Biz 417: Where did StepNpull originate?
Mike Sewell: Kelly (Coddington), Ron (Ely) and I were working together and wanted to be able to open doors while moving items. Kelly came up with the idea of something that allowed opening the door by stepping down and pulling with your foot. StepNpull was born in 2007.
Biz: How was business early on?
M.S.: We had low expenses. We turned a nice profit, but it was a side business. We kept our jobs. We got orders for restaurants, entrance doors. Everything changed in March 2020.
Biz: How much did demand increase?
M.S.: Our sales multiplied by 70. Not 70 percent, 70 times. By mid-March, we already had a 10-day lead time. We found a second manufacturer in Joplin in addition to our Springfield manufacturer (StepNpull is predominately manufactured in the United States), but it still took two to three months to catch up.
Biz: How did you handle that much change in the middle of COVID-19?
M.S.: We had jumped to hundreds of emails every day. We got a business consultant, who advised us on accounting, a customer
database, website upgrades and savings. Then there were other worries. “Are we considered an essential business? Will we be shut down?” Ultimately, we were able to stay open.