C.R.S., Inc./Spud Spikes
Tell us about your business.Our business began in 1976 when we started providing a hands-on service to our customers. Whether remodeling homes, writing how-to books, columns and articles, presenting live presentations on stage, or selling home improvement products through e-commerce sites, our business is all about helping individuals with their projects. My hands-on experience, combined with being a cook in the Army National Guard, launched our business to where we’re at today. We’re all about creating the best gourmet seasoning bends and food utensils to help cook potatoes and brats faster and taste better in the process. We help our fellow tailgaters, backyard barbequers, and oven bakers deliver the ultimate best-tasting potatoes in less time, and enhance other food items with our gourmet seasoning blends—whether it’s in the oven, on the grill, or in the barbeque.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.Our workspace is nothing fancy—we have a home office and a small workshop where we debur our Spud Spikes potato nails, and process, package, and ship products to our wholesale and retail customers. The day will come, however, when we will outgrow our present location. That will be the time to search for a perfect setting to expand our business outside of our home—and that will be a great accomplishment on the road to success!
What inspires you?I am an artist and creator by nature. I love to create, build a better mousetrap, and solve problems. If there’s a way, I will either figure it out on my own or collaborate with other creative minds. That’s the artist and entrepreneur in me—“can’t” is not in my vocabulary. By the time I started kindergarten I was building go-karts, and at the age of 13 I built a full-size pigeon coupe from old, used nails that I straightened out. Who knew that 47 years later I would be making my own food-grade stainless steel potato nails and gourmet seasonings? I love it when my customers come up to me at consumer shows and say they have finally mastered baking potatoes after using our Spud Spikes Baked Potato System—or other customers who have tried all three of our gourmet seasoning blends before finding “the one” and then purchase an armload full. Meeting customers and listening to their feedback (positive or negative) only pushes us harder to build high-quality, American-made products.
What makes your business stand out?Simply put—you can reach us by phone. What a concept! Even with all of the technology that’s available out there, if you want to talk with me personally, pick up the phone and call. I love talking with people and helping them with their particular needs—whatever they may be. Our world is changing and things are moving faster than ever; our communication is falling off the sidelines with all of the social media at our fingertips. We need to slow down and get back to our roots and start communicating with each other face to face. So many problems can be solved through face-to-face communication. We stand out because we don’t hide behind voicemail, but rather stand out in front of our potential and returning customers—we are approachable and reachable. It’s that simple!
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?My advice to young entrepreneurs is to believe in yourself and your product(s). Do your homework so you understand the market you are going after. And most importantly, take baby steps. You need to crawl before you walk, and you have to walk before you can run. Reach your goals through smaller markets as you work your way up the ladder. Being an entrepreneur can directly affect your personal life. You’ll need a special partner by your side as you travel down this bumpy road to success. Knowing that the business world will not always greet you with open arms and that consumers are not always supportive will help you to think outside the box in your business dealings. Success rarely, if ever, happens overnight. It takes time. You just have to decide what level of success you are trying to achieve, and how long you plan to invest your time before reaching that desired level of success. You’ll definitely work hard for the entrepreneurship title!
What does American Made mean to you?To me, “Made in America” is the highest level of achievement we can conquer. I personally rely on other U.S. manufacturers to help in the manufacturing process of our Spud Spikes product line. It has not been an easy road—so many American manufacturers have forgotten where they started and are not so willing to help other entrepreneurs to reach their goals. The cost to manufacture and produce products in America is much higher unless you can take full control of the entire manufacturing process. In doing so, you also have to educate your prospective customers on the investment in quality products that you offer, which helps secure more jobs in America. I personally get excited when I look at our products’ packaging and see the logo “Made in USA”!
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