When Cargo Made-EZ creator Adam Stock was asked how he was doing, Stock said, “Better than I deserve.” This humble comment represents a shift from being defined by what he does and instead focusing on who he wants to be, which is “someone who grows.” Stock was recently awarded $50,000 for winning the national 2 Minute Drill competition with his invention, Motor Mule Power Strap, a mechanical tie-down strap for vehicles.
For the last 18 months or so, Stock has been working out of a 12-foot by 12-foot shed in his backyard. He bought a 20-foot long shipping container (converted to a workspace) and he’s upgraded to a 3-foot by 3-foot CNC router, which boosts productivity from manufacturing one part at a time to 64 units at a time.
He said he has big hopes and dreams, and even divulged ideas for new products he plans to make, which will expand the capabilities of the “Motor Mule Power Strap,” but wants to put the reputation of Cargo Made-EZ first.
According to Stock, “We’ve spent a long time on product development — prototyping, trial and error, getting feedback from customers. Now we’ve really got a design that we haven’t had almost any problems with.” Right now, he added, his biggest goal is scaling. He has hired a marketing professional and a business management and sales expert to expand the business beyond word of mouth via its online presence and contracts with retailers: “Less focus on the design. We’ve got that. Let’s grow this company.”
Stock has a carefulness to the way he speaks about his business, and not in a way that feels as if he’s trying to say the right thing. It’s exactly that, full of care and respect for the people he serves with his business.
It seems this authenticity is gaining traction. Recently, he took a trip to Arizona to personally install four units on customers’ vehicles, but instead installed 15. He plans to return soon to install about 10 more. “Small numbers,” he said, but clearly they’re growing fast.
Nick Crabbs, co-chair of Boise Entrepreneur Week and partner and chief community officer at VYNYL, commented, “Adam Stock is showing off what’s best about entrepreneurship in Idaho. He has mastered the art of storytelling that is vital to corralling resources to his idea. It’s clear his innovation matters to him and truly believes in the change it brings to the world. This has now resonated with judges of pitch competitions both in Idaho and nationally. As Adam moves to the execution phase of growing his business, we’re excited to watch him put his winning attitude to work.”
Stock seems to have endless quotes, dense nuggets of inspiration anyone could live by, such as, “A job worth doing is worth doing right.” A phrase passed down through two generations and one he values enough to print on his business card.
His business’ mission hits close to home. Before Stock was born, his grandfather passed away in a trucking accident. “Something wasn’t done right when he passed away. Accidents happen when jobs aren’t done right. My favorite thing is, every time I tell someone I built the first motorized tie-down straps, someone’s got a story. They go, ‘Oh my gosh, that would have been so nice blankety-blank years ago.’ With Cargo Made, our job is to make it to where customers can do their job right, and that makes a safer and stronger community.”
Stock said it was a leap into the unknown that changed his life. Moving from Mesa, Arizona to Idaho to study engineering at Brigham Young University-Idaho, listening to the advice and encouragement of his teachers and fellow professionals and entering himself into a competition for his business idea has taken him farther than he thought possible.
He said he credits a supportive Idaho and Boise community with propelling him. First, he won the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge. He was then invited to the Boise Entrepreneur Week competition and won that as well. Lastly, he was invited to the “2 Minute Drill” television show where he took home $50,000 as the show’s winner. But Stock said he wouldn’t have had the confidence to make all of these things happen if it wasn’t for the Idahoan community he’s become a part of.
“I came up with the idea for the business in Arizona and it didn’t go anywhere,” Stock described. “I was going to Mesa Community College, and I was trying to integrate my business idea into my engineering classes. And the professors in Arizona were like, ‘No, you can’t do that. You have to do what we’re doing.’ When it came to Idaho, it was like, ‘You’ve got this idea. Awesome! Let’s make that your final project, and you can learn these points and build your business at the same time.’”
Stock said his neighbor recommended his first engineering competition to him and coached him through it. Then, he took a 12-week program through Boise State’s College of Innovation and Design and met Nic Miller, who introduced him to a “community of help” through which he learned how to give a business pitch, among a plethora of other necessary skills.
Stock is taking some time off from school to focus on the already successful business he’s built, but he plans to go back, perhaps in the fall. For now, he’s focused on growing the brand, and with a second baby due in a month or so, he hopes to carve out time to spend with the people he loves.
— Trisha Miller is also affiliated with Boise State University. This article was produced outside of her affiliation.