Today's guest, Ron Pritchett, is an Innovator and the Founder of TripleLite.com, a successful new entrant in the flashlight market traditionally dominated by household brands such as Energizer. In this interview, Ron shares with us how he transformed and protected his idea of solving the problems of flashlights - they only light up a small area in front of you, exposing you to accidents and danger - into a million-dollar brand. This interview will show you how to find and nurture the next big idea from common problems.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
How to overcome quality issues in product manufacturing.
How to grow through innovation and increased distribution.
How to consistently meet revenue targets when a primary marketing channel is lost.
How to effectively position your product in the target market so you can stand out!
And so much more!
You can listen to the full interview on your desktop or wherever you choose to listen to your podcasts.
Or, click to watch the full video interview here!
Visit TripleLite.com today to buy a flashlight that's powered by the TripleLite 180° patented technology, giving you over 600 lumens of ultra-bright light in all directions.
Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Set up a free consultation with us today!
Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript here!
Jon LaClare: Today's guest discusses how he and his wife grew their business to seven figures in retail, seven figures on HSN and QVC, and another seven figures through eCommerce retailers. He discusses the importance of quality and innovation in growing consumer product businesses.
Announcer: Are you looking for new ways to make your sales grow? You've tried other podcasts but they don't seem to know, harvest the growth potential of your product or service as we share stories and strategies, that'll make your competitors nervous. Now here's the host of our Harvest Growth podcast, Jon LaClare.
Jon: Today I'm excited to be speaking with Ron Pritchett. He's the founder and along with his wife inventor of the TripleLite. We're going to talk about exactly what that product is. It's a really unique flashlight, really cool product. He's seen some great success in the past few years. We're going to talk about his little story and really get into it. Before we do though let's talk about the product itself. Ron, first of all welcome to the show.
Ron Pritchett: Thank you, Jon. Thank you very much.
Jon: Excited to have you on here. Can you describe for us if you could what is the TripleLite and how'd you come up with the idea? For those watching and video I think you've got some sample flashlights you could show us as you talk and just maybe describe them for those that might be listening.
Ron: Sure. What I did one night as I'm walking down the stairs in our backyard going to a [unintelligible 00:01:22] grove that we have and as I'm going down the steps, I have a regular flashlight like this one I have in my hands. As I had it turned on something to the left caught my eye. I just turned the flashlight to the left to see what was there. When I did that, the steps coming down in front of me became dark and I almost tripped, so I had to wave it back real fast. I thought, why should a person have to wave a flashlight back and forth? Why can't they just turn on the flashlight and see not only straight ahead but to the left or to the right? Thus the invention of the TripleLite 180-degree flashlight.
When I turn this on, it does a perfect 180 degrees. Now when you walk in somewhere, you never have to wave it. It sees at 180 degrees and goes-- this large one here, the TL 600, will go out about 130, 140, 150 feet. It lights up everything not only straight ahead in front of you, but to the left and to the right of you. We have actually three models. We have this one which is the TL 600 which puts out over 800 lumens. The other thing is if you lose power in your room, you turn that on and that'll light up the whole room for eight hours. You never have to worry about losing power. It's like you have your electricity on even though it's off. That one is the TL 600. This one here is the TL 300.
If you're walking your dog, you don't, again, never have to wave back and forth. Has a nice lanyard. It can go on your wrist and it's very, very hands-free. Then finally, we have this beautiful little key chain. Then this puts out 50 lumens. People will actually walk their dog with this little thing here and it comes in five different colors. If you go back to the first flashlight that they ever invented, they've always shut that straight beam out. You've always had to wave it. I said why can't I design a flashlight that when I point it, I can see everything and that's how I actually came up with a flashlight.
Jon: It's such a great concept. Like many of the best ideas when you hear it or when you see it you're like, "Why doesn't that exist?" It seems obvious. Luckily you were the one to come up with this idea and it didn't exist. It wasn't out there. I think back to just a couple of weeks ago, I went camping up in the mountains here in Colorado with my family. As often as the case using a regular flashlight, you have this little habit or I do where you just scan back and forth with a regular flashlight as you walk. It's almost like looking in every direction as opposed to your product which now makes it so much easier. I wish I had it a couple of weeks ago but now I can use it going forward.
It's a phenomenal idea. Because it seems obvious, it seems so simple which is the mark of a great idea, frankly, because you get it right away when you see it. Have you had any issues with knockoffs or people copying the idea since you launched?
