure to support its growth. Brimhall, nearing retirement, wanted a fun and flexible assignment. During the more than forty years he’s worked in finance, Brimhall has often had to make sacrifices to do what was best for both his career and his family—and with this position, he didn’t have to sacrifice anything.

Brimhall studied accounting at Idaho State University and started his career in 1978 at Touche Ross (now Deloitte & Touche) in the firm’s office in Boise, Idaho. A university audit took him to New Mexico before he accepted a transfer to Oregon. After 13 years with the public accounting firm, Brimhall took a position at Stanford University and moved his family to California.

Although his family was able to put down roots, Brimhall was not. Stanford was accused of mischarging students, and as director of the Office of Government Cost & Rate Studies, Brimhall spent two years traveling between Palo Alto and Washington, DC, to argue the case before the federal government. While Brimhall’s efforts led to a favorable settlement, the stressful period full of politics and press took a toll.

“Scentsy talks a lot about simplicity, authenticity, and generosity, and those things resonate with me because they’ve always been a part of my own values.”

A year later, Brimhall was leading finance and administration for Stanford’s medical school, a position he calls his “dream job.” But with five children, including one autistic son, and challenges in California’s public school system, he knew things needed to change. He took a 60 percent pay cut so his family could return to Idaho. While the move brought more stability, Brimhall continued to rack up airline miles. After working as a controller at an engineering and construction firm in Boise, he became the chief accounting officer for URS, a competitor based in California. He commuted from Boise to San Francisco for twelve years so that his kids wouldn’t have to change schools.

When AECOM acquired URS in 2014, Brimhall decided to give up his frequent flyer card. After years of travel, he was ready to stay home. He sent his résumé out to a network of friends and colleagues, which led to his interview at Scentsy.

The direct-sales fragrance product company operates in eleven countries. Scentsy has nearly two thousand employees but roughly $860 million in annual sales, because it operates with a network of independent sales consultants. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an influx of new consultants to the organization. “We’re counter-cyclical, so any time unemployment hits, we see a spike,” Brimhall explains. He is helping Scentsy fund inventory and meet other demand-related challenges.

Brimhall has decided to stop working full time but will stay on as an advisor in 2021. For now, he’s in the perfect pre-retirement job. “Scentsy talks a lot about simplicity, authenticity, and generosity, and those things resonate with me because they’ve always been a part of my own values,” he says.

“I tell my students to define what success means for them. I left my dream job and repeatedly took steps back to give my family what it needed. That’s success to me.”

Every year, the company lines Boise’s busiest street with dozens of rocking chairs for the Rock-a-Thon, which raises money for local charities. In 2020, Scentsy presented $273,531.39 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho. Brimhall gives back in other ways, too. The veteran finance leader and mentor teaches a class called “Career Success Factors” during an annual culture day. It’s been standing-room only for five years in a row.

LEGO fans can also find Brimhall at Bricks and Minifigs (BAM), a resale shop his family opened in 2016. For the Brimhalls, operating a BAM franchise is more than a business venture. “I saw how hard it was for my autistic son to earn respect and find opportunities in life, so I decided to do something about it myself,” Brimhall explains. His son loves LEGO, and working at the store has helped him master life skills. Brimhall is now part owner and CFO of BAM Franchising, but running his own store is a family affair. Walk into their Boise location, and you’ll find family members hosting birthday parties, leading robotics events, ordering inventory, and working with customers.

In Career Success Factors, Brimhall shares the key principles he’s tried to follow in his own working life. “I tell my students to define what success means for them,” he says. “I left my dream job and repeatedly took steps back to give my family what it needed. That’s success to me.” And now, Brimhall is ready to enjoy what he calls the best part of life—grandchildren.