A product hatched after a trip for Mexican food - a portable, folding cargo carrier- created a startup business that has grown since its inception. In the past year, readers have followed the leaders of Everthere Carriers LLC as they've signed deals, expanded into a new office and launched a product and accessories. Here's a recap of what the startup company has done during the past 11 months:
JANUARY: "An idea unfolds" - Everthere Carriers' growth starts slow. After 26 months of research and development, the company hunts for full-time manufacturers for the main product and its protective cloth cover. Early versions of the carrier have appeared in a catalog and are displayed at a local truck accessories store.
FEBRUARY: "Picking up sales" - More companies express interest in inking a deal with the startup as Everthere leaders gear up for a trade show with Ducks Unlimited in Charleston, S.C. The company hires T&G Apparel Inc. in Jefferson County, Ga., to produce the fabric cover.
MARCH: "Gaining ground" - Everthere President Steve Threet quits his supervisory job at the Savannah River Site to focus on the company. Sales continue to grow as company leaders prepare for the April 1 launch of the new waterproof storage bags.
APRIL: "Let's make a deal" - Everthere's newest partner, George Pocisk, a retiree from an insurance software partner, takes a lead in sales. High aluminum costs keep manufacturing costs high, but company leaders say they intend to keep production in the United States.
JUNE: "Finding a home" - Everthere, which operated for two years out of the founders' homes, moves into a 4,200-square-foot space at a Martinez industrial park on Commercial Boulevard. Leaders continue to try for contracts with major retailers.
JULY: "Sharing the load" - While Everthere attempts to increase its business, the leaders surround themselves with their families for love and support.
AUGUST: "Getting personal" - Everthere lands a deal for personalizing the carriers with licensed sports logos and camouflage patterns from Realtree, allowing buyers to customize the product. Everthere lands a deal with Tractor Supply Co.
SEPTEMBER: "GO, TEAM!" - Everthere increases its staffing to accommodate its growing workload. The company fosters a team atmosphere, culminating in a marketing contract with Camping World, a national retailer for outdoor travelers, that everyone played a role in securing.
OCTOBER: "On with the show" - Everthere unveils its new product, the Everthere Mobility Carrier - a two-piece device that incorporates a lift to allow people with disabilities to transport wheelchairs or scooters. The launch occurred in Atlanta at the Medtrade Conference & Exposition, attended by nearly 1,000 companies worldwide.
NOVEMBER: "Profit over patriotism?" - After meeting foreign business executives at the Atlanta trade show, Mr. Threet considers the possibility of moving production overseas, possibly to China, as a way to deal with high domestic manufacturing costs. Mr. Threet continues to wrestle with the decision.