This is a follow up story for Scrubblade Inc.. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Billy Westbrook and I reinvented the wiper blade making it more useful for motorists. Wiper blades haven’t evolved since Mary Anderson invented the first wiper blade in 1902. My company is called Scrubblade and our wiper blades clean your windshield beyond rain, removing bugs, dirt, and other road grime from impairing your vision. All other wiper blades are built with a single squeegee and no scrubbers, that design tends to create more smears for anything beyond rain.
Besides our scrubbing technology, we further separate ourselves from our competition by actually being involved with our customers, creating a lifestyle brand, giving back to our community, and supporting people with passion along the adventures of life.
Wiper blades are a very important part of a vehicle but often overlooked. Scrubblade is changing that. We have customers that purchase Scrubblade when they buy a brand new vehicle while adding other modifications like rims, suspension, bumpers, and other aftermarket parts. No wiper blade has that type of interest from enthusiasts. It’s really cool.
Currently, we are the #1 blade sold nationwide at retail in the Heavy Duty trucking/travel industry and quickly growing in the off-road, online, and automotive aftermarket.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
We are on pace to beat 2021 gross revenue by 58%!
We have consistently built the Scrubblade brand to be unique, offering our customers something they didn’t know they needed. We want to make wiper blades cool and something that you think of more than when it’s just raining and you can’t see the road ahead. We have all types of shwag like hoodies, T-Shirts, Koozies, air fresheners, and decals that help gain more exposure and make our brand relative.
Our product line has grown since our first interview. The current Scrubblade line consists of Scrubblade Heavy Duty, Scrubblade Platinum, our new Silicone Scrubblade, called Shade Blade where the wiping element comes in multiple colors, (Super cool) our eco-friendly washer fluid tablets, and soon a premium Glass Cleaner.
Our product line isn’t the only thing that has been growing, our revenue has been as well! We are on pace to beat 2021 gross revenue by 58%!
We can contribute to the growth of our marketing efforts online, social media, brand recognition, our current and new customers, philanthropic initiatives, and online business. Our current customers are still leading the growth which should be a learning lesson for everyone.
It’s great to gain new customers, but make sure you do not neglect your current customer. It’s more cost-effective to keep a customer than try to obtain a new one. Our online business is growing due to finely tuned ad campaigns on social media, text, and email.
Also, our ambassadors on social media have been a big help to get the word out on Scrubblade and make the brand cool. Our ambassadors are out at events, doing off-road meets, making content for us, and helping to grow the brand in a way that aligns with our culture.
Our online sales are up YTD by over 68%! We have a ton more room to grow and are very optimistic about the future of Scrubblade. We just gotta keep on keeping on!
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
The biggest challenge for Scrubblade in the past year is keeping enough inventory on hand to fulfill orders. It’s been a major challenge with all the importing delays and increased costs. Our shipping cost went up over 70%, that’s insane. All while the service and delivery times went down. Very frustrating but you can only control what you can control.
Many businesses went belly up due to increased shipping costs alone. Thankfully, we can pack 50,000 plus Scrubblade wiper blades in a 40ft container. That helps to spread out the cost per container and afford us an adequate amount of product to fulfill orders. Before the last couple of years, I strived to NEVER be out of stock for our customers. It would drive me crazy if that happened.
Now we have more inventory on hand than in the history of our business for the busy season. We opened up three new 3PL’s to accommodate the growth and to hold additional inventory, making sure we are not out of stock. “You never know how many sales you miss out on, being out of stock.” This will be the first winter season to have an abundance of products, so we will see how it goes!
We had to start forecasting our production orders way in advance to try and mitigate the current supply chain issue. Regardless of planning, sometimes things are out of your control.
Instead of having containers come in the way we planned them, staggered over months, we have a bunch all coming in at the same time, causing an overstock problem. It’s not if you have a challenge within the business, it’s when and how you and your team work together to figure it out.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Get up early and give the day everything you have but when 5 o'clock comes around, unplug.
