In 2011, U.S. Navy SEAL Eli Crane obtained a bottle opener made of inactive .50 caliber ammunition from his brother serving in the Marines overseas. Eli took it, painted it black, and added his unit’s insignia. His platoon loved it. Realizing the potential business opportunity, the entrepreneur-at-heart and his wife, Jen, enlisted other military personnel to help get Bottle Breacher up and running. They handcrafted unique .50 caliber bottle openers out of their garage and later showcased their products on national television in 2014. “From there, everything just blew up,” Jen describes. A flood of online interest crashed the company’s website, but it wasn’t anything that a trained Navy SEAL couldn’t handle.
“If it weren’t for the web, we’d still be knocking on doors trying to sell our products.”
Jen Crane, Co-owner
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Eli left the Navy after 13 years and relocated his family to Tucson to focus on Bottle Breacher. The company moved into new quarters, expanded their product line to include other accessories and apparel, and quickly adopted AdWords, Google’s advertising program. “We knew that we were growing and that was the next step. Google is such a powerhouse, and it’s how we reach customers we normally wouldn’t,” Jen says. They also use Google Analytics to measure web traffic, hone marketing campaigns, and identify prime shopping times. “We run a really tight ship here, so we constantly check Analytics to see if we’re putting the right amount of time into the right places,” explains Jen. “You can’t be successful unless you understand the numbers.”
Bottle Breacher has 35 employees.
Every month, Bottle Breacher sells their products to thousands of customers worldwide. And the broader community has benefitted from their success. “Growth for us isn’t just about increasing sales. It’s about being able to reinvest our earnings to help veterans and active duty military personnel,” explains Jen. “It’s also about bringing more of our manufacturing in-house.” Today, they’re doing both. Bottle Breacher manufactures almost all of their products in the U.S., most of which is done in their own Tucson facility. They hire as many veterans as they can because, as Jen describes, “veterans are the hardest working people we know.” They also support numerous non-profits—over 200 in 2016 alone, many of which are veteran or first responder organizations. The company has come a long way since their early days in the garage. But amidst all their growth, they’ve remained true to their mission and their roots. “If a Navy SEAL doesn’t like it, we don’t sell it,” Jen says.
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