Blake Myers is an entrepreneur. He partners in ownership of Universal Manufacturing Corp, located in Westchester, Illinois, and is the Chief Executive officer. The company launched in 2013 and operated out of Illinois, New York, and Florida. The company provides a collaborative service to assist new inventors through the multilayered process from conception to shelf.
Blake is married and has two children. He spent the past 15 years with a record of success in the new product industry in sales and services. He also spent several years as a successful mortgage broker.
He went to college for economics at Illinois State University. But his first focus in junior college was art. Universal Manufacturing Corp combines both aspects of his education. It was only natural that he would open his own business, not only because of his education but because Blake Myers has a tremendous drive and ambition. He has been successful, but he appreciates the success of others. He has built his business structure with a foundation for all who are involved in this business to succeed as well. Blake takes great satisfaction in his business strategies as well as the way he has structured his company. His most satisfying day came when he produced his first product in his own business.
When he is relaxing, Blake is an artist. He enjoys drawing and art. He is not limited to the visual arts, he is also very much focused on martial arts. He has been practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, for the past six years and began practicing Muay Thai four years ago. He also enjoys horse racing and is an avid reader on the biographies of great horses.
How did you get started in Universal Manufacturing Corp? What inspired you to start this business?
I wanted to create new products in my own way. I started in the industry when I was hired at a new product development company years ago. I learned the ins-and-outs of the business. I also learned what I liked and what I didn’t like. I worked with clients for about ten years in new product development. I developed contacts and built relationships with both buyers and retailers. One of my colleagues in manufacturing connected me with a Chinese manufacturer. That opened up a whole new world for me. I became real savvy with critical information. I was able to start my own manufacturing company. We were able to start making the connections we needed to create Universal Manufacturing Corp.
How do you make money?
We make money for our services. We have a process that we follow with each client. Our clients bring their ideas to us for their products and we in turn, give our full time and attention and focus to each individual product. We determine what it will require to bring the idea to fruition. The designs can be three dimensional or a computer-aided design, there are many options. Following the design is the planning and production. We promote products through email or go through the client’s agent. We also do a lot of trade shows as well. The entire process can take anywhere from 4-24 months. Once a product has been successfully placed on a shelf. We make money on orders.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I would say it took over a year to really become profitable.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I never had a doubt. The hardest part of the business is getting the product on the shelves and getting the buyers interested. It is all up to the buyers to market the product. It is a long and tedious process. Most of our clients have patents. Some of them have done some marketing on their own, so they have some idea of how this works, and what we go through to accomplish the task. But, it is consistently educating people on the process from the inception of the product to the time the product lands on the shelf.
How did you get your first customer?
We look through patents. If we like the patent and we think that we can produce a cost-effective product that is marketable, we call the patent holder. We will start the process by opening a discussion about the product and where we can take it. If discussions go well, we are on our way.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
One good tool for networking and developing new business is through trade shows. We meet a lot of inventors. People will bring ideas or products to us. We will get our own booth at a trade show if we have a product to show. If we do not have any product to show we do a little networking with retailers and buyers. Either way trade shows are good for business.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Our toughest decisions are always about what manufacturing facility we will be using for production. We have a few manufacturing companies that we use in the states, but most of the manufacturing is done in China. There are times when trying to find the right factory can be a challenge. You have to find the right factory to balance cost and quality. It has to be made with some margin of profit.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I think my success comes from my drive. I am an entrepreneur. I’ve done publishing. I was a mortgage broker. I can do any business. If I closed this business tomorrow, I would open another business. I have a very good head for business. I can formulate a strategy for any business. It is just something that I have been able to do quite naturally.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying moment was when I opened this manufacturing company. I had wanted to get out of the new product side which is the idea side of the business. I wanted to make the actual tangible product. The most satisfying moment in business for me is when we actually produced the first product at Universal Manufacturing Corp.
What business books have inspired you?
I have a couple of partners in the business. I leave the business books reading to them. I read my hobby books.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
We purchased our CRM software that tracks business and products. With the help of this software, our company has been able to increase our overall productivity and efficiency levels. We are also much better at keeping track of tasks and making sure we stay on top of projects. We definitely appreciate this software tremendously.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
There is a bright future for Universal Manufacturing Corp. We have a lot of new business and we have a lot of new products, we are growing. We would like to become a household name, but that is in the future.
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