“I found a manufacturer locally, and that I created the site to sell the item on. The very first day I turned on the site I sold my very first product.”
That first product was an insulated attic-stair cover called the”Battic Door.” Designed to fulfill new International Energy Conservation Codes for sealed access points, the R-50 cover insulates pull-down ladders and attic-door hatches.
Within a year Tyrol recovered his first $5,000 investment. Since then he’s obtained a 7,500-square-foot warehouse to distribute a range of home-energy products. Including port covers, insulated pet doors, furnace insulators, and exclusive U.S. supply for the Fireplace Plug, an inflatable fireplace insulator, which has generated more than $1 million in sales in five decades.
Tyrol still works days as a senior scientist for FM Approvals, an independent testing and certification support. But on mornings, evenings, and weekends, he continues to develop Battic Door through immediate fulfillment, online retail partnerships, influencer marketing, and associated products.
“The theme for us is low-cost, efficient strategies of making your house more comfortable by stopping drafts. As a company, we have managed to attract a larger audience to our site. Adding other people’s products has been a fantastic way to grow. Someone may be trying to find a stair cover from us, and purchase something additional. By having over 60 products using an overall purpose and theme, we have the ability to entice people to our website that are most likely to find something they enjoy.”
Patents and Trademarks
Tyrol possesses four trademarks under the Battic Door brand.
“I learned a lesson the hard way. I began selling a product that I created, to test the market. After some success with the item, I registered for a patent — and recognized that since the product was sold, it removed the ability to get a patent for this.”
He was, nevertheless, able to be given a trademark for this. He has since hired a patent attorney and offers this advice:”It takes plenty of time and cost to secure IP (intellectual property). Be ready to invest $10,000.”
Third-party Retail Channels
Starting initially with his site, Tyrol climbed his ecommerce business with the addition of online channels.
The Battic Door, an insulated attic-stair cover.
“I included eBay, Amazon, Rakuten, Sears, HomeDepot.com, Walmart.com, Facebook, and a lot more. Over the past 15 years, we’ve increased 20 to 25 percent each year, normally, from the accession of new online portals”
Roughly 60 percent of Battic Door’s revenue now comes from these stations.
“Each of those merchants, from Walmart to Menards and Amazon Canada, has its own portal site to download orders. You then process the order and upload the monitoring information and shipping information. Then you go through an invoicing process to verify shipment.”
Marketplaces take fees for each and every item sold. Amazon, at 18 percent, is “by far the most expensive channel. However, the popularity and safety of Amazon’s website and the exposure it provides outweigh the costs.” Other stations, such as Home Depot and Walmart, pay an agreed price for every item sold. Those portals also pay the shipping.
Each portal differs, in other words.
Obtaining the Contract
Battic Door’s first reseller was Home Depot. Tyrol submitted a provider application and has been chosen to create a product demonstration –“essentially a sales pitch” — in Home Depot’s Atlanta headquarters. Tyrol financed the trip with Battic Door gains and headed out on his first official Battic business trip.
“We were lucky. We had an interesting product and gave a successful presentation.” The next step was merchant onboarding.
“After we did this, because Home Depot is a really strong station, we were encouraged to many ecommerce channels.”
“My wife and I take care of the organization, and we have around six part-time people who come in and assist us. Two have been with us for some time. They are very efficient and understand how to work in their own to-do jobs and help us.”
Tyrol sources the elements of the products he makes from U.S. makers. The components are created for Battic, and Tyrol and his staff do the packaging and assembly.
Fulfillment and Shipping
About 90 percent of the goods sold on BatticDoor.com are saved at its warehouse. The goods Tyrol doesn’t manufacture are bought in bulk and stored there.
“We make it a priority to attempt and ship every order the day it comes in. By sending the same day, by 3 p.m. from Massachusetts, lots of the orders arrive next day — even with regular, ground transport.”
“To expedite that, almost all of our items are pre-packaged and ready to go. We pack the items into different boxes. For several items, we place all the pre-assembled boxes into a bigger one to ship to the loading dock where our carriers — UPS, USPS, and FedEx — come and pick up during the day. We also ship pallets by truck, but that is for bigger, contractor-size orders.
