A Chanute company has reached a deal to market its products in the national Lowe’s Home Improvement chain of stores.
Kenny Finley, Chief Executive Officer of GearHaul, and National Sales Representative Tommy Rodriquez got word Wednesday afternoon that they were one of three companies to receive purchase orders in their category after a tournament-style series of sales pitches.
“Basically, it was like American Idol,” Finley said.
They hope to have their SawHaul product on store shelves by Christmas. SawHaul is a vehicle-mounted sheath to transport chainsaws, and is available online as the original kit or the Snap-Lok style kit.
Finley did not release the purchase order price, but admitted it was six figures.
Before Labor Day, the company received an invitation to go to Charlotte, NC, for the “End of the Blue” pitch event.
The event had three levels of competition with increasing levels of Lowe’s executives. More than 600 companies in all categories were in the first level, but only the top five in each category got a “golden ticket” for the final round. SawHaul placed third of the three winners.
Finley and Rodriquez will remain in North Carolina until Nov. 13 for discussion on how many units will be ordered and the number of states where locations will stock it.
The product will initially roll out in rural and agricultural areas. SawHaul averaged 10,000 orders per year over the past two years.
They said Lowe’s executives were impressed by their enthusiasm for the product.
“They really liked our passion,” Finley said, adding that executives also liked the fact it was made in America and made in Kansas.
GearHaul has plans for other products on the Snap-Lok mount, including a bucket carrier, gasoline and oil carrier, and a weed-cutter carrier, which Lowe’s might sell in the future.
“This is literally just the tip of the iceberg,” Finley said. “They want to cover our full line.”
GearHaul’s other products include LogOX log carrying and handling tools, Chain Locker for cutting chain storage, and Bluegrass Flame fire starter.
The company has seven employees now and expects to add five more in the future. They constructed a warehouse, but outgrew that as soon as it was complete. Finley said they will expand in the near future, but not immediately.
“We’re expanding by the minute,” Finley said.
He does not know if Lowe’s has ever carried a Chanute-made product before.
“We think it’s pretty cool,” Rodriquez said.
The company has sales reps in McPherson and Park City, Utah, and is online at gearhaul.com