We would like to thank Greg for taking the time to give us this interview.
GCOptions: Can you please us a brief history of ECOXGEAR
GF: My buddy, Jim Palmer, and I started ECOXGEAR in 2009. Jim is from Georgia and built his first speaker while finalizing his engineering degree at Georgia Tech, and I studied finance at Indiana University. However, music has always been my passion. From playing my 1973 Gibson SG in a 4th grade garage band to building my 1st AM/FM radio in middle school, it’s no surprise that Jim and I started an audio company.
Before starting our business, we worked at industry leading companies developing audio and telecommunications products such as Bearcat Scanners, Motorola cell phones, internet radios, and Uniden FRS radios. We took the plunge into entrepreneurship when we leased a small 800 square foot vacated Verizon storefront in San Diego, Ca., and 12 years and hundreds of sleepless nights later, we have a main warehouse in California with sales offices in Colorado, New Jersey, and as of May this year we expanded our presence in Houston, TX.
GCOptions: What sector of the market does ECOXGEAR specialize in?
GF: ECOXGEAR specializes in 100% waterproof, dust proof, shockproof and rugged audio solutions from small personal speakers to carry-on suitcase sized party speakers, and soundbars for Golf Cars, UTV’s, ATV’s and the marine industry. We design all our products in our Poway, CA office as well as handle customer support, warranty, and repairs for our customers nationwide. Every design is approved and tested under the international water and dust proof standards. That’s important because our customers use our products in very harsh environments, and they are designed for every kind of abuse that can be thrown their way. And in the rare event of a product issue, we pride ourselves on a quick and easy warranty process.
GCOptions: Are there any significant achievements you’d like to tell us about?
GF: Having your own business is a wild ride. It takes a massive amount of dedication and hard work. There are plenty of heartaches but also incredible wins. While we now have more than a dozen design and utility patents / patents pending, our waterproof Utility Patent No. 9,307,307 was truly game changing. It took us years of designing products and working with the patent office to finalize the patent. Then on April 5, 2016, the US government validated that ECOXGEAR was the inventor of the first truly waterproof and even submersible personal wireless audio speaker.
Since then, we have developed dozens of waterproof audio solutions, including our best-selling Golf car soundbars and early this year we launched the industry’s 1st battery powered 100% waterproof Golf car soundbar (utilizing our portfolio of patents and several pending patents).
GCOptions: Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to your success?
GF: Never stop learning.
While we have been in business for over a decade, the golf car market is new for us. We learn something new every day from our experienced Golf car partners and are excited to continue building our national network of brick-and-mortar dealers.
As a small business we care about our dealers and provide them a personal touch. Heck, my son is in sales support and my wife is answering questions from dealers on Facebook on nights and weekends. We are not here to just sell—what we believe to be the best audio solutions in the market—but to partner with our dealers and to learn from each other and ensure we are all profitable and successful.
GCOptions: How did the pandemic affect business?
GF: The uncertainty has been nerve-racking. First, sales plummeted, then sales were double what they were before the pandemic. Now we’re navigating rising freights cost, long lead times, and parts availability. But as a business owner, if you wake up in the morning and don’t expect to have to solve problems, owning a business is not for you. So, yes, it’s tough, but challenges also give us an opportunity to be at our best. We’re here to partner with and support our dealers, and we’ll get through this together.
GCOptions: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
GF: I’ve been given so many good pieces of advice from my mom and dad, business partner, team, dealers and mentors. I use different pieces of advice depending on the situation. But if I had to pick one, I would say, “We each succeed only if we all succeed.” I was told that when I was working at Motorola in the 90’s, in a very cutthroat environment. My boss was constantly trying to convince all of us if we worked together to bring each of us up to a higher level rather than focusing only on our own efforts, that we would be much more successful. He was—and still—is right.