Kris Nielson is the CEO and Chairman or Monkey Bar Storage Systems, a fast growing company that assists individuals in designing and installing garage organization systems. Kris received undergrad degree from Brigham Young – University Idaho where he studied business administration.
Kris: I came to school at BYU-Idaho up in Rexburg Idaho. I set out to go into law but decided to change course when I took some business classes and loved organizational strategy. During college I began to run some incubator businesses and really enjoyed it and a friend of mine introduced me to his father who had some patents and wanted me to start doing some business development work for him and essentially that’s how I got started. I was very close to the founder. He and I were very close friends. He’s an engineer by nature and he develops products and is brilliant at it as well. He let me take the reins and really run the company. It was natural for me. I started bringing some very experienced successful business people at an advisory board level that helped give me direction because I was very inexperienced. I was able to execute upon what they would tell me to do and that’s how I evolved into becoming you know a leader of a company from not having a lot of experience.
Question: How big was the company when you stepped into it?
Kris: A couple hundred thousand dollars and it was about two years old.
Question: Were you nervous starting out?
Kris: Extremely nervous, it was very nerve-wracking to figure out how to take on liability at such a young age and I had other options of things to do, I was passing all those up to take this on and I was putting my eggs in this basket so that was that was a little nerve-wracking.
Question: What is the service that Monkey Bar provides?
Kris: When we started my partner Jared started out by patenting a product that he had actually just designed for his own garage- it’s a garage shelving system. He didn’t like what he saw at the big-box stores. So he designed something for himself and at the encouragement of his wife, he decided to start making this product available to others. When he started to do that, it started to take on some natural interests. And so he started to he was manufacturing it right in his own garage- 20 ton presses right in his own garage at home just in the suburbs of Boise Idaho. That’s how it started but it’s evolved very much since then now we’re in the polymers industry, now we’re in the wood industry with cabinetry… So we develop shelving systems, cabinetry systems and flooring systems for residential garages and so it’s a garage organization and storage system for homeowners. People want to have a place to put their things and they want to have it organized.
Question: How did you know when you were really starting to hit a cord and this company was going somewhere.
Kris: It was a it was a few years after the downturn in 2008 was when we really realized that we were we were onto something I mean we were having some success before then but when we really started to be able to replicate the model and figure out how to help these independent business owners- these dealers of ours- become successful in the garage industry. My partner Adam, my main partner, he is one of my best friends and he’s one of the most passionate people I know. He saw the opportunity and really said, “Kris we’ve got to figure out how to make these dealers successful” With his tailwind I started to organize things and started to pull the right people together and so that we could focus on how to really develop this market and then we pulled in one of our most successful dealers to help us on this journey and he’s been phenomenal. So really pulling the right people together- the team and capitalizing on each other’s strengths has been kind of how its come about and they all helped me realize just the value of the opportunity.
Question: What’s your growth rate been like?
Kris: So this year we’ve been about 45 to 50 percent over last year. It’s been a grueling this year for sure, but it’s good because we have the infrastructure in place where it doesn’t feel like 45 to 50 percent which is that much better.
Question: Do you have patents in place?
Kris: Yes, patented products and we have distribution through these dealer networks that have people that we essentially partner with to bring the products to market.
Question: What are you seeking to accomplish?
Kris: Our objective is to bring greater order to people’s homes through their garage. The garage is the last place that people see when they go to work and it’s usually the first place people see when they get home- that can be a uplifting experience or not and so we’re looking for the best dealers to represent the products that want a great business opportunity and then want to go out and have a lifestyle where they can help people everyday and there’s a lot of gratification that you know comes from that. Space is prime and how we use our space is critical to our lifestyle to being able to not go by the second set of skis because we can’t find the first set because they’re buried somewhere in the garage or any other you know assortment of items.
Question: How does a person find you guys?
Kris: You can just find us on the web at monkeybarstorage.com and you can go on and fill out a form inquiring and requesting somebody to get in contact with you.
Question: Can you walk us through what happens during a consultation visit?
Kris: Somebody will show up that represents the local market and first they’ll ask you what your goals are- they want to know what you’re trying to accomplish and they’ll assess your storage space. They look at hundreds of garage spaces so they are they’re very trained in understanding how to make the best use of space. Once they understand what your needs are and what your goals are then they start to help you understand how you can use your space to meet those goals and they’ll start proposing and mapping out and laying out and designing a garage. So it’s a well-functioning but also a well-designed garage. Then they’ll work that up and they’ll give that to you in the form of a quote or a consultation proposal. They’ll provide a quote or a they’ll provide a design a 3d design of the entire garage the shelves the cabinets the flooring and they’ll even throw in props so you can get a virtual experience of what you can look forward to.
Question: How you deal with potential clients that have way too much stuff?
Kris: A lot of times our dealers will either use a third party company to help come in and get it to the point where they want to take it on. Some dealers will take that on as an extra service or they’ll outsource it to somebody else or they’ll just tell the homeowner you need to get this to a certain state before we’re going to go any further.
Question: You mentioned that you do different materials such as polymers and wood as well?
Kris: Typically we see garages consist of the wall space, the floor space and the ceiling space, we have things that maximize all those. We have ceiling racks, we have cabinets and shelves that go on the walls we have polymers that go on the floors to help them be easier to clean- that’s the goal. They’re decorative as well but the main purpose is to keep them easy to clean which concrete can be a little more difficult. All of those things come together to provide a entire system.
Question: How long does the entire process take?
Kris: We’re the manufacturer of all the products. We make all the cabinets ourselves in Rexburg, Idaho. We can cut a whole cabinet system out in a day and ship it the next day and installation takes a couple days at most. A heavy full system can take two days but we can sometimes get our systems in in a day.
Question: What are most people looking for when they do the garage organization system with monkey bars?
Kris: People want to they want their garages back and so they want to maximize the space they have. They also like to have things accessible and want to know where things are at and they want it to look nice. Depending on the client, we can go more heavy on looking nice- if they want to don’t want to see anything with cabinets- or if they want more functionality with the rack systems that we have and everything in between.
Question: What’s a typical cost range of the system?
Kris: Five to ten thousand dollars and that includes that shelving and contractor fees. We definitely do garages north of that but that’s kind of a typical average size home.
Question: How does an aspiring dealer contact you?
Kris: So we have lots of people contact us all over the country for wanting to be dealers and we take that relationship very seriously and it’s a relationship that we’re going to invest heavily in and so we’re particular about the people that we bring on but once we bring them on it’s a great relationship and a very prosperous one for both parties. [On our website contractors can] request info on how to become a dealer.
Edited for Concision