Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Products: Locks, cables, wheel locks, trailer hitches, and bicycle carriers
An inventor at heart, founder and CEO Philip Wyers devises innovative locks and accessories that are manufactured in both Colorado and China.
Wyers has a problem. His company, Trimax Locks, is growing so fast that it has run out of space at its Centennial home.
Trimax, a subsidiary of the Wyers Products Group, is the leading lock manufacturer in the world for trailer tow security. "No one touches our assortment of trailer locks," Wyers says. "No one else out there offers what we do." The company's 58-page catalog is chock full of security devices with locks, led by its Razor adjustable tow hitch, plus bicycle carriers and even a device called a BugZooka that sucks up insects.
Wyers started out as a commercial real estate broker in Denver. But, he says, he had always wanted to invent and sell his own products. At the time, Wyers and his wife loved to ride bicycles. They were dissatisfied with the bicycle carriers available for automobiles, especially the roof-mounted models, so he designed his own trailer hitch carrier, which became his entry into the current company.
"Necessity is the mother of invention," Wyers says, thinking back to his original design. "I thought the future was a trailer hitch attachment [for bike carriers] and now that's what everyone has." He built a company around that model and then designed a bumper-mounted bike rack that sold through a number of large retailers like Costco.
Wyers wound up selling that original company and moved into locks and security products, although he later got back into bike carriers. He also developed a patent portfolio that now numbers more than two dozen. Three of those patents, for receiver lock technology used in towing applications, were the subject of a legal battle with the largest lock manufacturer, Master Lock, a decade ago.
Wyers filed a patent infringement suit in U.S. District Court against Master Lock, winning a $5.35 million judgment in 2009. The dollar amount later grew by several million dollars because of a recalculation of sales revenues Master Lock gained from the infringements, Wyers says. Master Lock also got out of the trailer receiver lock business.
Wyers declines to discuss his company's revenues because it is privately owned, but says sales have grown about 20 percent a year in recent years. Wyers Products occupies 20,000 square feet at its main facility in Centennial and rents another 15,000 square feet off-site for storage. Wyers started looking for new space in 2017, hoping to either build or lease a 45,000-square-foot plant nearby for Trimax Locks product distribution while keeping its current facility.
Some of that product are the locks that Trimax imports from China and then uses to fashion into a multitude of its products. Wyers says virtually all the lock mechanisms sold in the U.S. are made in China.
The tax restructuring passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in December will help Trimax in its expansion, Wyers says. The tax savings in the law for small businesses will help Trimax add equipment, including a CNC machine to machine and polish aluminum parts, and hire additional employees.
"Now maybe we can apply those savings to new equipment," Wyers says. "We need more space. We've outgrown what we have and have tons of product off-site. We're stumbling over ourselves here."
Wyers Products has introduced several non-lock products, including a defunct line of iPhone cases, the BugZooka device, and bicycle carriers. The BugZooka, introduced several years ago and mentioned in several national publications and TV shows, has been popular but the biggest seller is Razor tow hitch. The catalog also includes a number of bike racks that fit onto the Razor.
Trimax wants to hire more employees to help in its expansion. But Wyers says the company is lucky because many of its employees have been with Trimax a long time. "We're fortunate that a lot of key employees have been here for five, eight, 10, or even 20 years," he says. "That helps keep us stable in the long run."
Challenges: "Just managing our growth," says Wyers. "We need a new distribution facility."
Opportunities: "The economy is a real positive," Wyers notes. "The new tax structure will be beneficial, allowing us to expand operations."
Needs: Skilled labor. "Hiring good machine operators and manufacturing people," says Wyers. "We also need new facilities for expansion."