Founder and CEO
Custom Toll Free, a DBA of Rugly Holdings Inc.
“We are all responsible for what happens to us. There are no accidents.”
– Chris Rugh
Chris Rugh is a successful entrepreneur with irrepressible passion for business and life. He launched Custom Toll Free (www.customtollfree.com) as a DBA of Rugly Holdings Inc. (www.rugly.com) in 1997. Custom Toll Free has since become the nation’s leading vanity telephone number search firm. Fortune 500 companies and well recognized brands such as 1-800-CONTACTS, Comcast, and Best Buy are among the company’s valued clients. Revenues at Custom Toll Free have escalated dramatically every year since launch and during the worst recession in history they grew 30%. The company employs seven team members and dozens more through outsource arrangements.
Rugh is the mastermind behind a proprietary software program that instantaneously turns numbers into letters. His telecommunications industry competitors license this software. This shared usage tool is fast becoming the industry standard. The lion’s share of the revenue growth in 2009 flowed from licensing fees associated with this shared usage and other telcom related tools.
Custom Toll Free assists in 800 number acquisitions. The company also handles development and management of existing toll free number inventories. This includes search and location of unique toll free vanity numbers and shared usage management.
Rugh’s Aha Moment:
The “aha” moment for Custom Toll Free came to Rugh as he was sifting through 20,000 case files of bankrupt companies back in the mid 1990′s. He noticed that heavy equipment and other assets were selling for pennies on the dollar. He also discovered that vanity phone numbers retained tremendous value.
On his first big score, Rugh noticed that one number of a particularly colorful nature was getting a great deal of traffic. He found the owner of the number, acquired the rights to it, and subsequently cashed in on its mis-dial value. This combination of Sherlock Holmes curiosity and savvy negotiating have worked to Rugh’s favor as he’s grown Rugly Holdings Inc. from a simple idea to a thriving telecommunications and marketing corporation.
Engaging Speaker, Tell-it-Like-it-Is Blogger, and More:
In addition to his leadership of Rugly Holdings, Inc, Rugh is also an engaging and award-winning speaker and a tell-it-like-it-is blogger (www.chrisrugh.com) who believes in working hard, playing hard, and enjoying the journey every step of the way. Chris has been refining his speaking talent since 1995 with Toastmasters. He is a long-standing member of the prestigious Entrepreneurs Organization (www.eonetwork.org) and serves on its board as well as runs the local chapters mentorship program helping smaller company’s produce over one million dollars in revenue. He is a founder and board member for BloopCamp, a non-profit artist collective where he has done fun and interesting things like build an electric car from scratch. He is also a strong advocate for social justice and a lifetime member of the ACLU.
Here are a few anecdotes about Rugh that speak volumes about his passion for risk taking, doing the right thing, and making a difference:
Rugh has walked over hot coals multiple times, and he’s never yet been burned.
He paid for his sister’s college education so his mom could retire two years earlier than planned.
Rugh’s favorite movie is “Fight Club” because it tells the story of eeking out every bit of life out of every moment, but doing it in a crazy way.
His proudest moments are those when people call him to say that the business insights he shares contribute decisive, stunning impact on their success.
Rugh earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations and advertising from Grand Valley State University. He lives in Seattle, WA.