The following is a question-and-answer session with Steve Threet, the president of Everthere Carriers.
Staff Writer Tony Lombardo: What does Steve Threet want for Christmas?
Steve Threet: Oh, that's a good question ... Wow. (Becomes emotional during long pause) The reason you hit a nerve ... I look at things a little bit differently now than I have in the past. Family means a lot to me, and my son was in a bad car wreck almost three years ago. Three years ago in the first week in January. So, you know in this business when things get bad, they're never as bad as they could be, so there's nothing I'm more proud of than my children, and the only thing I want for Christmas is to see my children be happy ... And, I'm sorry to get emotional, but when you go through something like we did three years ago. My son was in a car wreck. It was pretty bad. There were several hours that we didn't know what to expect. There was a time where he didn't respond and it puts a lot of things in perspective.
Q: What was the most important decision you've made for Everthere this year?
A: I think that was when I quit my job back in March. We were at a point where we had to make some things happen. And that meant if you're going to realize your dream you have to get off the fence. I had a pretty well-established career with Westinghouse. I could have done a lot of different things with them, but you either have to commit to it or, you know, you stand there in the middle of the street and try to figure out which way to go. So, that was the biggest decision to actually commit to it.
Q: What missteps have been made in the past year?
A: There have been some missteps. One is that our product is a very visual product, and so it's a lot harder to understand. If you saw a single picture of it, you would never get the dynamics of the product. We started off in a few catalogues. Our marketing, I think, has been our weak side. We started off in a few catalogs, and I think in hindsight it would have been the last place we would have gone, because people don't get the true feel for the product. I wish that we had developed our Web site earlier because the Web site, being more dynamic, you get a better feel for the product. Weakness in marketing has probably been the biggest, but I think we are on the road to correcting a lot of that. I really think we've laid a foundation this year for just a very upside next year. There are a lot of partners we have. Ducks Unlimited. I met yesterday with Wild Turkey Federation. There are a lot of companies we are still in negotiations with.
Q: What is the state of the patent process, and is it coming to an end?
A: We anticipate to hear something back in the very near future. Our initial response from the patent office was actually better than we anticipated. We believe we should hear something in the next 30 to 45 days. Understanding now, we have several patents in routing. Elaborate a little bit on the initial response - we hoped to get wide coverage and it looks like we will get wide coverage.
Q: What does that mean, wide coverage?
A: It means that you know a lot of people will talk about how it's easy to get around a patent. Well, it's easy to get around a poorly worded patent. One of the things we've done well was Dority & Manning - that must have been two years ago. But Dority & Manning was a great intellectual property firm and they helped us to write a patent that's got some teeth into it. Meaning that it's not easy to get around. Like, for instance, if I wanted to patent your shirt, I could write it as a gray shirt with buttons with a pocket on the left-hand side or I could write it as a material made out of cloth that fits around your neck, you know what I'm saying? And you can write them that way. But different attorneys will write them different ways. And one of the things that's really important is that you do get good coverage with your patent.
Q: What are going to be the major issues you face this coming year?
A: Our growth. Our growth is going to be one. Managing our growth is going to be the biggest concern. And the issues that includes - that includes staff and capital.
Q: What changes need to occur before this company can further grow?
A: We're going to establish a larger sales force. We're establishing some great relationships with some teaming companies that have similar products, but we need to have a sales force that's centrally here. I would say development of the sales people is the next thing we have to focus on.
Q: Where do you see Everthere Carriers in the next 10 years?
A: We're going to be big. You will see a lot of folding cargo carriers in the United States. We believe we have a product that every American household will benefit from and we have accessories in the works that will help complement them and help make things easier to use and to travel. And we think anybody that does anything outdoors is going to think they have a benefit from our product, and I honestly believe that Everthere will be as big to Augusta as E-Z Go and Club Car are today.
Q: Do you plan on remaining in the Augusta area?
Q: Why is that?
A: This is our home. Now that doesn't mean we won't have offices at different locations. But, as far as I'm concerned, this will always be our central headquarters.
Q: Will Everthere's manufacturing move overseas?
A: We're looking into it. I mean, we are exploring every opportunity we have. We're looking at everything from redesigns to manufacturing in certain locations. So, do I anticipate that at some point we will have some manufacturing done? I do. I think that will happen. Do I think that we will continue to do business with Jebco? I hope we have a very long relationship with Jebco. They've been very good to us and I think we've in turn been good to them. But I do think that our volumes will be such that there will be a need to have different offices and then different manufacturing locations.
Q: How will your role as president change in the future?
A: As we expand, there's going to be issues that I can't resolve every day. I mean, I do a lot of daily stuff - work with design of the carrier and lay out all the parts issues and some of the design issues. I also work with the financial side of it and I also work with some of the marketing side. There may be a time where I might want to step into a different role, then we might find out who that person would be to potentially assume one of the responsibilities that I assume now.