Sean Jones of QuickLoadz
Meet Sean Jones, founder of QuickLoadz
, an innovative method for safely transporting International Standards Organization (ISO) shipping containers.
What is QuickLoadz?
QuickLoadz is a fast, safe, easy way to move ISO sea shipping containers from the ground level without use of cranes, winches, chains or pulleys. The old way to move ISO sea shipping containers was to either use a crane, which is expensive and requires quite a bit of maintenance and training, or what is just a flatbed tow truck or trailer where the box is dragged along the ground. With QuickLoadz, the container is picked up and the trailer is pulled under the container without any kind of special equipment.
How did you come up with the idea?
While in the mobile storage business, we would be moving containers all day, and it was always a long, dangerous, process. I am an engineer and so this problem bothered me, and I designed and built several different methods. After years of trial, error and redesign, I came up with a system that is simple and works really well.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
How difficult it was to explain how our system works, and what makes our system better. Even people in the industry who have to move containers everyday didn't understand how it worked and how easy it was. They just kept trying to relate it to what they already knew. Video made all the difference in showing off how QuickLoadz worked.
Where did you find your first employee?
From our construction company. It turned out one of the new hires was very experienced in CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machines, welding and fabricating on a large scale. He was just working construction, because the previous company he worked for went out of business. He has been instrumental in setting up the robots, CNC table, making alterations to the design. Phil has been a real find. If I hadn't just been talking to Phil on a construction site one day, I never would have found out about his other talents.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
A day consists of setting up machinery with our production VP, Phil. Simplifying designs for ease of production, sitting in front of the computer searching for suppliers, and delivering containers to constantly test out the system.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
There is a great wealth of technical, manufacturing experience in Ohio that I hadn't really appreciated until I needed it. There are companies from large manufacturers to small machine shops, and equipment suppliers all over the state that help in setting up a manufacturing business.
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?
I have been very impressed with the ThirdFrontier
program, specifically TechGROWTH Ohio
has been very helpful in providing funding and technical assistance necessary to organize the business and to set up manufacturing. They have provided initial funding for the patent searches, are helping to develop the business plan, helping to find production space, setting up the production space, and providing funding for a marketing company.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
During the last year of refining QuickLoadz, I would take the truck out every day, and even if we didn't have containers to deliver I would move containers around in our container yard. Empty containers, full containers, containers stuck in mud, containers jammed against each other -- I would always find a way to break something. Phil, our VP of production and generally in charge of the shop, cringed whenever I pulled out with the QuickLoadz truck, because he knew it would come back with something broken. At first I came back within the hour with something bent or broken. As we redesigned the parts I would break, I would be out longer and longer. Then finally, I would come back with nothing broken. Weeks would go by before I found a way to break something. We are finally at the point Phil calls "Sean Proof" where you would just pretty much have to flip the truck over to damage the QuickLoadz.
What inspires you?
I enjoy solving the puzzles that the QuickLoadz constantly created. It is very satisfying to have invented something that solves a real world problem and makes a job I once hated easy. I am really looking forward to the day I'll be driving down the road and see a QuickLoadz hauling an ISO shipping container somewhere.
What’s next for you?
Promotion and production. I am well aware that just because it is a good idea that works doesn't mean that people will run out and buy it. At this point we have at least a dozen very interested customers, which means I now need a way to produce the product that they want. Then comes showing a big end user like Walmart how much money and time they could save by picking up and dropping all of their shipments at ground level to every store and warehouse. It will take time.
Interview by Joe Baur