Grand Junction, Colorado
Industry: Built Environment
Products: Kitchen and closet organization systems
Founder Dave Hall has found the right partners to grow his manufacturer of innovative kitchen organization systems.
Glideware was born of a common problem: How do you store cookware without scratching each pan's non-stick coating?
Dave and Jenny Hall started the company in late 2012 after getting a set of non-stick cookware. "Before that, we stored it like everybody else does -- we stacked it and forgot about it," Dave says.
But Jenny said that wasn't an option with these pricier pots and pans, so the couple conceived a track- and hook-based system to vertically hang pots and pans in a kitchen cabinet. "She came up with the idea and I took it to the next level and built it," explains Dave.
Jenny, a decorator, and Dave, a homebuilder, had the perfect combined skill set, and friends began asking about the products, so the husband-and-wife team launched the company in early 2013.
Right off the bat, they looked into getting a patent, but weren't very optimistic. "I thought, 'This is so simple, it's not possible it doesn't exist,' but it didn't," Dave says.
To fund the patent process and operations, they launched a campaign on Kickstarter and raised about $34,000 in September 2013. As for manufacturing, they initially worked with a local cabinetmaker, but needed to hit higher volume and higher margins.
The solution came in the form of Longaberger Basket Company in Ohio. But the arrangement didn't last. In late 2014, company officials told the Halls that Glideware didn't fit into the company's long-term strategy. "That was a knee-wobbler," says Dave.
He persisted and found two new contract manufacturers in Ohio and Indiana. Finding more than one was strategic. "We got burned once," says Dave. "We were talking to some of the largest OEMs in the country. They told us, 'The worst thing you can do is not be able to deliver.'"
With two manufacturers, Glideware now has plenty of backup capacity and the ability to grow. "That's been opening doors for us," says Dave.
The Halls initially expected to largely resell through cabinetmakers, but there was strong interest from the general public from these first orders. "What we found was that it was so simple to install, it was popular with do-it-yourself types," says Dave. "All you need is a battery-powered drill -- that's it -- and it fits every cabinet on the market."
Glideware won a "Best in Kitchen" award at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas when it launched in February 2014. The company has since launched eight different products since the debut of Glideware, including organizers for pantries, closets, and outdoor kitchens. Sales grew by about 15 percent in 2016, and the forecast is for more in 2017. "We'll probably see our sales double this year," says Dave, projecting the company will pass surpass $1 million.
The company's new Not-So-Lazy Susan is a big part of his rosy outlook. The traditional lazy susan "is part of the kitchen that hasn't been innovated for 50 years," says Dave. The patent-pending Not-So-Lazy Susan brings Glideware's technology into the rotating corner cabinet and maximizes space.
The product's R&D process spanned more than a year before the official launch at KBIS in 2017, and Glideware partnered with a neighboring business in Timeless Millworks to develop it. "They literally were 10 steps from my door," says Dave. "We'd run two to three prototypes in a single day."
Challenges: "Setting up the distribution network and maintaining it," says Dave. "It's always, 'What have you done for me lately?'"
Growth -- and managing employees -- also presents a challenge. "We've never had employees," says Dave.
Opportunities: The company is in talks with three top cabinetmakers to provide their products as options to customers. "The Not-So-Lazy Susan is clearly this year's focus," says Dave. "Because we have distribution, that makes it easier to sell, but from a business standpoint, we are thinking of the next product already. We have three in development right now."
He sees diversifying from the kitchen focus as the key to continued growth: "Closets are the next big thing."
Needs: Capital. "The more successful you are, the more money you need. That never crossed my mind," says Dave. "Every time you launch a new product, you need more inventory, and that inventory drains your cash."
He says he's looking for a partner or some outside financing. "We're coming to a point where we're going to hit a brick wall."