ALS Enterprises/Scent-Lok Technologies.
While Greg achieved a fair amount of success going through this pre-hunt ceremony, it only took a split second for him to realize a truly new idea that would change the face of hunting for all!
First, we need to see how Greg was spending his time before he had the idea to better understand how the vision came to be. He earned a degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Tech and took a job with Howmet Turbine Components. There, he went through their training program and got involved in a variety of projects. Some time later he took a position with an automotive company, SPX, to expand his skills and horizons. One of the projects Greg was responsible for was the development of heavy-duty filters for the dry-cleaning industry. One of the main components of these filters--activated charcoal! Through the development process Greg learned a great deal about activated charcoal.
Back to the summer of 1986. "I was getting ready for the upcoming season and had all of my hunting clothes lying in a pile on the floor in front of me. I figured it was going to take at least 30 boxes of baking soda to get me through them all," remembers Greg.
Then it happened!
Greg explains, "It hit me all at once, like someone threw the switch on. Solve the problem in front of me with the solution I had been developing at work. My vision was complete as I imagined activated charcoal incorporated into all hunting clothing."
It wasn't until almost two years later that Greg actually began the development of his idea. He ran the idea past some of his co-workers who were hunters and the reaction was immediate and positive. They got excited and his idea got a new lease on life! After contacting a patent attorney, a two-piece under lining was created that featured an activated charcoal barrier built right into the fabric. He had a product.
From that point the testing of his new idea began in earnest. Many interesting "smell" tests were tried and Greg gave prototype suits to hunting friends for field evaluations. The testers came back full of praise and stories of success. The smell tests proved valuable in that they taught Greg that his new product not only stopped odor from escaping through the barrier, but it also absorbed and cancelled loose scent, leaving the wearer virtually odor free.
By 1992 Greg was ready to introduce his scent-capturing suit to the hunting world. Preparations for the S.H.O.T. and Bow Shows began with fervor. "We were trained in trade show sales and hired an ad agency to come in and help develop everything from our product name to business cards. We wanted to go into these shows looking big and professional." ALS Enterprises (named after Greg's first born Amanda Lyn Sesselmann) did just that, entering the ring with a great looking booth and professional literature that explained who they were and what they brought to the table. Dealers, writers and reps were talking about the new idea throughout the show. "The interest was high," recalls Greg, "but the orders were low." An industry veteran suggested that Greg hire OutTech Rep Company to get things going. After researching the rep company, Greg signed on.
The road ahead was trying at times. Greg remembers the early days, "We, like most other infant companies, had a financial issue--a big dream with limited resources." They never lost hope though and forged ahead visiting consumer and trade shows by the dozens. Everything was "value added" back then meaning that if it didn't directly add to the value of the business, it wasn't necessary and it was sacrificed. The money that could have gone to motel rooms, airline tickets and a bigger building went instead to advertising and product development. Sesselmann added, "We even refinanced our home, cashed in an IRA and borrowed from my 401K!"
When ALS started to get off the ground, Greg came to the realization that he needed to find someone that understood his passion, saw the potential and was willing to invest capital into the company--someone exactly like George Schrink. George and Greg work from the same page, gain strength and focus from the same vision and make great partners. Greg refers to George as a blessing.
Since that time the ALS team has grown to over 35 employees and 65 plus sales representatives. The operation went from Greg's basement, to a rough looking building in a rough looking location and then on to a professional building that has been doubled in size once and is awaiting another expansion.
During my interview with Greg, I was impressed with his emphasis on the customer. He is unyielding in his effort to satisfy and support his customers. With the customer as the motivating force, ALS has managed to hold a steady and controlled growth rate of 20- to 30-percent per year. Greg, George and silent partner Wayne Jarvis, attribute this success to every member of their team.
When asked about the current status of his company Greg beams, "we are the world's foremost leader in scent elimination technology and clothing. We have great relationships with our reps, dealers and key accounts like Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's and Dick's Sporting Goods." In fact, our interview was done over the phone as Greg personally attended the grand opening of the newest Cabela's in Buda, Texas. "Every year we hold a dealer and pro-staff powwow at our ranch in Michigan. We have a good time and go over every piece of clothing and accessory detail-by-detail looking for ways to improve our product."
The road forward for ALS includes bringing to market the best and most innovative scent eliminating garments in the industry and looking to new horizons for expansion opportunities. Evidence of this strategy abounds in their new Supreme Series, 2005 Savanna EXT lightweight series and Base Slayer garments. As far as new horizons--at the 2005 winter shows Scent-Lok unveiled their new Phorm "Activated Apparel" Activewear designed to eliminate all human odors for an extended period of time.
"We are a technology company that believes in branding, marketing and customer service as a competitive advantage," Greg states. It's a philosophy that would serve any company well.
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|Title Annotation:||Bow Business|
|Author:||Silks, Jon E.|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2005|
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