Meet Our Director of Sales Operations
Welcome to our Employee Spotlight series — a chance to get to know the folks behind NEMO who work hard to innovate amazing gear, improve our impact on the planet, and inspire adventure for all.
Employee Name: Jessica Merrill
Title/Position: Director of Sales Operations
Years at NEMO: 8 years
Jessica and her family on a ski trip in Utah.
What does your role entail? What types of projects do you work on, or what duties are you responsible for?
I guide the operational goings-on within the sales department, helping to keep the ship steady and accomplish team goals. Mike [VP of Global Sales] creates the backbone, mission, and overarching directives while I strive — alongside an amazing group of sales team members — to ensure execution, create efficiency, and achieve overall excellence.
Much of the time my focus is on details; order book audits, operating procedures, forecasting, monthly and yearly channel progression, pricing, sell-in, sell-through, sales programs... the list goes on. I also spend a solid chunk of time digging into our systems, surfacing discrepancies, issues, or pain points, and helping to solve and correct. And we can’t forget inventory management — I shift inventory daily (sometimes hourly!) between channels to capitalize on all sales opportunities.
The best part of my day-to-day is the collaboration with nearly every department within NEMO. My work regularly overlaps with logistics, marketing, finance, IT, and product. I’m fortunate to interact with nearly every member of the full NEMO team at some point within my work week.
There is zero monotony, which is a big reason why I love my job so much.
Has this been your role the entire time you’ve been at NEMO?
I actually began my journey with NEMO as Customer Service Manager, working with a team of three. Our team grew quickly and consistently, and with that growth, new positions were established. I migrated around until landing in my seat today as Director of Sales Ops.
How’d you end up at NEMO?
Prior to NEMO, my husband and I owned a 9-acre lodging property with a 350-seat restaurant up in the North Conway, NH area. We focused on that for 8 years — our kids were just babies then. Hospitality and food & beverage are my husband's passion, and owning the business was his dream, so that kept us in place for a solid stint. Ultimately, though, the demanding nature of hospitality started to wear, and we decided that missing out on our kids' upbringing wasn't worth the trade-off. So, we sold.
My husband and I both grew up in Southern Maine but agreed that Southern New Hampshire was a perfect spot to relocate because it was close proximity to the mountains, the ocean, and the city if we wanted an injection of culture. We really just needed the ability to spend more time as a family after that all-consuming time in hospitality.
By that point, I really dug deep to figure out what I was interested in doing. Having been born and raised with a love and appreciation for the outdoors — beaching, hiking; days at the lake and in the mountains — the outdoor industry had a good ring to it. I stumbled across NEMO on the Outdoor Industry Help Wanted website and thought it was so bizarre that I had never heard of them because I was such an experienced, well-versed camper having grown up with all things Coleman. (Laughs.)
I researched the company at length and decided that the culture sounded spot on, matching my personality and values. Determined to nail the interview, I memorized the entire product line on the website so I could speak as intelligently as possible while knowing nothing else about NEMO gear! I came in and met with the Director of Sales at the time, then the entire NEMO team (which, at that point, was just 13 people), and it all just clicked. There was an immediate connection.
They were hiring a Customer Service Manager and to be perfectly truthful, I don't particularly enjoy customer conflict... I'm type C — I enjoy written communications, facts, figures, and systems. But I was so committed to getting into this company that I went for it anyway, with the goal of working my way up and out of that role as quickly as possible.
And I did.
Jessica and her husband chose the Seacoast of NH for its close proximity to the ocean and mountains.
Talk to me about your background with the outdoors. It sounds like, growing up, you’ve always spent time outside. How did that influence you getting a job and NEMO, and how you’re raising your own family?
Yep. I grew up in Southern Maine in Saco, and I spent my summers either at the beach, on the lake, or camping. That was our go-to family outing — we didn’t have a ton of money, but we certainly vacationed a lot. We had a 14-foot trailer my parents would sleep in and I would get the tent. (I’m an only child, so I could always bring a friend.) We traveled all over New England, camping, hiking... just everything outdoors because it was easy and affordable.
