COVID-19: The Governor’s Office of Economic Development is here to support you during these challenging and uncertain times. Learn More
Work hard. Play hard. That’s Brock Hutchinson’s motto in life. And after founding two successful businesses, this North Sioux City entrepreneur realized it’s also a model for success.
In 2006, Brock Hutchinson left the banking world to begin a new business venture. Hutchinson knew of a gentleman in Sioux Falls whose son had been in a boating accident. His son was getting discouraged from falling while learning to walk with his prosthetic leg, so his dad came up with the idea of installing a C channel track in their garage to help his son walk without the fear of falling.
Enter Hutchinson and his two business partners. The trio purchased Solo-Step, an overhead track and harness system designed to protect patients from falling during the rehabilitation process, while giving them the confidence they needed to break through their barriers in a safe environment. Today, you can find Solo-Step in 90+ Veteran Administration hospitals around the US, as well as hundreds of other facilities.
As that business was beginning to take off, Hutchinson knew that purchasing promotional items would really take Solo-Step’s marketing to the next level. At the time, stainless steel tumblers were all the rage. As Hutchinson researched the tumblers, he quickly realized that once you bought the cups from a company and had them lasered by a different company, the costs really began to add up.
“Pretty quickly I learned there wasn’t any ‘secret sauce’ when it comes to making stainless steel tumblers. I ended up reaching out to some companies overseas and getting samples that were a really good quality,” Hutchinson said. “The only problem was, these companies wanted me to order 4,000-5,000 units of these tumblers, although I really only needed about 500 -600 for Solo-Step.”
Hutchinson placed the order, and as expected, had thousands of leftover tumblers. As luck would have it, a few months later Brock attended a local home show in Sioux City with his surplus of stainless-steel tumblers. By the second day, they had sold out of a couple thousand tumblers and were even voted one of the top five booths at the home show.
“The whole thing kind of mushroomed from there,” Hutchinson said. “The tumblers were a big hit and then people started asking about rotomolded coolers. So, we did some research and were able to add coolers and growlers to our line-up of products.” And thus, his second business venture, Big Frig, was born.
The main goal at Big Frig is to create premium product with tumblers and coolers at an affordable price. “Yet we want our customers to feel like they are part of the family. We want to build relationships. Whether you are buying 1 cooler or 1,000. We aren’t into high volume and very little customer interaction. We base our business on relationships and we want our customers to feel like they are part of the family,” Hutchinson said.
Today, Hutchinson’s two companies employ 19 full time and 5 part-time employees, including some of his own family. And Hutchinson still incorporates his “work hard, play hard” motto into the workplace.
“I really stress the fact that I want everyone to have fun and enjoy coming to work, yet make sure they get their work done. Maybe we don’t always follow the textbook as to how it should be, but that’s what I really strive for here. To have an environment where you get out of bed and you’re excited to go to work,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson also added that he loves doing business in South Dakota. “I was born and raised here. These are my roots. There are great employees, available workforce, and a good business atmosphere as far as taxes, etc. I lived in Colorado, and Colorado is a great state, don’t get me wrong, but South Dakota is just a hard place to beat.”
Sign up for our newsletter and stay up-to-date on the latest news, rankings, and information on economic development in South Dakota.