With a year under its belt, this rolling stool manufacturer is looking to broaden its customer base. "Our main goal is to sell the idea that not only can you eliminate some of your workers’ compensation claims, you can also be more efficient using our stool,” said Bryan Whitely, sales manager for Tryke Products. Whitely’s goal might be a little unusual, especially considering the company’s history in the automotive industry, but it’s not out of line.
Dale Adams Enterprises, founded in 1976, launched its Tryke Products division a year ago. Tryke Products produces the Tryke Rolling Stool, a low riding, big wheeled rolling seat for work, home, and play. Initially, Tryke Products focused on selling its stool to the automotive industry. The company quickly realized it was selling itself short.
“We started brainstorming other markets that we could get into,” said Whitely. “Beforehand, making mechanic creepers, we were in a niche market, but with this rolling stool, we could broaden into everyday things and other markets.”
The first step to spreading the word about the product was finding a way to differentiate the company’s reputation in the automotive market. Originally, the stool’s name was a derivative of products the company sold before. With three wheels, the name Tryke just made sense.
Whitely’s fiancée works for a large drugstore chain, and one of the primary complaints he hears is that after being bent over all day stocking shelves, employees are often sore and move slower than they did when the day started. The company put two and two together and found another industry to target.
“We thought our stool was a better way to make their jobs more efficient while saving their backs and knees,” he said.
Tryke Products also introduced the Tryke Gamester, a chair for gamers, and it’s moving into the medical market by targeting doctors. Built using custom-blended polypropylene plastic rather than fabric, the stools are easier to clean and disinfect than fabric or other porous materials. In addition, common cleaners won’t hurt the finish, so it’s easy to maintain.
A great source of pride for the company is that its stools are 100% American made. As Tryke Products began expanding into new markets, this approach made adjusting its stools to its new clientele easier.
“Dale Adams believes that as manufacturing processes are going overseas, America is largely losing its ability to manufacture,” said Whitely. “He also likes to put food on the tables of the average American living and working in our area.”
A good portion of the products and raw materials that go into the Tryke stool are sourced within 20 to 30 miles of Kent, Ohio. Only its decals, which come from Illinois, and the plastic, which comes from Pennsylvania, are sourced outside that range. In addition, the company tries to stay with local suppliers rather than jumping around to find the best deal.
“It seems like a lot of larger companies only focus on price,” said Whitely. “We know what our suppliers have and that they’ll be ready to give us what we need when we need it. We feel that’s more important.”
In addition, if he has any questions about what’s going on with product, Whitely only needs to get in his car and drive 15 minutes to check out the process. And when Tryke Products wanted to adjust the color for each market and the wheels so they would work better on carpeting, a few phone calls did the trick.
“There are six vendors we work with to put each Tryke stool together,” said Whitely. “We rely on them to answer our calls, and they always do.”
Although independent from parent company Dale Adams Enterprises, which has been in business since 1976, Tryke Products uses the same spirit of innovation to develop its own line of product. “We’re always coming up with solutions for a problem we have, whether it is for one of our customers or in the shop itself,” said Whitely.
The idea of the rolling stool came from seeing too many mechanics rolling around on small, round, or rectangular padded stools in their garages. With one- or two-inch diameter wheels made out of hard plastic or steel, every little crack or piece of debris on the floor brings the ride to a grinding halt.
With a narrow footprint and a high center of gravity, the chance of falling or tipping over on a normal mechanic’s stool is too probable. “We wanted to develop a stool with larger, rubber-coated wheels so it wouldn’t get stuck on every little thing,” Whitely said. “Our stool also has a solid footprint so that it’s safe. Just because the product is functional doesn’t mean it can’t be neat looking and something that you’re proud to own. We guarantee it all.”
Tryke Products borrowed from its parent company when it began marketing, too. More than 99% of Dale Adams Enterprises’ customers are automotive, however. That means Whitely and his boss, Jeremy Adams, use cold calling, advertising, and articles to get the word out about the benefits of using Tryke Seats Rolling Stool.
“We’re still establishing which route will work best,” said Whitely. “We distribute directly to brick-and-mortar locations, and we do some e-commerce from our website.”
He and Adams have also developed relationships with distributors, but for now, the main focus is understanding the needs of Tryke Products’ individual customers. “We’ve heard a lot about workers’ compensation claims because people are hurting their backs, and they have knee problems,” Whitely said. “Our stool may be a good direction; the seats will pay for themselves if you can eliminate some of those claims.”