Grandpa Gus’s Wisdom
Why Beacon works for Vic West in three words:
Simple, Easy, Ethical. This is the promotional tag for a special mouse repellent that is produced, packaged and distributed by Beacon Group, for a company called Vic West Importers. They make a variety of rodent and pest control products and also import products from Canada and overseas. Since owner Nick Olynyk brought the business to the United States, it has experienced tremendous growth – particularly around clever solutions to a common unwanted problem – varmints!
Originally an online-only company, Vic West makes and sells non-poisonous, non-toxic repellents, using all-natural materials. They also sell safe and humane “critter traps.” Packaged in a no-fuss, no-muss style, the rodent repellents have really taken off. Perhaps in part, due to their old -fashioned spokesperson.
Meet Grandpa Gus. He sells mice repellent pouches. He was environmentally friendly before it was cool.
He’s a homespun character that people can relate to,” says Olynyk of the image he’s created for Grandpa Gus, who is based in part on real people from his home in Canada. In his “Straight-talk” to customers who range from farmers to RV enthusiasts, Grandpa Gus explains unapologetically about how other rodent control methods are either not safe, inhumane or can cause a very odorous result. This illuminates on those few words – SIMPLE, EASY, ETHICAL – and how they have resulted in Grandpa Gus’s Mouse Repellent being sold in 3500 retail outlets throughout the country. But how did Beacon get involved?
Olynyk started looking for ways to produce and package his mouse repellent online but wasn’t having much luck. He had previously hired people to work in his own basement to fill the signature hand-made-looking burlap pouches that contain the repellent. Managing this became too complicated. He wanted to outsource, but there were so many different steps, and the work was very “hands-on.” This wasn’t a process that could just be scaled up to machines. He called around and talked to several companies, but decided that Beacon had several advantages for his unique situation. Instead of seeing the process as complicated – Beacon saw it as a good fit for our capabilities and offered some ideas that would make the process run smoother. So, even though our location in Tucson is not close to his biggest customers in the Midwest, Olynyk says that “Being able to meet our needs simply trumped location.”
And EASY for Beacon.
Customized solutions are what Beacon Group does well. After the manufacturing and filling process began with Beacon Group, it just made sense for Vic West to bring more steps under the same roof or roofs. Today, Beacon handles the following processes for Grandpa Gus’s Mouse Repellent at our manufacturing facility on Glenn in Tucson:
- Sourcing of key ingredients and receiving of packaging
- Production – mixing and blending of product
- Filling of the bags – one of the more labor-intensive parts
- Packaging and sealing of products
- Boxing into cases
At this point, Beacon employees deliver the products to our Fulfillment Warehouse where it ships. Beacon handles both large shipments to retail distributors, as well as single orders for products that come from the internet. Olynyk admits that the arrangement wasn’t without some growing pains, (production in 2018 grew six times over 2017), but that Beacon always managed to deliver. He mentions that Beacon participated in problem-solving production issues to improve speed and accuracy, without removing workers. Beacon’s quality control practices have offered VicWest the “precision and preservation of materials attained by big-brand companies,” mentions Olynyk. “And at Beacon customers are valued, even if a smaller company. We get a level of attention we don’t get in other places.”
Beacon vice president of operations, Dave Johnson, says that fast-growing companies like Vic West are a good match for Beacon’s services. “As they grow, we grow – building infrastructure, customized training and hiring more people to fill our customers’ needs.” Beacon Group has made it easy for Olynyk to let go of many of the intermediate steps, by handling everything from start to finish.
With an ETHICAL advantage.
If you listen to Grandpa Gus, you’ll learn that even handling pests can be done with respect and integrity. There is another reason that Olynyk selected Beacon as his production partner. “I get such a good feeling going through the production floor at Beacon. People are happy to be there – they are thankful for their jobs. They take special care and pride in what they do, compared to people I had hired before off Craig’s list.”
Johnson agrees. “We appreciate all of our business customers, but we work best with companies that really value our mission,” he says.
Olynyk adds that he encourages other business owners to talk to Beacon. “Push them on their capabilities. You’ll be surprised at what they are able to do for you.” On any given day, over 25 individuals with disabilities are working on tasks to make and ship Grandpa Gus’s products. Beacon’s ability to serve the growing needs of VicWest continues to create more opportunities for people with disabilities.
The last time he was at Beacon, Olynyk met a parent in the lobby, and after learning he was a customer whose products her son worked with, she explained to him how wonderful it was that his company helped provide jobs like this. She told him that her son’s esteem has grown since working at Beacon and contributing to his future like he sees his brother doing.
That would sure make Grandpa Gus proud.
For more information call 520-622-4874. To inquire about Beacon Group’s Manufacturing Services, contact Jim Andrews at extension 141. For information on Warehouse and Shipping solutions contact Jim Campbell at 520-622-4874 at extension 105.