Thinking about starting your own business? Read the successful story of Gary Rogers, owner of Snow Removal Systems. It shows what it takes to produce and sell a unique new product despite many challenges, especially in a period of economic downturn. Gary credits SCORE's Jerry Zyskowski with helping him succeed.
When he was a teenager, Gary came up with an idea of applying heat/recirculated water for removing snow, which can be a major deterrent to commerce. In certain areas nothing moves until the snow is removed.
Caught up with everyday living, Gary put this snow melting idea aside. He concentrated his energies into a long and successful career in the ski/sporting goods business.
About 12 years ago, Gary started talking to potential buyers, such as cities, airports, and resorts about his proposed melting device. He found strong interest in his heat exchanger/circulation concept. He built a prototype in 2000 to get something into the marketplace by the following year.
As the company managed to get through the learning curve on developing the full size working prototype, Gary began to think about moving into the production cycle. "I was concerned with the production process costing and felt that I needed some outside help moving forward. My accountant recommended that I contact SCORE." With advice from SCORE's Jerry Zyskowski, engineer Mark Soderberg, manufacturer Carl Maxey, Dick Law, the burner and controls supplier, and Eric Dunn helping out with operations, Gary's company succeeded in producing tow-behind snow melting units. Funding for the manufacture of the new tow-behind melting units was provided through the SBA. The SBA loan process was quick and efficient. "I would go back to the SBA at any time to discuss further funding."
Success with these tow-behind units was not enough. Company growth was limited by a lack of sufficient funding. Although Gary sold limited partnership stocks in the company, progress remained slow.
Due to the limited finances and the downturn of the economy, the company experienced a decline in its business. There was hardly any municipal market for snow removal equipment.
Gary sold his inventory. However, his company recently landed new orders from both domestic and overseas customers because of the unique advantages offered by Snow Removal Systems. Its patented snow melt process is the most effective and environmentally friendly method available in the global marketplace. One major advantage is that it does not have the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning inherent in competing systems that use a submersible combustion melt process. (Details available at www.snowremovalsystems.com)
Gary is optimistic about his company's future. His business experience is a strong asset. He discovered it is imperative to always be above board and communicate honestly with his suppliers, banks and customers. He is confident Snow Removal Systems will continue to be a strong and successful business.