Queen Creek businessman Greg Bond transformed a need he discovered while pursuing his hobby into a growing home-based business.
An off-roading enthusiast, Bond would often take his crew on desert adventures in the family Jeep, but found that with him, his wife and their two teenagers, little room was left for drinks and food. Bond said he found himself "wishing there was a cooler that would fit behind the back seat."
"We were taking these six-pack ice chests. But you put ice in it, and there's no room to hold anything," Bond said.
It took him six months to design his "Ice Vault" cooler, find a manufacturer and set up his business, JP Cooler.
Designed to hold two cases of soda plus ice, Bond made sure the tall, thin cooler could take a beating and added a reinforced bottom and strong carrying straps.
"Because of the nature of four-wheeling and being out here in the desert, things tend to get banged up," Bond said.
Over these past two years, he's set up a Web site, advertised in niche publications and traveled to trade shows throughout the West to get his product into the marketplace.
Bond said those efforts and work are starting to pay off.
"Our sales have doubled since last year," Bond said. He declined to cite specific figures.
Bond said his growing success has not been by accident. He has approached the endeavor with discipline, keeping a strong dividing line between work and home.
He purchased a 40-foot air-conditioned modular unit that is stationed in his yard. Outfitted with computers, Internet connections and a telephone, the unit functions as an office and a small warehouse.
"It was important that I had a separate office from the house," Bond said. He is working to develop another type of cooler and add to his product line. He is also pursuing distribution and wholesale contracts so his product can reach more consumers.
"Many of our customers are buying these for their boats, because space is such an issue. I didn't even think about that market," Bond said.
Because of the demands of his growing business, Bond — a founding member of the Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce — recently resigned as president.
Although he was sad to give up his role in the organization, "I think a lot of people understand that people's business comes first."