Early in 2002, I was managing a company in which I was also a minority owner, and was miserable. For an entrepreneur – being launched into a position where I was suddenly answering to a board of directors I didn’t believe in (nor did they believe in me), was difficult. However, when the board made decisions that I determined to be detrimental to my core clients, I had seen enough.
Upon leaving my role in that company, I set off to find my niche. What did the production equipment world need that wasn’t already being done, and that my relationships and expertise could serve to benefit? Over the summer of 2002, I went about the cleansing process where I got myself out of the automated lighting business, and started just thinking about a more global business. The foundation was “what can I do for my former clients, employers and suppliers – that they are not currently doing well on their own”.
Original GearSource Logo created by Marcel on a napkin
(Note, the lighting bolt – signifying a dash was used in the domain)
More Recent GearSource Logo and still used today
From that simple question came the foundation for what became GearSource. The image below is the actual notepad where I went through the agonizing process of naming my company. In fact, the company was first GearCo.com, then before the site was ever completed a choice was made to change the name to Gear-Source.com.
The hyphen was necessitated by the availability, or lack of availability of the target domain, gearsource.com. That domain was registered to a defunct Cisco reseller who had shut down the site, but was the registered owner of www.GearSource.com.
I attempted to contact the reseller using whatever statistics were available through the owner’s domain registrar, but no reply ever came. Then suddenly, at one point in 2003, I receive an email out of nowhere. “Hi, I see you started a business called Gear-Source, and I own the gearsource.com domain. Would you like to buy it”. I responded that yes, I was interested – but since the company was already successfully branded with the hyphen, it had little value. In fact, I was bluffing. I desperately wanted this domain, but couldn’t tell the seller that. The seller was trying for $10,000. In the end, I got gearsource.com in exchange for a Martin fog machine… about $300 at the time.
Then, the initial site was developed at a total cost of less than $5,000 and was built on an archaic UK based e-commerce platform called Actinic by a friend of mine who didn’t have much experience (if any) creating websites. I guess, in my mind, he knew more than I did.
The Business Model Develops… or Explodes!
In the early days, myself and my first employee, Cynthia, worked from the bar in my home. After all, we were a web based business – so who really cared where the business was based. Well, until one day I received a call from a European customer calling from a cell phone. “Hi Marcel, I am near your office, but my GPS says it’s in a housing community – I want to stop in and see your facilities”. Obviously, it was time for me to get a little more serious.
I moved GearSource into an office in Weston, FL and soon after, another employee was hired to manage the books which until then, had been part of my own daily function.
Now it was time to focus on the web technology itself. Sure, the first site served the company just fine, but the manual functionality and lack of speed didn’t make me happy. My vision was always to create a site where users could list and manage their own products, and where sales were processed with much more automation. The goal was to grow the company and therefore, it should be a little more scalable than it was on the existing, manual system.
I scoured south Florida for a suitable developer, and eventually settled on an up and coming company called iChameleon, owned by a very colorful young man named Freddie Laker (Jr). Freddy was the son of renowned British entrepreneur, Sir Freddie Laker and was a very bright and forward thinking visionary when it came to web development. We hit it off instantly.
GearSource 2.0 as it became to be known was more than a small advancement in terms of technology, process, feature set and look and feel. In addition, it would allow us to expand more quickly, to handle a greater order volume and eventually, add additional sites covering more geography.
Viva la Europe!
In 2005, I embarked on a search for a person or entity who could manage a new GearSource Europe site through a licensing agreement. It was Jonathan Resnick, president of Barbizon who eventually put me and Garry Nelsson together.
From the very beginning, Garry was a perfect choice. His connections in the industry mirrored mine and growth was rapid and wide-spread. Today, GearSource Europe has grown with additional staff located in Italy, France, Russia and Belgium.
Since the early days of GearSource Europe, our US Development group have expanded the company’s web technology greatly, and have made huge strides to simplify the overall process while incorporating additional tools and automation. When GSE was originally launched, it was a rather daunting technological triumph for us. Now, a licensed site can go live in less than 30 days using our multi-site platform.
Additional licensing agreements continue being discussed in Mexico, Canada, S America and Asia.
The model marches on…
Since 2002, we have grown to become, and remain the largest and most organized seller of used production inventory on the planet. We have raised the bar in so many areas and with technological advancements that are well beyond that of our competitors. We took huge leaps of faith in spending more than $1m on technology, programmers and software when a simple $100 piece of software might work. We pay thousands of dollars in monthly server costs in the cloud, when most of our competitors use a cheap web-hosting system. We believe mightily in quality, speed and security and because we value our users that much, we do what we feel is necessary. As a result, we’ve never fallen to fraud, identity theft, or any other security breach and our server uptime is the industry’s best.
Additionally, while our competitors believe in super small operations run by computer people instead of veteran industry experts, we aggressively brought in talent, including our VP, Henry Kones who joined our company at the beginning of 2006 and continues to lead our sales and business development team.
In connection with our 10th anniversary celebration, we will launch several special offers plus a few new features including our first smartphone app allowing our users to add listings via a smartphone in just a few moments from wherever they are. This, in addition to the already available Bulk Listings Uploading tool and many more new features will continue pushing us years ahead of our competition in terms of tools and technology, but we still firmly believe that our #1 job is to take care of our users. To do that, we continue to hire and retain the very best people and will soon announce changes that will improve our customer and vendor relations greatly, while spring-boarding us to global growth.
Finally, myself and our entire staff would like to REALLY thank the customers and vendors who have supported and continue to support us. Without our coveted users on GearSource.com, we would be nothing. While the journey has not always been without bumps, it is these bumps and our commitment to over-achieve, solve problems, find better or simpler processes… that’s what continues to drive us into the next decade of serving you.
President / CEO and loyal servant