We have been trying to expand into Canada and to do that we needed to have a distribution center there to quickly and efficiently ship customers. We opened up a 3PL, shipped products into the 3PL, and began to fulfill Canadian tires online orders for Scrubblade.
We were the first wiper blade to pilot the program for Canadian Tire so it’s a pretty big deal. About 6 months into the program the Canadian Tire dealers didn’t want HQ to be offering the same products online that they have in-store because they want customers coming into their stores. Understandable, wiper blades as being one of those items.
So after all the work, expense, time shipping the product up there, and internal strategy the deal for online was dead before it even got going. International business is tough and to date has never really been worth the effort for us. We still have the 3PL with product in stock and still working with Canadian Tire on hopefully gaining the in-store business, only time will tell. For now, we have inventory sitting in Toronto, so if you know anyone who wants to buy wiper blades in Canada, let me know!
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We are ready to land a national automotive retailer. I feel we are mature enough, have proven Scrubblade as a viable option when choosing wiper blades and operationally we can handle a business of that magnitude.
One of those accounts would award Scrubblade upwards of 20 million annually with a possibility of over 50 million depending on what lines we get placement for. To say we want that business would be an understatement. But, if it's not in the cards for us we will continue to grow without them, which is what we are successfully doing.
I think the Scrubblade name can lend itself to many other products, not necessarily just for the windshield of a vehicle. We’ll see what the future holds on line expansion, but I have never wanted to quickly grow the line for the following reasons: more inventory, more space, more cost, and more overhead. If you don’t have winners out of the gate they will start sucking capital and that could be a major setback for a privately held company. We strategically want to add lines that compliment our brand and benefit our customers.
I have been asked many times over the years about my exit plan. Honestly, I've never cared to have one with Scrubblade. Wiper blades are not going away anytime soon, I see the business continually growing and becoming more valuable.
At the end of the day, If I'm making a comfortable living, our employees are taken care of and we are growing, what’s the point of exiting? This mentality is starting to change for me as of late. If we want to grow and grab market share, maybe a strategic partnership is something to start thinking about. If I want to be at 50 million annually in the next 5 years what’s it going to take?
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
I have been watching documentaries more. For example, I find that seeing how Nolan Ryan (baseball pitcher) career started, the ups and downs, and then becoming one of the best at his sport and an amazing father and grandfather gives me the motivation to keep improving on me. Or the Joe Montana documentary is another great one! So cool to see how these two were not the best or most popular when they started but how both of their journeys ended up is nothing short of amazing. As a business owner and father, I get motivated by learning about others' journeys.
Besides documentaries, I have read a lot of kids' books, haha. Which teaches you about finding the silver lining in difficult situations, persevering, and how to treat people correctly. Also, what happens if you feed a moose a muffin? If you don’t know what happens, you should read that book.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Stay the course and be consistent. Consistency is the absolute key to becoming successful in any business. If you do something long enough and consistently enough, you will be a leader in that thing. Wake up every day and do what you need to do to stay healthy, stay focused and get your first customer or grow your current business.
Always look for different ways to set yourself or your brand apart from your competition. Have a story to tell. People connect with stored products more nowadays than ever. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, find inspiring pages that will give you crumbs of knowledge and inspiration that you can apply to your life and your business. Don’t look at what your competition is doing or you may start to replicate them and lose your differentiation which is why your customers work with you.
You have to have a positive mindset to start and grow any business.
I am a big fan of life/business balance. Get up early and give the day everything you have but when 5 o'clock comes around, unplug. If it can wait until tomorrow, let it. Spend time away from work so you’re fresh and ready to start the new day. It may take you longer to reach certain goals but your home life and family will be intact. At the end of the day, what’s money and success without your family or personal connections to enjoy it with?
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Looking for an in-house creative human to handle design, social media, marketing strategy, and onsite activations. Also, a salesperson is always welcoming. Someone who lives and breathes sales is a must.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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