Tell us a little about the history of your company.
The product that launched Shafer Enterprises and Cool Shirt® was a cooling vest for surgeons to wear in the operating room. As a distributor of replacement knees, hips, etc., Rich Shafer, the company’s founder, spent many years working beside surgeons for hours under hot operating room lights. In a true entrepreneurial spirit, Rich saw the opportunity to help the surgeons who were helping patients and the Surgeon CoolVest was born. Since 1987, Shafer Enterprises has grown exponentially to become the world leader in personal cooling systems for surgeons, racecar drivers, athletes, fire/emergency services/hazmat, military and industrial workers.
Using NASA study guidelines, Cool Shirt® active cooling systems help people manage body heat in extreme environments using circulating temperature-controlled cool water.
The employee/owners of the newly named CoolShirt Systems have over 70 years combined experience in the medical field, and the company holds 24 different patents. CoolShirt Systems operates from two facilities: a 65,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Loudon, Tennessee, and a 12,000-square-foot distribution center in Stockbridge, Georgia.
What has been your company’s business strategy to gain market share?
To increase market share, our focus has been on educating the market about the thermoregulation of the body and showing them how effective “active” cooling systems, using fluid instead of air, are in combating heat stress and preventing heat stroke.
Describe the core branded products of your company that you promote most heavily.
Our signature product is the patented Cool Shirt®, a component of a CoolShirt System, which is used in over 25,000 racecars worldwide. The system helps the driver maintain a safe core body temperature in cockpits with temperatures averaging 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
The patented CoolVest® System for surgeons is currently in over 1,000 operating rooms nationwide. For more than a decade, it’s been keeping surgeons cool, comfortable and focused during long surgeries.
Our AquaVest® System is specifically designed for firefighter rehab and industrial applications keeping workers safe and productive.
The Porticool 2 System is a revolutionary product that’s portable, requires no electricity and can be used in intrinsically safe areas. It’s the lightest untethered active cooling garment on the market today, providing unsurpassed flexibility and mobility. It features a moisture-wicking FR garment that helps maintain core body temperature, allowing employees to work more safely and maintain their level of performance longer in hot environments.
How do distributors contribute to your success in the marketplace?
Our global distribution network is diversified based on the individual divisions of the CoolShirt Systems brand of personal cooling products. The makeup of our distribution network ranges from small dealers to Master Warehouse Distributors Level 2 with exclusive territories.
While we have a few factory direct sales to individuals, our distributors make up over 80 percent of our sales volume.
Do you offer your distributors training and other value-added services?
We do offer training here at our Corporate Customer Service Center. Training can also be arranged off site depending on the terms of the distribution agreement. We provide sales support throughout the entire sales cycle and will also provide advertising support to Master Warehouse Distributors.
What business characteristics do you look for when selecting to work with a distributor?
Typically, we look for smaller dealers and distributors that are more in touch with their customer base. This helps in the process of educating the customer on the thermoregulation of the human body and how we can help them save lives.
Describe your current financial picture.
CoolShirt Systems has grown between 15 percent and 40 percent annually. This year, we are already exceeding goals set at 25 percent over 2011 figures. What has driven our sales increases year after year is the quality of the product, brand recognition, and an increase in the number of conventions that we attend annually.
What should distributors know about your company’s future, in terms of short- and long-range plans?
Short-term plans include a very strategic and targeted approach to our advertising as well as continued release of new collateral material. In addition, we are releasing two new products for 2012 that complement both our industrial line of products and our products for racing. Long-term plans include an increase in our manufacturing capacity.
CoolShirt Systems; 800-345-3176; www.coolshirt.com