June’s 1 Million Cups meeting included presentations from local entrepreneurs about a nationally-recognized equine facility and an innovative way to utilize plastic buckets.
Sedalia is one of 88 communities across the country to launch 1 Million Cups, which is designed to educate, engage and connect entrepreneurs. Wednesday morning, members of the local business community sipped on coffee in the Thompson Conference Center at State Fair Community College as they learned about The Original Bucket Stool and Von Holten Ranch.
Jim Kammeyer, of Cole Camp, originally of Concordia, where RWK Co. is located, spoke to the group about his father’s invention, the Bucket Stool. The product is a black, plastic four-legged stool that can sit on top of a plastic bucket, making it a convenient place to sit while fishing, tailgating or doing other outdoor activities.
Kammeyer noted there are similar wooden products, but theirs has something that allowed for its own patent.
“There was one through the patent process about 20 years ago. What allowed us to get the patent was that right there — ours fits on as a lid,” he explained as he demonstrated the product. “It allows you to still use your bucket as a seat, but you’re elevated. If you’re fishing and you catch a fish, you can put the fish right in the bucket.”
The product is manufactured in Excelsior Springs and will be sold primarily through online sales. A few “mom and pop” stores were selling the product, and they can be found on Amazon.com. The product’s website, www.bucketstool.com, will have an online store in a few weeks.
“Our original idea was to get into the retail market, brick-and-mortar. We wanted that retail exposure, people like to see the product, touch the product. The challenge with that is this is our only product, it’s a single SKU. As much as people like it, we have a hard time getting into the retail market,” Kammeyer said. “… So what we did, the last eight months, we went to a lawn and garden show in Springfield, the last day we sold out of product. This told us people like it, they were buying it for all different reasons.”
He said he decided on the strategy of online sales after learning about SpotterCone’s website, a company that was featured at May’s 1 Million Cups meeting.
“We hope to be engaged directly with consumers,” Kammeyer said. “We’re going to try to do some video demonstrations online, re-target customers. The big challenge we’ll have is trying to replicate what happens when we’re at a home and garden show. We know this is an impulse buy.”
Kammeyer answered a question about the company’s biggest hurdles by saying “being naive and having the wrong manufacturer too far away,” as they originally had the product manufactured in Wisconsin.
Brandy Von Holten spoke about Von Holten Ranch, in Mora, which she runs with her husband, David. It began as an equine trail riding facility in 2014 and the couple is opening a wedding and event barn this year that is being built with materials from a barn that was on the farm in 1906. The business is on David’s family’s century farm, which the couple purchased shortly before starting the ranch.
“My husband and I had the best paying jobs of our lives and had land in Higginsville with seven years left to pay on it. Whenever he came home and said ‘my dad said we can buy the farm,’ 30 days later we bought it,” Von Holten said. “… Our property sold too fast and we were homeless. I have three college degrees and I was homeless and we had to live in my horse trailer for awhile to make this happen.”
The facility hosts various national, regional and state equine-related competitions, such as the recent State Extreme Cowboy Riding competition, birthday parties, camps, and other events. It has 40 RV sites, 108 stalls, a heated guest shower house, three cabins, 25 miles of trails, a boarding barn and a covered arena. Von Holten said her goal is for the facility to “become a hub for the equine industry of the United States.”
“I put a lot of pride in things people just blow past because we’re 300 acres and what we lack in quantity, I make up for in quality,” she said.
The facility is constantly busy, with 65 events already booked for 2016, not including the wedding barn. Impressively, the ranch is run by Brandy and David with no other employees, other than a college summer intern. Von Holten said she is trying to utilize grants to help offset costs. They are also looking to expand past equine and host events such as 5K runs, dog shows, barbecue competitions or a circus.
1 Million Cups meetings are free and open to the public. They are hosted at 9 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month. For more information about 1 Million Cups, visit www.1millioncups.com/sedalia.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.