Ron: It's funny you mention that because when I came up with the idea I drew out a little design on a piece of paper and I sent it to my patent attorney and he looked at it and he says, "That's a very good idea but it's probably been patented before." We searched and we searched and it had never been patented in the whole world. For two years I played my own devil's advocate whereas I tried to get around the flashlight as much as I could.
Right now on this flashlight, we have four utility patents. US patents are issued plus the design patent and we have a fifth one on the way. We have already had two large companies try to knock us off. Our attorney sent them a cease and desist letter and they stopped just like that.
Jon: Oh fantastic. Back to the importance of protecting your idea to make sure you can stay safe, and when you do it right as you said even when it's big companies that are coming after you, many times you can stop them in your tracks and it doesn't have to. It can be expensive to litigate but I'm glad to hear for you that cease and desist letter was enough. That's fantastic. It certainly speaks to the [unintelligible 00:05:33] patents.
Ron: The thing about it is that when I found out that it had never been done in the whole world, we knew we had something. We took our time. Like I said we kept it hidden for a couple years as we went through the process. Then once it was patent pending then that's when we started working on the prototypes and building up balls and getting things in place, packaging and all that stuff.
Jon: That's fantastic. Since you've launched and now been able to ward off these would be competitors, what really has worked for you? What marketing channels have worked best for your business?
Ron: The best channels so far has been TV. Our first show that we ever put on, and there's the packaging right there with the flashlight stuff in it, was HSN and they bought 5,000 of the flashlight and they sold them out in about 18 minutes. After that, QVC bought HSN and then they loved the flashlight. Now we've had both models on there for the last three years. They've done well over a million dollars in sales for us. They just reordered 36,000 of these large ones which will be coming on this fall as well.
Jon: That's fantastic.
Ron: Then our next one is we're in about 2,000 Ace Hardware stores. We're in almost all the big five sporting good stores. We're still gearing out and trying to get into the big stores. We're on homedepo.com, walmart.com, zulily.com, [unintelligible 00:07:12].com. We've done very, very well on the online and things like that.
Jon: One of the things in preparing for this interview we got your emailing back and forth. I learned that you had some success on the Grommet as well. It's really interesting we've had a few of our guests on this show that have had great success on the Grommet. For those who aren't familiar it may be too late. That company is, unfortunately, shutting down but they've been around for many years and were really supportive of the inventor community where if you had a great product, they would take it on, buy usually a large quantity of inventory. Then they use their own marketing lists to then sell it via their website, essentially a catalog website. The ability to work with inventors has been a fantastic thing. Unfortunately, they don't exist anymore. What's that?
Ron: They were actually fantastic for us. They sold just under a million dollars of flashlights for us. It was very, very successful, was always one of their top sellers. It's really regretful that they're 'going out of business' but we were very, very good seller for them.
Jon: Absolutely. It's been great and it's very recent that they've stopped working. Who knows what the full cause is? It may just be competition with Amazon. What are your plans as a business as you think about now you've got this chunk of revenue because a lot of our listeners will face this? At some point, it happens to every business. You've got one chunk of whether it's a retailer, whether it's a website, whether it's a customer that all of a sudden doesn't purchase or changes their direction or whatever it might be. What are your thoughts on strategy in terms of how to replace that big chunk of inventory or big chunk of revenues really for your business?
Ron: We're being picked up on quite a bit by other companies as well. The one thing we are doing is that we are expanding our product line. We're actually coming out with a headlamp, for hikers and campers and things like that, that will fit on top of your head. Again that will be the perfect 180-degree view there. We're also coming out with a new a luminaire model of this mid flashlight for security.
For example, when the state patrollers say will pull someone over, they got that little key chain. We're putting a button in the back so they could push this button in the back and it would be made out of luminaire and they would put out over 1,200 lumens. If someone does get pulled over the state patrol, the state patrol just turns that on, lights up the whole [unintelligible 00:09:42] for hiking, for boating, camping, that would be really good because it'd be waterproof and we'll put out, like I said, over 1,200 lumens.
