Innovation Powers GMS Distribution
Tammy Y. Allen, Director, Marketing & Programs, The NIIC
Each entrepreneur’s journey is different. Sometimes it’s deliberate—with a clear plan and objectives. Other times it’s happenstance. The latter was the case for Gerrett Stier, Owner and Founder of GMS Distribution.
The journeyman/electrician turned businessman had a great idea and acted on it. His story starts several years ago when he was working for a local restoration company. He was tasked with handling power restoration and ensuring the wiring was safe. In his work, he noticed inefficiencies. Like, instead of turning on multiple circuits, was there a way to use a central box? His concept had legs—before he knew it, he had made 20 units.
Initially, Stier worked from his garage. He wasn’t doing enough volume to justify paid workspace. Then, he sought the help of The NIIC. “Through the advice of Mike Fritsch (Entrepreneur in Residence, The NIIC), we ended up sub-contracting,” Stier said.
Fritsch helped him identify a niche—assembly. Initially, he relied on others for the assembly and distribution, so he could focus on running the business. “In short, Fritsch and The NIIC team challenged and helped me to look at my business model differently,” said Stier. More recently, he has moved assembly in-house and still works closely with his subcontractors on other projects.
“It’s one thing to have an idea, but how to go about it is another. For that reason, the team at The NIIC is a great sounding board for startups. They’re going to open your eyes to a lot of things,” he said.
Following that milestone, he secured multiple distribution contracts. This allowed him to quit his job in 2010 to focus on the business full time. “It just snowballed from there,” said Stier. He estimates that in the past two years he’s manufactured more than 1,400 power boxes. Today, Stier operates GMS Distribution from a manufacturing facility in Huntertown with one full-time employee and two part-time employees.
That growth hasn’t occurred in a vacuum, though. “I always wanted to keep the manufacturing in-house, while outsourcing the distribution. That model works for me because I prefer to support the distributors rather than acting as the sales force,” said Stier.