C. Jim Stewart IV, president, Surefire Industries USA LLC

Distribution & Manufacturing — Energy, Finalist

A fifth-generation entrepreneur, C. Jim Stewart IV grew up inspired to start his own business. So when he saw the opportunity to create a manufacturing company that better met customer needs, he jumped at the chance to take this knowledge and vision and launch Surefire Industries USA LLC.

With Surefire USA, Stewart took the traditional manufacturing industry model — to sell what you build — and flipped it. As president of the company, which designs and builds pressure pumping equipment for the oil field services industry, he has focused on creating a different kind of customer experience, where the customer is in the driver’s seat. Instead of limiting customer choices to a set of predetermined products, Stewart and his team help clients customize equipment for their specific needs and applications.

Stewart designed the company for quick innovation, giving the business the competitive advantage of being able to customize and adapt its products much faster than larger competitors. By constructing more than 20 different prototype units for 10 different customers in just the first year, the company capitalized on a market of customers seeking this flexibility and customization in design. Just two years after opening its doors, Surefire USA already employs 400 people and has four locations — hard to believe considering the bootstrap nature of its initial capitalization.

Another way Stewart has differentiated the business is with its service after the sale. Seeing how most of his competitors weren’t interested in providing these services, he saw the chance to add value for customers by managing the entire life cycle of Surefire USA’s equipment. The company recently opened its first service center location and can extend its expertise to equipment that was built by another manufacturing company.

How to reach: Surefire Industries USA LLC, www.surefireindustries.com