My husband is from the Freeport area and grew up similarly. We both spent our childhood vacationing frequently in the White Mountains, which is why we sought out a business opportunity up there, it’s just a beautiful area. I wanted to raise my children having similar and frequent outdoor experiences... like we did growing up. Thinking on this, [our COO] Brent will occasionally reflect back to when I applied at NEMO and recalls how my cover letter to NEMO was less about me and more about my kids and how they were being raised to have strong intentional values and ample outdoor experiences. This approach feels weird to me now and I wouldn’t do this as part of the application process today, but it felt right at the time and hey, it worked! (laughs)
Today, I have an 18-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son, and they are both incredibly outdoorsy. They have always been adventurous and have spent their days out in the woods, on a lake, in the ocean, or on a ski slope. That’s exactly what I wanted. There’s no better learning than being outdoors and having those experiences that go along with that, so goal: accomplished.
Jessica and her family regularly take advantage of trails near their home!
How is NEMO different from other employers?
I don’t have other companies to compare apples-to-apples but thinking about NEMO does make me reflect on a period in my life when I was doing a lot of cross-country exploration, driving solo back and forth many times. The tagline “Adventure Anywhere” has always resonated with me because I was, in my younger years, committed to never settling for boring or run-of-the-mill. I always sought out that adventure — in my travels, I made spontaneous decisions, like “I have $800 in my pocket? I’m gonna move to San Francisco.” (And drove across country, did that, and failed a few different times!)
NEMO is an employer, so it can feel traditional to some extent with the general 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday feel, but there’s a level of flexibility that allows you to embrace your individuality, explore, and pursue adventures. I’ll never forget sitting in a management meeting with Cam and others, discussing personal goals for the new year. This was before my daughter finished high school. My mission at that time was to have an opportunity to travel cross-country and explore as many national parks as possible with her. This was something that I had done with my mom when I was a teen, and I’ll never shake those memories. It was an amazing opportunity and forged an amazing bond between us.
Cam said, “Well, you should do it.” And I remember thinking, “Yeah, it’s never gonna happen,” it would require a huge time commitment and several weeks away from the office. Cam called me that night saying, “I just want you to know that I meant what I said in that meeting today. You need to commit to doing that trip with your daughter.”
There are not many employers who would encourage this kind of leave — most would steer you away from the opportunity due to the extended absence. But he encouraged it, and that will never be forgotten. From that evening on my daughter and I began planning our trip, made it happen, and I’m forever grateful. I really love that NEMO doesn’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk — we work damned hard, but we are encouraged to play hard too.
Jessica and her daughter took a road trip out west to visit colleges which turned into a memorable cross country trip of bonding and exploring National parks.
How many national parks have you been to?
Gah, I don’t have that number off the top of my head! At least 15...
What are some of your favorites?
One of my absolute favorites would be the Badlands in South Dakota. Mostly because of the memories it stirs up from when I traveled cross-country with my mom years ago. This was a trip I was actually supposed to do with my boyfriend at the time, but when it was time to go, he told me that he hadn’t saved enough money. My mom was an elementary schoolteacher and had the summers off, so I was like “Mom, you should definitely come! You can do this with me.” And she did, I couldn’t believe how easy it was.
On that trip, my favorite was the Badlands, the first “out of this world” kind of park I had seen. So, I made sure that was the first stop on the trip with my daughter and she loved it just as much. It’s like being on another planet! I remember when I first drove through with my mom, feeling like “Wow. This exists?!? And on the same continent where I live?” It was just so crazy to me.
Saguaro, down in Tucson, Arizona, is another favorite, and that one was not originally on the list. I visited heare on my most recent trip with my daughter. We were in Death Valley, a vast, flat, hot place, and she was a little disappointed, expecting to see the huge tree-like multi-armed cacti everywhere. We started researching and found out they were down South of Tucson — way below our planned route — and I was like “Y’know what, let’s go.” So, we dipped down there, and it exceeded expectations. You’re just driving down a road and all of a sudden, these huge cacti appear out of nowhere. They’re everywhere and it’s awesome. The cacti are spectacular.
Beyond writing an amazing, tailored cover letter, do you have any advice for someone looking to join the outdoor industry or NEMO, specifically?
Be authentic, scrappy, ambitious, and accountable; and have appreciation for the outdoors. Adventure is always encouraged and there are no rules around what, exactly, that means — adventure is different to everyone and NEMO provides the opportunity and encouragement to really tap into this, no strings attached.
There are some amazing people that work in the outdoor industry; don’t let anyone stop you from believing you can be one of them.