The Refill Station — The 1906 Gents
The Refill Station is a blog by 1 Million Cups Springfield that features a past presenter to keep the Springfield community engaged with local small businesses. Whether the featured business is on track to be the next Fortune 500 Company or struggling to keep the lights on, we want to know what events transpired after their last presentation at 1 Million Cups Springfield. We want to know where the business is heading. We want to know what we, as a community, can do to help you.
This month, we are highlighting past presenter: The 1906 Gents. The Refill Station is split into two parts. The first is a “Glance Back”, a look at when The 1906 Gents last presented and the events that have transpired since. The second part asks The 1906 Gents: “What are your next steps?” and “What can we, as a community, do for you?” Here is The 1906 Gents’ story:
A Glance Back:
The 1906 Gents’ mission is “to create quality wood products that memories are built around.” From grooming products to coffee essentials and pipe tampers to bar essentials, The 1906 Gents turns woodworking into an art form. Although The 1906 Gents was founded in 2013, they didn’t first present at 1 Million Cups Springfield until April of 2015 and then a refill in August of the same year. They were seeking help funding their kickstarter, sharing their kickstarter with the public, and mentorship from people with experience in the production model they were undertaking. According to Dante LaCivita, partner at The 1906 Gents, they never found the mentorship they were seeking. However, they did gain valuable marketing resources, connections with a web developer and a supplier, and build several key partnerships including the addition of Brick & Mortar Coffee as a retail shop for some of their products. Dante believes the reason they never found that perfect mentor is because a higher number of 1 Million Cups Springfield presenters tend to be technology startups; whereas The 1906 Gents is a lifestyle brand mainly working with wood.
LaCivita credits 1 Millions Cups Springfield to their success over the last year saying that the legitimacy they gained not just as a business, but as entrepreneurs, after presenting was a big contributor to their growth. He is also extremely grateful to the Springfield community for the support of their products and believes The 1906 Gents is on the right track for serious growth. Since last presenting, The 1906 Gents has doubled retailers nationwide to total 50 (they had a goal of 25), have hired several brand ambassadors throughout the nation, and gained great relationships. Their kickstarter was overfunded 134% and they have more than doubled their income in the last year. They expanded from building and retailing into housing custom work as well. Wood shop apprentices have hopped on their team and the introduction of shaving soaps, colognes, and custom designed kitchen products for other companies are soon coming online.
But no successful entrepreneur has rainbows without a little rain. Dante says that one of The 1906 Gents largest hurdles is operating their capital.
We’ve underestimated how much money we need to go to the next level every time. We are fortunate to have zero debt being that we haven’t taken any personal investments or loans, but at the same time it’s expand or die while trying to stay in our niche.
Dante goes on to talk about how their website is their Achilles heel. Their whole sale is great but their website is holding them back, having some months really busy and other months that are radio silent. He admits that their team of wood workers are not the best marketing minds, but they are doing the best they can until they can afford the expenses of outsourcing their marketing.
Question: “What are your next steps?”
“We are currently seeking personal investors so we can reach larger markets and produce larger volumes; we already have to decline orders because of how busy our retail is. We’ve hired Mighty Sharp to redesign our website, but we still need help pulling in traffic.”
Question: “What can we, as a community, do for The 1906 Gents?”
“We need a platform to invite investors for our next couple stages of growth. We also need strategic help in keeping us from underestimating our market.”