I’m the founder and chief executive officer of SCRUBBLADE, Inc., a Southern California, private company. Scrubblade produces and markets our own patented, scrubbing windshield wiper blades and glass treatments for cars and trucks.
SCRUBBLADE, Inc. has grown its market share and increased its revenues every year since its humble beginnings in 2006. We now ship products to all fifty states, a number of foreign countries, and regularly present at trade shows nationwide. The SCRUBBLADE™ product line has permanent placement in every truck stop nationwide, which include Pilot/Flying J, Love’s, T.A. Petro, and MHC. Scrubblade has also been featured in Walmart, AutoZone, and other retail stores. Many more big plans are on the horizon.
Our primary product started as an idea which occurred to me on a road trip through Northern California. Design innovations resulting in a new, much more efficient windshield wiper blade, led to a working prototype. In 2006, I produced and presented to the world on the ABC television show American Inventor. Out of thousands of entries, I placed in the show’s top twenty-five—and knew from that point on that I had a winning product idea.
Another four years of hard work, investment, and undying belief in my SCRUBBLADE™ wiper design, enabled me to finally begin reaping financial rewards and hiring employees. My goal from the very beginning has been to work for myself, help others, and allow maximum time to be spent with my own young children, watching them grow. Time, after all, is the one thing you can’t get back when it’s gone. I like to think this sentiment, likewise, inspires our company motto: “Life’s a journey. Get a clearer view.”
How did the concept for Scrubblade come about?
I was driving home from a road trip in the evening and a large bug hit my windshield. I proceeded to use the wipers and washer fluid which caused a large 4″ smear directly in my line of site. I had a couple-hour drive from the nearest gas station to properly clean the smear. During that time, oncoming lights would glare off the smear and it was very annoying and dangerous. That is when the “aha” moment hit me, and the name Scrubblade popped in my head immediately. I returned home that weekend and sketched out a drawing that hangs in our office to this day.
How was the first year in business?
First year in business was exciting and slow. I thought I would be a millionaire overnight, because I knew how much better Scrubblade cleaned the windshield over a normal wiper blade. I think we did $12,000 in sales and quickly learned that it is not going to be an easy road.
What was your marketing strategy?
After I figured out which market to go after, we charged all-in towards the trucking industry. I thought, “Who better to use a scrubbing wiper blade than a trucker who drives over 100,000 miles a year in different elements and environments?” This would also help me to fine-tune the product by getting feedback, both good or bad. To this day, that was the best direction I could have gone with SCRUBBLADE. Today, we are the #1 wiper blade sold in the trucking and travel stops, and that business has allowed our company to flourish.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Not very fast. The wiper industry is very competitive and controlled by large and established companies. If I would have known how massive our competitors were in the beginning, I may not have started down the road. We had financial struggles the first few years, barely paying our bills and being able to afford inventory to stay in business. Year five is when we finally started to breathe, and were able to start to see the fruits of our labor.
How do you define success?
I define success by being able to financially take care of my family and our employees’ families. Over the journey, we have had so many successes, large and small, and we celebrate them all. We are in a good place and growing right now, but still see the huge potential for continued growth and future success.
What is the key to success?
Consistency, a bit of luck, a great team, and a never-ending drive to reach your goals.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Read every contract/agreement, no matter how much you trust the person or business. After you read it, send it to an attorney. It may cost you some extra money, but well worth it to know what you’re signing. Plus, nothing will come back to bite you in the butt.
What are some quotes that you live by?
The hard road brings the biggest rewards. Just because something works, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Hmm, I would say when I had a gentleman who I worked with and considered a “mentor” take advantage of me and threatened to wreck everything I had built. When you give everything to one idea, your family financially-depends on you, and when someone threatens that, it causes some sleepless nights. That takes me back to my lesson learned point above.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
What pushes me to keep moving forward, is that I have no plan B. I think you have to have that type of drive in order to be successful at anything. Look at the negative and figure out how you can turn it to a more positive situation.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Be prepared for all stages of your business’ life cycle. It’s never fun to be scrambling, trying to figure out a new hire, how to fill an order, or correct accounting, etc. Hire a consultant if you feel stuck in your business. People go to marriage counseling, hire sports coaches, but rarely choose to hire a business consultant. I did that and it was the best thing I ever did to help me get to the next level. Be appreciative, be polite, and treat everyone, no matter their position, with respect.
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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