When Kane and Jennifer Carmody were growing up, their dad waged war with a stop sign. They never imagined that one-man showdown between a lawn mower and a sign post would lay the groundwork for their future business venture.
“When we were young, there was a stop sign in the front yard,” Kane explains. “We had to mow around it, and it was always getting chopped up. Dad wanted to protect the bottom part of it, so he came up with an idea in the early ‘90s.”
That idea was a piece of vinyl that would fit around the bottom of the post and protect it from mowing and trimming, but it never moved beyond the concept stages. Until Kane and his sister grew up, bought houses of their own, and encountered similar problems with cedar fences. They reached out to their dad to see if he was interested in resurrecting the idea, and Post Shields was born.
Well, sort of.
National Sale Leads to Incorporation
Like most entrepreneurial ventures, things got off to a slow start. Kane and Jennifer teamed up to buy a 3D printer, but creating the individual panels that connect together to form a square or circle around the post was a laborious process that took 3-4 hours per panel. They brought in a friend who did CAD drawings, another one familiar with plastic extrusion, bought a saw for cutting, and improved the efficiency enough to be able to create small production runs to get started. They’d already had some success selling on Amazon, but were ready to take things a step further.
Next stop? The National Hardware Show. Ace Hardware liked their product and agreed to put it into their retail service centers nationwide. That’s when the Carmody siblings realized they had a small problem.
“We had just sold a product we didn’t have from a company that didn’t exist,” Kane recalls. They had to file vendor paperwork and incorporate, a process that took 7-8 months. They also needed office and warehouse space and signed a lease with Janesville’s Old Towne Mall. Despite the building’s historical appeal and cheap rent, the basement space wasn’t ideal for their growing business: semi trucks were dropping off 6-8 pallets in the street, and unpacking and carrying the boxes downstairs took an entire day with each shipment.
Janesville Innovation Center Offers Perfect Solution
Fortunately, there was a solution. The Carmodys had met with Mike Matthews at the Janesville Innovation Center and he encouraged them to become a tenant there. The rent was higher than they had been paying at Old Towne Mall, but within a month the decision to relocate had already paid off.
“That month we had 20 pallets come in,” Kane says. “With pallet jacks and a dock, it took us 20 minutes versus at least a day at our old location.”
The Janesville Innovation Center offered plenty of additional benefits, from conference room space to the camaraderie between other tenants — startups like themselves, experiencing the same highs and lows that accompany any new business venture. Through it all, they found the mentorship required for success.
“Mike Matthews has been a wonderful guide for our business,” Kane shares. “Janesville Innovation Center is an amazing place that fosters healthy startup business growth. You have the absolute best possibility to grow your business there.”
If you’re interested in learning more about protecting fence and sign posts from damage, Post Shields’ website has a solution perfect for your needs. And if you’re a new company looking for a business incubator setting, check out Janesville Innovation Center.