Surfs up for a local start-up; in 1999 well find out if it can ride the wave.
Paul Reeder founded Zura Sports Inc. in Westerville in 1994 and spent his first years convincing customers his line of swimming products was not only new, but better.
His sell job got easier last year when he contracted with 10 established independent sales representatives, each of who works with three to four more representatives. Their industry contacts opened doors previously closed to Reeder. Case in point: Late last year, Reeder received a request from Leslie Pools of Chatsworth, Calif., for $100,000 worth of Zuras productshis biggest single order to date.
Reeder is also negotiating deals with other big names, such as Galyans Trading Co. and The Sports Authority. Add those to deals he cut last year with Brookstone and Champs Sports stores, and were looking at the first quarter of 99 literally doubling the revenue we did this year, he says.
His new challenge is inventory. Big vendors call for big orders, and if they come, he needs to be ready to fill them. On the other hand, he cant afford to be stuck with items that dont sell.
Reeder is also taking a look at his product line. In 1997, he secured a $250,000 SBA loan, which he used to introduce four of the five products Zura has premiered since then. He plans to add at least three more this year, and is negotiating to bring under the Zura name a bike product he worked on as a consultant. Diversifying, however, is dependent upon the success of the swimming lines.
If Reeders efforts pay off, look for his start-up to make a dramatic turn toward profitability after taking the first four years to reach the break-even point. He merely needs to keep from being swept out in the tide.
Zura Sports Inc.
975 Eastwind Dr., Suite 150, Westerville
Top officer: Paul Reeder, president
Year founded: 1994
Estimated 1998 revenues: $250,000
Revenue growth, 96 to 97: 79%
Major clients: Herrington catalog, Brookstone, Champs Sports, Leslie Pools