Ep 143 – We Work Until It’s Done: Caity Henniger on Rogue Fitness and its Response to COVID-19

Ep 143 – We Work Until It’s Done: Caity Henniger on Rogue Fitness and its Response to COVID-19

Everybody puts their boots on the same way.  And what that means is, it doesn’t matter your title here.  It could be the people on our leadership team, Bill and I, or it could be the person coming in their first day on the job on the assembly line...everyone is the same. And everyone is going to be treated the same. And it goes back to that first [value], we work until it’s done. If there are boxes that need to go out the door, or we need to make more barbells, you’re going to see the top leadership down going out and helping right now. We did get overrun before we could hire some people- we have everyone in our office right now, they’re doing shifts on our production floor. And that’s really what this is all about, and you see people getting experiences that you normally wouldn’t have. To go out and build a barbell, and maybe you’re in our IT department, a lot of places you wouldn’t have that opportunity, but we live by that standard. Everybody puts their boots on the same way.
- Caity Henniger

Caity Henniger has been a lifelong athlete.  In high school she led her basketball team to victory in 91 out of 102 games, was voted MVP of the 1998 Junior Olympic AAU circuit, and was a two-time state champion in both shot put and discus.  She went on to play collegiate ball at Ohio State where she averaged 15.4 points per game and set the school single-season record for three-pointers, with 106, earning her the Edward S. Steitz Award as the nation's best three-point shooter.  In 2005, Caity joined the WNBA as a player for the Charlotte Sting.

After multiple leg surgeries led Caity to retire from basketball, she was drawn to the competitive side of CrossFit.  In 2008,  with just a few months of CrossFit experience, she took first place at the 2008 CrossFit Games.  Caity would go on to become a fixture in the production side of the Games, working as an ESPN commentator and as a representative of Rogue Fitness.

Shortly after Caity's 2008 CrossFit Games victory, she began playing a huge role in helping Rogue Fitness grow from a small e-commerce site to a major powerhouse in the fitness equipment industry.  With a focus on manufacturing quality, American-made products from local sources, Rogue now employs over 900 people at their massive 600,000 square foot campus in Columbus, Ohio.

Recently, when Ohio issued a stay-at-home order in response to COVID-19, Rogue quickly pivoted their manufacturing processes to make Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare workers, a decision that is not only helping to keep healthcare workers safe, but is also helping to keep their local community employed.

I had to opportunity to sit down with Caity to learn more about the mission and values Rogue was founded on, and how those principles are driving their business during this time of uncertainty.  We chatted about her days as a competitor,  how she balances her role as an executive with her own personal health,  and we were even able to steal a few minutes from Rogue's Director of Product Development, Ahmik Jones, to learn more about the processes behind shifting gears from manufacturing fitness equipment to manufacturing PPE.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Caity’s athletic background
  • The history behind Rogue Fitness and their partnership with the CrossFit Games
  • What led Rogue to branch out into manufacturing equipment for other sports
  • Rogue's new facility and the Industrial Revolution 2.0
  • Rogue's three core values and how they implement them
  • The story behind Don’t Weaken
  • Rogue’s early response to COVID-19
  • How Rogue came to have a doctor as their Director of Product Development
  • How Rogue made the decision to manufacture PPE for healthcare workers, and what the development process has been like
  • Measures Rogue has taken encourage employees to embrace fitness and the positive impact they’ve seen as a result
  • How Caity manages her time to allow for her own workouts and downtime away from work
  • The mentors who helped Caity grow into a strong leader
  • What a typical day looks like for Caity
  • Stand-out moments where Caity has felt especially proud of the work Rogue is doing
  • Three things that Caity does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she thinks could have a big impact on her health but she has a hard time implementing
  • What a healthy life looks like to Caity

You can follow Caity on Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Rogue Fitness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


Related episodes:

Ep 51 - Dick Costolo on Taking Risks and Finding Fitness

Ep 90 - CrossFit Games GM Justin Bergh: The Man Behind the Magic

Ep 101 - Dr. Joe Janesz on Building a Champion Mindset

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.

This post was originally published on May 12, 2020.

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