The Download: Thad Tarkington, CEO, Second Nature

Thad Tarkington is the co-founder and CEO of Second Nature, formerly FilterEasy, a home wellness subscription service for homes and business. Prior to founding Second Nature, Thad spent three years attending NC State University and working in direct sales. He dropped out of NC State during his junior year to focus on building Second Nature full time. Outside of business, Thad can be found enjoying all types of activities, from snowboarding to golf. He loves to travel and have fun with close friends and family.

1. What is in your pockets?
I’m very simple: phone, wallet, keys. If I’m out and about, just a credit card and ID. Otherwise, the wallet and the keys if I’m sitting in the office. I don’t like anything in my pockets. I like to keep them empty.

2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
The company was founded almost seven years ago to solve a simple problem of people forgetting to change air filters. It was a problem with a large market. Nearly every household and building has heating and cooling systems. We like to say, “Big doors, small hinges.” It’s this little item that you have to do, depending on your climate, usually monthly or quarterly. By changing it, you’re going to save up to 15% off your heating and cooling bill. So it actually pays for itself. You’re also going to save about a hundred dollars a year on your HVAC maintenance and repair bills. Now you’re a 2x ROI. You get the benefit of more efficient heating and cooling, and then in addition to that, better air quality for your home.

That’s not a very expensive product; it’s something that’s important. Why are people not doing it? It’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. It’s a chore, right? It’s not enjoyable. No one wakes up Saturday morning and says, “I want to go buy a filter.” So they constantly put it off to the next weekend. That was really that the driving force behind, “Hey, we see a market opportunity here where you’ve got something with thousands of sizes, of varying quality.” It’s a product people know about, but they’re not really well-educated on. So we thought that with a little bit of education and convenience, we can build a really strong business. Having proven that out, now it’s really about the next stage.

The big news that we have is we just rebranded the company. That was an over-a-year-long project. We put a nice blog post together. Our longer-term goal is that we want to empower people to take better care of their homes and really make the whole idea of home maintenance and management, and everything related to that, part of our new brand name. There’s some other nice meanings to that as well, but ultimately that’s the biggest news we’ve made since launching the company seven years ago. To date we have always done air filters. This really sets the stage to allow us to go into product expansion outside of air filters.

3. What is your favorite coffee spot?
I don’t drink coffee actually, so I don’t have a local coffee shop kind of place to hang out. I spend most of my time at the office. I travel a decent amount. If I’m not on the road, I’m usually at the office, at my house or with friends.

4. What keeps you up at night?
Fortunately, there’s not one big thing that keeps me up at night. I think I’m lucky in that regard. When my head hits the pillow, I’m out. Maybe that’s because I don’t sleep much. We do have some pretty ambitious goals for the business, and thinking about and trying to make sure we can be successful, it’s really following through on the goals that we have for the business. All things considered, I don’t have too many worries.

5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
One of my favorite restaurants is Stanbury in Raleigh. My understanding is it’s pretty fresh, the whole farm-to-table thing. It’s delicious. The menu changes every once in a while. Has a good vibe.

6. What is next for you or your organization?
Now that the rebrand is behind us, we’ve got our first initial product launch coming later this year, which will be in the water-filtration space. We’re focused on getting that to market successfully. Then we’ve got some big plans after that for further product expansion. We’re going to be expanding to every area of the home over time.

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About Brooks Malone 26 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and HQ Raleigh.