MADE Winners - Functional Products Category

By Staff Reports, posted Mar 6, 2020

Grunt Tough Inc.
Year founded: 2019
Number of employees: 4
Top official: Brandon Noel, president/CEO
Company description: A software and manufacturing company that is a VA-certified, service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB)
Target market: 5G and satellite installation and equipment providers
Company growth: Grunt Tough initially took on 5G small cell site acquisition and installation here in Cape Fear area but quickly grew to also managing the project in the coastal areas from North Carolina down to Florida, all of southern Texas and parts of the Midwest
How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? “Need drives innovation. 5G is brand new, so when trying to mount the small cell site equipment the best options available came from the satellite industry. However, it did not always work. Grunt Tough was challenged by one of the companies leading the installation efforts on behalf of the 5G Spectrum holders to come up with a better solution, and we delivered!”
What are your future goals for the product? “Grunt Tough is expanding beyond just the nonpenetrating roof mounts and has plans to branch into manufacturing of mounting systems for 5G in many other capacities such as light/telephone poles, vehicular and even rapid deployment systems for wireless internet in remote areas.”

Guitar Cabinets Direct
Year founded: 2011
Number of employees: 12
Top official: KC Barnard
Company description: Manufacturer of vintage reproduction guitar amplifier cabinets and custom furniture
Target market: Musicians, designers and homeowners Company growth: The company originally provided guitar cabinets to one customer and now sells cabinets to consumers and trade accounts all over the world.
How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? “We hire people within the local community and much of the materials we use are provided by local vendors.”
How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? “We reproduce vintage guitar amplifier cabinets from the early 50s to the late 60s.”
What are your future goals for the product? “Continue to develop our web presence and consumer markets through a strong brand identity.”

Year founded: 2018
Number of employees: 5
Top official: Jayna Crittenden, founder
Company description: Producer and distributor of safe, organic household cleaning products
Target market: “Women 25-55”
Company growth: “SQUEAK has grown organically through social media, ambassadors and customers that recommend SQUEAK to their friends, families and networks. We have grown from a local pickup here in Wilmington company to a wholesaler for retailers, subscription box companies and Amazon.”
How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? “We are a little early to claim any significant economic impact in this region, but our impact goes deeper than money. Our mission is to help people understand why using less synthetics chemicals in their homes and spaces can significantly improve their health and the health of their families.”
What are your future goals for the product? “My goal and dream for SQUEAK is to be recognized and relied on for bringing light to a shady, somewhat unregulated industry. All people deserve to know that the cleaning products they use inside of their homes and spaces could be laden with synthetic ingredients that have been linked to diseases like but not limited to asthma, chronic headaches, lung disease, infertility and even cancer.”  
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