Originally created 07/31/05

Family support is important to fulfilling dream



EDITOR'S NOTE: Building a Business is a yearlong series in which The Augusta Chronicle follows the progress of a local startup company, Everthere Carriers LLC, as it attempts to take its fledgling product to a national market. The following is the seventh story in the monthly series.

Everthere Carriers LLC is growing fast and nearing deals with some of the nation's largest retailers. Behind every hour its principals spend on the road making phone calls or wooing clients, though, is the support of wives, children, siblings and in-laws.

For Kim Threet, the wife of Everthere President Steve Threet, commitment to the Martinez-based startup company is rock-solid.

"The stress we've been through has been worth it so far," Mrs. Threet said.

Since coming up with the idea for a folding automobile cargo carrier in 2002, Mr. Threet and his partners have taken their product from the drawing board to production and to market through catalogs and small retailers.

They've also made great leaps of faith, such as when Mr. Threet quit his job at Savannah River Site to work at Everthere full time.

"Even if Steve quit his job and Everthere didn't work out, it's been a great time all the way," his wife said.

If there's anything she learned during the more than 10 years she's operated her own business, it's that family support means everything to making the dream come true.

"There are no words to express that," she said. "There's no way to get by with your own business if you do not have the support."

For Mrs. Threet, who owns the 30-employee medical transcription company PRN Digital Transcription, helping her husband was payback for all of the years he supported her as she expanded her business.

"We're both interested in each other's success. Steve goes to my doctor's offices and sets my clients up on the computer. He helps me with my business a lot more than I help him," she said.

Having such family support means everything, Mr. Threet said.

"I always said that if I have to go dig a ditch tomorrow, then I know Kim would be in there with me," he said.

Although Everthere's growth so far has been rapid, the company has hit a plateau while it waits to hear whether its product will be picked up by several major retailers.

"It's a little frustrating. It's not like I don't believe it's going to happen," Mr. Threet said, "I just wish I could speed it along."

The waiting game has kept many of the company's principals, and their families, crossing their fingers.

"We're investing time into something with the potential to benefit us in the future," said Susan Mason, the wife of company principal Jack Mason.

Mr. Mason usually has Fridays off from his full-time job as an electrician at SRS. Lately, he's been spending them in the shop at Everthere, and often with his wife. When it's time for a business trip, she and their and two young children often come along.

"When Jack has to go to Alpharetta (Ga.) to pick up carriers, we just all pile into the car and go together," Mrs. Mason said.

Things are a little easier for the Threet family, whose two kids are college age. Mr. Threet, who frequently traveled when working for Westinghouse, can now take someone along.

On a recent business trip to Memphis, Tenn., Mr. Threet took his 20-year-old son, Trevor, and they spent a night at one of the city's blues clubs.

"It was great; we have some of the best conversations," Mr. Threet said. "He's my buddy."

Although family bonds outside the business are close, they also come into play within Everthere - Mr. Threet's partners Jack and Travis Mason also are his brothers-in-law.

Mr. Threet said he doesn't let family ties get in the way of work.

"Clients don't want to do business with a family; they want to do business with a business," he said.

To keep clean lines between business and family in the workplace, ground rules and policies must be set so that everyone knows what is permissible behavior, said Kristi McMillan, the associate director of the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Georgia's Kennesaw State University.

Although there are some pitfalls to family-run businesses, there are many benefits, too.

"It helps to know that we have that high level of trust," Travis Mason said.

The strong family ethic at Everthere helped Mr. Threet make the decision to bring in partner George Pocisk, 58, of Columbia.

"One thing that attracted me to George was his belief in family. His sense of family is strong like mine," Mr. Threet said.

Since meeting at a trade show in February, the two have hit it off and Mr. Pocisk has become a valuable addition to the company as its head marketer, he said.

Mr. Pocisk's wife, Ann, sometimes goes on sales trips with her husband, said she's happy that he's happy.

"I haven't seen him this excited in a long time," she said.

Like Mrs. Threet, Mrs. Pocisk is hoping for big results from Everthere.

We're already talking about how if this goes really, really well, our main thing we'd like to do is take our kids and grandkids and have a really nice vacation together somewhere," she said.

Mr. Threet said he's confident that things will work out for the company and that the major contracts he's working on will come to fruition.

"We've known we've had a winner for a year and a half," he said.

Reach Adrian Burns at (706) 823-3352 or adrian.burns@augustachronicle.com.

Everthere Carriers

Location: Martinez

Started: Company officially was formed in August 2003; was conceptualized in late 2002.

Its product: A lightweight aluminum carrier that plugs into a trailer hitch and folds out to provide a cargo platform

Company line: At 26 pounds, the carrier is much lighter than those of its competitors. It also folds up and is easily carried and stowed away, something that's not offered by other companies.

Cost: About $250 (price varies)