RLT.com Industries - How We Started
In 1999 I was an executive in a dot-com company that was quickly going bankrupt. By the end of 2000, I had lost my job and all of my life savings in the dot-com stock market meltdown. I couldn't find another job and I was quickly running out of money, so I took $200 out of savings and I started the web site at www.Trebuchet.com.
The trebuchet is a perfect tool for teaching the principles of engineering, physics, and even history. My goal was to make trebuchet kits available as educational products to students, teachers and other interested people. I cut the first 30 kits in my garage, by hand, and it took me the whole summer to sell them all. My friends laughed at me and said I should keep trying to find a job, but I had sent out over 100 resumes and gotten no feedback at all. I knew there were no jobs to be had for someone with my background.
So, I designed more kits. I bought power tools on credit cards to speed up the production. I worked hard to improve the web site, and I added another web site at www.Mangonel.com. I produced all the kits and promoted the web sites myself. Then I discovered a company that would make a catapult watch! Ok, it seemded like a good time to expand into the toy and novelty market. I negotiated a production of watches from them, and that was the first product for a new web site at www.BackyardArtillery.com. A friend of mine told me about the rubber band machine gun, so I researched that and it was the second product on BackyardArtillery.com.
By this time I was shipping about 3 to 5 packages a day, mostly of the trebuchet and mangonel kits. So I kept adding products and working about 14 hours a day, seven days a week to improve and promote the products and the web sites. By luck I was discovered and written about in a couple of magazines, and I appeared on TV in shows about catapults. This all helped to make the business more successful in that difficult first year.
Now we've got a 6400 square foot factory warehouse with an office, and a handful of employees who help with the production, packing and shipping of all the products. We only sell from the web sites right now, but in the future we may try to open some retail stores. I'm still working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week trying to grow the business. It's hard work, but I'll never go back to working for someone else again! I love what I do now. And the most gratifying part of it is the thank-you letters I get from parents and kids all over the world who've discovered a new love for engineering and physics, and just how much fun they can be!
Today our mission is just that, to inspire kids to develop a better understanding and appreciation for physics, engineering and history. Most of our products are designed with that goal in mind. But we also have products that are intended to be just plain fun. Hey, you gotta have fun once in a while!
Thanks for reading our story, and have a great day!
-- Ron L. Toms