Dallas-Fort Worth is one of the top corporate markets in the nation, home to more than 20 Fortune 500 headquarters and the U.S. home base for many international companies. It’s also an exceptionally vibrant startup hub. Here are three innovators that are bringing fresh ideas to the consumer goods market.
When I first heard that the Solo Stove burned a nearly smokeless fire, I didn’t believe it. But after several impromptu campfires with our two pyromaniac sons, I can say that the experience is worth the upgrade. How does it work? The fire pits eliminate smoke by burning with higher heat. The company, owned by Solo Brands, has grown to 170 employees, with sales in the first six months of 2021 outpacing all of 2020, when revenue was $133 million for the fiscal year. This fall, Solo Brands opened a 430,000-square-foot headquarters in Grapevine to support growth and launched colored fire pits. “People are looking to extend their living spaces outdoors,” CEO John Merris says. “We want to create good moments that lead to lasting memories.” —Will Maddox
Elevating Men’s Dress Socks
Kevin Wohlman spent the better half of a year looking for the perfect fabric for a sock line he wanted to create. The former PwC accountant says he got to that point after struggling to find a dress sock that didn’t slip down his ankles throughout the day. The result? Fabrics made using special fibers and 200 needle count knitting machines—and launch of Southern Scholar in 2014. “I’ve spent the majority of my 20s relentlessly researching, testing, and re-engineering our socks,” Wohlman says. Available online, sock designs range from micro chevrons to traditional solids and stripes. Since its debut, Southern Scholar has doubled revenue year over year, even during the pandemic, and is on track to once again double gains in 2021. Wohlman has expanded his product line to include no-show socks, ties, and pocket squares. What’s next? “Becoming a household name,” he says. —Bianca Montes
Keeping Things Cool
When companies such as Yeti helped make high-performance coolers all the rage, local entrepreneur John Hohenshelt noticed that people would slap a cheap sticker on the side of an expensive cooler. He saw an opportunity for custom-branded products, and he set to work. The former military officer and law school graduate left his family’s manufacturing business in Dallas to found Taiga Coolers in 2013. His venture lets companies of all sizes put their logos into the mold of the coolers, which can be customized to fit each brand’s color scheme. “If they’re going to spend their money on marketing their name, why would they have my [company’s] name on there?” Hohenshelt says. The veteran-owned business has attracted clients like Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, and Mossy Oak, but also sells to consumers and has a new model partially made from hemp. Taiga Coolers was growing by as much as 30 percent a year before the pandemic, and sales have already picked back up in 2021. —Will Maddox