“Most folks do not need to cover shipping. I do not blame themI feel the exact same way. But we try to be somewhat transparent. We don’t conceal the cost of shipping in our product price. What we’re doing is adding transport, and they can pick the speed and cost. We do not mark up any delivery costs, and we find that clients appreciate that transparency”
An”influence the influencer” program is now Battic Door’s most successful and profitable marketing procedure. It is a mix of trade shows and direct mail.
“We chose a booth with an architect exhibition to present our product. We did that for a couple of decades, and we moved from being specified in a small number of jobs to well over 100 jobs so far. Once an architect defines us for a single project, they frequently define us for their next endeavors. So it’s really paid off.”
“As a direct consequence of the influencer marketing plan, my sales have increased by approximately 50 percent in each of the previous two decades. I picked up heaps of new accounts that always purchase solutions. Many clients tell me that they were known to us by their architect or code official, confirming the success of our influencer marketing program.”
Tyrol utilized Dotster’s website builder to make his first site, which he still uses.
“After about five years I hired a consultant to update the website and add new images. Through the years I have educated myself that I no longer use a website builder and edit the code directly.”
The website gets over 2 million visits annually. Tyrol updates all of its content. The site generates about a third of Battic Door’s annual earnings.
Battic Door utilizes”Buy” buttons which connect to Mal’s E-commerce rather than an on-site cart.
Each button connects to Mal’s secure server — landing on a cart page using the Battic Door logo and the chosen product added.
“Buy” buttons at BatticDoor.com link to a cart page in Mal’s E-commerce, where buyers can complete their purchase.
From there, shoppers can edit their purchase, continue shopping, or proceed to the payments section.
With Mal’s secure server, Tyrol can sell unlimited products without scripting, application installations, or different SSL certificates. It is free to get a basic account. “Premium” accounts are $8 per month (or $86.40 yearly ), permitting Tyrol to incorporate real-time transport rates (via UPS WorldShip, FedEx Ship Manager, and USPS Stamps) and credit card transactions through his merchant account.
“I have been with [Mal’s] for 15 years. They provide enormous support and functionality. They procedure international sales from Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. There are other shopping cart suppliers, but we are quite happy with Mal’s and also the integration and support they supply.”
Tyrol launched a mobile website –“.mobi website was a quick solution” — to tackle Google’s algorithm changes. But that site is currently being replaced with a new responsive version through Dotster, which corrects screen sizes depending on the user’s device.
Past Dotster and Mal’s E-Commerce, Tyrol and his staff use QuickBooks for accounting, GoToMyPC to get the office computer remotely, and Construction Market Data for sales leads.
Key Decisions: Good and Poor
Tyrol’s first great decision was”deciding to begin the Battic Door ecommerce company in the first place.” He bought the BatticDoor.com domain from Dotster on January 4, 2003, and over the next several weekends created Battic’s first site.
“My wife had no idea what I was up to and she was annoyed, thinking I was wasting time browsing the net.” It did not take long for her to find that the value of Tyrol’s ecommerce eyesight. “Within a year she became a very important part of the company.”
Another fantastic decision cited by Tyrol is his partnerships with online vendor portals. “We climbed 300 percent with the addition of additional sales channels.”
In terms of bad decisions, Tyrol recalls an early plan for”10 trade shows in 1 year to present our E-Z Hatch. In addition to the high cost, it was exhausting to do a lot of shows! Additionally, a few shows were the wrong audience or badly attended.”
He has also learned from product failures:”We had an insulated whole-house fan-cover merchandise which didn’t work for [enough of our] clients. But we redesigned the item and it’s currently one of our top vendors.
Indeed, over the past 15 years, Tyrol’s Battic Door ecommerce venture was about the”lessons learned.”
“I am an engineer by training, so the advancement — the’how are we going to create this part?’ — came easily to me. But shipping and marketing and trademarks and patents and everything else were a procedure. It’s been nonstop learning since.”