Inside out Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009
Winner
Retail/Manufacturing

When Jonathan Carroll saw a trend among college students of underwear becoming outerwear, he founded Boxercraft Inc. out of his dorm room at the University of Virginia in 1985. He sold boxer shorts designed with college logos to campus stores, and then he was the first to expand business to high schools across the country as the trend moved to younger students, as well.

He then accepted a position at McKinsey & Co. after college and hired a manager for his business. After two years there, he decided to forego graduate school and take a risk running the business full time instead, so he left McKinsey and maxed out his credit cards, cleared out his IRA and was able to borrow from then-C&S Bank, using his car and his McKinsey portable computer as collateral. Despite working from his apartment with one employee and a free intern, the business loans were all paid off within the first year.

Since starting the company, Boxercraft has continued to grow every year for 23 years in a row, but it hasn’t been without challenges along the way. He’s learned over the years to rely on key employees rather than his own work — in fact, some of the original managers he hired are still with the company.

In 2006, CEO Carroll purchased Boxer Rebellion, a long-time competitor. In response to global apparel trends, he also set up offshore manufacturing recently. He also launched a business-to-business Web site featuring real-time inventory and a business-to-consumer site launched last year.

What started with zero customers has now grown into more than 20,000 accounts over the years, and each was developed one at a time. Carroll’s competitors refer to Boxercraft as a marketing machine, and that’s what he hopes to continue doing as he looks toward the future.

How to reach: Boxercraft Inc., (866) 522-6694 or www.boxercraft.com