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A Stellar Reputation for Customer Service
Rich Van Engers
It’s been over seventeen years, since Rich Van Engers discovered what is now the most popular innovative design for pet carriers. Over the years his brand, SturdiBag, has become the preferred pet carrier for professional trainers, breeders and animal lovers worldwide.
His company Sturdi Products, Inc., a family owned company, has gained a stellar international reputation for designing durable, yet uniquely attractive products for cats and small dogs.
It was seventeen years ago that Engers embarked upon this new endeavor. Here’s a question: What would you say is the most important element when starting a new business? One might say market research. This is true, but in Engers case, he defied the norm and became a successful entrepreneur and business owner. He didn’t know anything about market research, but he poured his heart and soul into making a product that he believed would meet a particular need. Today, Engers is a leading manufacturer of pet carriers and other related products.
“I had just been divorced. I was dead broke. I was riding my bicycle to work…when one day…I see somebody with their arms wrapped around this box, struggling, with a cat falling through the bottom. At the same time I see this canvas awning coming off this building,” says Engers.
Who would have thought that a cat falling out of a box and a canvas awning would change the pet carrier industry? It was that instance of inspiration that changed his life.
With no market research, how did Engers survive and eventually beat the competition — by constantly developing, testing and enhancing his product, but more importantly by listening to his customers and meeting their needs. He now realizes that market research is important and necessary to start any business. From his living room floor to an enormous warehouse, Engers built his brand through hard work and word-of-mouth.