Luke Kuschmeader started his first business at 16 years old.
“I’m a bit of a serial entrepreneur,” he said. “Even from a young age, I was pretty set on owning my own company.”
He’s come a long way from his days of mowing lawns as a teenager and constructing homes as a young adult.
A decade ago, Kuschmeader sold his construction business to form Kuat Innovations LLC. He declined to disclose revenue, but said the company is recording double-digit growth. And in two months, his operations team and warehouse will move to a $3.5 million, 40,000-square-foot warehouse.
“We’ve been consistently growing our staff since we started, and we are out of space in our offices and our warehouse,” he said. “This gives us room to grow our operations.”
The business that creates bike racks was born from his love of the outdoors and mountain biking.
“It took many years and many of (the racks) failed horribly,” Kuschmeader said. “I found a passion for designing products.”
He’s formed a team of 28 people who focus on research and development, marketing, sales and customer service. All manufacturing is done offshore in China and Taiwan.
His bike racks are currently sold in 14 countries, and next month Kuat will launch a ski rack.
Kuschmeader said he’s heavily involved in Kuat’s R&D, but his top role is in hiring.
“You rely on your team so much,” he said.
Early on, Kuschmeader approached local investor Guy Mace to fund the company.
“If you don’t need outside investors, that’s great,” he said. “In our position, we did. “When you’re looking at starting a company, you have to just be realistic about what you’re bringing to the table and what you need.”
He said Springfield is the right place for his growing company. “You can’t compete with Colorado and Utah, but the cost of living is great,” he said. “These are our roots.”
In the first few years of the company, Kuschmeader said he spent nearly “every waking hour” thinking about work. These days, he tries to strike a healthier balance.
“I consider myself an active father, a present father,” he said. “But there’s no question that being self-employed has its toll.”
He likens entrepreneurship to riding a roller coaster. It wasn’t until 2011 when Men’s Journal featured Kuat Racks for “gear of the year” that Kuschmeader felt he had made it.
“We had three or four employees at the time, and Ducati was on the other page,” he recalled. “It was a proud moment.”
The goal is not to be the biggest company in the industry; rather he said it’s to be “perceived as the best with the highest quality.”
He takes each victory with a grain of salt.
“Regardless of how smooth everything seems, you’re just one day away from an incredibly stressful time,” he said.
SBJ compiles news on the respiratory virus outbreak.
Taylor Otwell, CEO of Laravel, says don’t be afraid to bring employees on board. Otwell says you want to protect your business, but the increase in productivity is worth it. Duration: 0:31
Megan Short, executive director of Springfield Contractors Association, says potential employers are looking at your social media accounts. She says keeping your profile professional and managing …
Singer-songwriter Justin Larkin says moving to virtual performances is similar to his busking days. He says services like Venmo and Virtual Tip Jar provide some income, but fall short of paying …
Lucas Walker, says business today is the same game with new rules. Walker, with independent consultants Mary Overbey and Damion Trout says now is the time to be flexible, evaluate what works and …
Speaker, coach and writer Erika Gerdes, says overwhelm is very real for her. Managing a career and household as a single parent means prioritizing the things that are most important. Duration: …
Richard Ollis, CEO of Ollis/Akers/Arney, says he wishes there was a handbook for living in a pandemic. Ollis recommends treating others with grace, appreciation and maybe we’ll develop new ideas …
Sarah Walters, organizational leadership coordinator with Evangel University says partnering builds a sense of community. She says building relationships and networking are just two advantages to …
Ronald Baron, senior founding counsel of Hoffman and Baron, LLP says maintaining a healthy work life balance is important, but challenging. He says diet, exercise and being deliberate about family …
Boys & Girls Clubs CEO Brandy Harris says learning to slow down and listen helped her craft a well-informed strategic plan for the organization. She also stresses the important of being adaptable and …
Brian Fogle, president of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks says they have pivoted to focus on recovery oriented issues. He says many nonprofits have a higher demand for services while …