Jon: It's a great answer. I think I want to reiterate it for our audience, what I term as potentially what could be a challenge where if you're dependent on or have a significant retailer that goes away, one of the great ways to grow your business or, frankly, to prevent the issue in the first place is line extensions. You talked about product development, continuing to innovate, expand your technology into other directions, it opens you up to new marketing channels, new customers, and then repeat orders or additional orders from existing customers as well. It's a great way really to hedge against potential loss because it's going to happen to anybody, whether you just maybe [unintelligible 00:10:39].
Ron: It does, it happens to everyone, especially this COVID, and companies are closing doors all the time, you always have to have new innovations and new ideas so that you can expand your product line. Most companies, the big retailers, they don't want just a one SKUs, they want several SKUs so that they can have their products expanded wider. This is one really nice item that we have for counters. This has the key chamber with five different colors and sits 25 on a counter and retail store, for example. They come buy and they buy and they pick out colors and we're the best little stocking stuffers you'll ever see. We just came out with those as well.
Jon: Yes, it's really necessary, support those retailers with great displays and it makes it much easier for them to put you in great locations inside the stores. It continues to drive more and more success for sure. Let's talk a little bit about quality. Have you ever had any issues? Many times that happens in development of a new product where there are quality concerns and maybe at the very beginning that you had to overcome.
Ron: We did have that problem. [chuckles] When I first got us started we were going like gangbusters and we sent a sample to one of the major retailers about our flashlight and it came out and the sample was defective. What happened was that when the batteries get weak, the light should dim out, but with the flashlight, when the batteries got weak, the flashlight started flickering, and they couldn't turn it off. We had to stop production, start all over again.
We found a brand new factory, had to redo all the models and for a year and a half or so we were just gearing back up, we redesigned the packaging so it's a beautiful package on the front and back and then since then we started that in fall of 2018. It's done really extremely good, so all the defects have been taken out of it. That's one thing about anything you're doing that you're billing, sometimes something happens and you don't know it till you have in your hands.
Jon: Yes, I'm a big proponent of moving quickly when it comes to innovation as you've done like the other products you are coming out with but being slow, methodical, and careful when it comes to quality, it's a great example of realizing, okay when we've got this issue, let's not ship as is. Even though I'm sure it was a great expense for you to go to a new factory to do models, essentially start over but now that's created a business that is much more successful than it otherwise would be. You've got customers that are much happier et cetera, so it's making it worth that time [crosstalk]--
Ron: It just came out with a better quality flashlights. We didn't want to come out with what I call an inexpensive cheap flashlight because those are a dime a dozen. You want to come out with the best materials we could come out with. We want the highest lumens you come out with. We have this flashlight, for example, runs on three AA batteries. Everything is just very simple, very easy to operate. Is coated with a nice smooth rubberized coating so it's easy to touch with your hands. To be honest with you, it's just a very simple idea, like you said, that no one ever done, but it just really, really works.
Jon: Phenomenal product. I want to encourage our audience, please visit Ron's website for his product at triplelite.com. It's L-I-T-E, it's spelled out the show notes as well. If you're driving, go back and look up the show notes after the interview, for sure. Check out the product on our website, see the great work that he's done. You could look on, I assume QVC and many other retailers as well to see how his success has grown beyond single channel, but he's gotten to so many different marketing channels and had success there. Ron, is there anything I didn't ask that you think would be helpful for our audience?
Ron: Oh, one thing I was going to tell you is we actually market this as one of the safest flashlights that's ever been designed. Again, I go back to the point that you always have to wave a flashlight back and forth. Everybody that buys and they put one in their car and they put one in their bag and like this little keychain, or this little man here, they give them to their children when they go to school so if they're walking back late at night, they're very, very well protected. Halloween when they're walking at night, they can see everything. It's just a great flashlight. We do say it's probably the safest flashlight for our consumers that has ever been invented.
Jon: It's a great point and I love that you ended with a benefit. Really, safety is the benefit. The functionality, the way it's designed, those are the features. For our audience's sake, this is the most important way to talk about your products is how does it really benefit their audience or your audience that you're selling to? What a great one to certainly end with.
Well, Ron, I really appreciate the time you've taken in this interview. Again, great product, I encourage our audience please go check out triplelite.com to learn more about Ron's product, and be sure to check out harvestgrowth.com to see other episodes we've recorded. If you like this episode, you want to learn more about how you can profitably grow your consumer product business, please subscribe to our show and be sure to leave us a review. Thanks so much and appreciate the time, Ron.
Ron: Thanks, Jon. Have a good day.
[00:16:32] [END OF AUDIO]