In 1995 when Dale Goetz began using old tires as door mats on his family farm in Park, Kansas, he didn’t know it at the time, but he was laying the groundwork for what would become Double D Family Mat Shop Inc.
While Dale had created a pragmatic solution out of old tires, a fellow feedlot owner from St. Francis noticed a different opportunity. He noticed the tire treads being discarded to make the door mats and asked Dale if it would be possible to produce mats from the treads to be used in the feedlots.
This made total sense to Dale. Tire tread was an effective and durable anti-slip surface. By applying the material attributes of treads, Dale could develop mats that could be used to protect his cattle from injury. ‘‘I fed cattle my whole life,” shared Dale. “I noticed that they would slip, fall and get hurt in our feedlot. Those injuries were costing us a lot of money. The concrete surface was uncomfortable for them, and it made the processing area very noisy.” Dale cut the sidewalls out of the tires and created a machine that would cross cut the tread so that it was able to lay flat. To create the mats he would manually assemble basket-weave style mats cattle could walk on.
Curious about performance of the mats, Dale tested several at a St. Francis feedlot.
After seeing the mats in action at the feedlot, farmers and feedlot owners from surrounding towns began contacting Dale to purchase his mats proving the concept of the product.
Dale and his wife Dena decided to officially launch their cattle mats manufacturing business in 1995.
Since that time their journey has been full of successes both domestically and internationally. In 2014, the company decided to enter the global market. Their first major international order came from Mort & Co., feeding lot specialists in Australia.
‘’In the beginning, it was difficult and scary because we had no exporting experience’’ says Christin Merwald, marketing director of the company. ‘‘That is when we decided to contact the Kansas SBDC. The SBDC was very helpful in providing initial export guidance on how to correctly file export documentation. They referred us to the right resources – like the International Trade Administration and the U.S. Commercial Service – who helped us participate in the Alberta Beef Industry Conference in Canada. We generated $10,000 in sales from this connection. They also guided us in the process of obtaining a D.U.N.S. number and provided us with a list of potential local customers in a 100 miles radius.’’
The company has successfully entered the Canadian and Australian markets. In three years, they have shipped over $270,000 worth of products. Currently, they ship annually three containers to Australia and an average of 10 pallets to Canada. ‘‘We are looking forward to continuing our work with the Kansas SBDC and Mariel, our advisor, to help us find distributors in Australia and Canada, and develop an international business and marketing plan that will allows us to successfully enter new markets in South America, Central America and Asia.’’ says Amber Hutchison, Double D Family Mat Shop’s COO.
Dale’s advice to someone thinking about starting a business is to ‘’Go for it. Whatever your idea is, don’t be scared. But always be careful who you let in the door. Protect your secret of success, and take the time to find and use the resources available to help you grow.’’
This year, Double D Family Mat Shop celebrates 22 years of manufacturing custom-built, heavy-duty livestock slip reduction mats.
More about Double D Family Mat Shop
Kansas SBDC Advisor
Mariel Huasanga, FHSU
How Kansas SBDC helped Double D Family Mat Shop