There are few of us who can say that by the time we graduated high school, we were founders and CEO’s of or own established company.
That’s exactly the situation that Tanner Harris and his brother Spencer are going to find themselves in.
The two brothers started Campfire Industries to sell their invention, the Wolf’em Stick, which is used to make desserts over a campfire. The design features a patent-pending double rotary handle system, a hard wood dowel treated with food grade mineral oil and a stainless steel rod. Last year, Campfire Industries sold nearly 1,400 Wolf’em sticks at fairs and a retail location inside Motorsports Land. This year they plan on selling 2,500-3,000.
The brothers have successfully undergone development, manufacturing, branding and retailing their product. In 2013, they traveled to New York to compete in a national competition for young entrepreneurs. There they placed second with their business plan and both received scholarships. But as with any business, the brothers continue to develop and refine their product.
“Once we have a bit more proven success, we are going to start hitting retailers so that we can expand the number of people we reach to a national audience,” said Harris. “Hopefully it will start taking off in the next couple of years.”
In the beginning, when the brothers had the idea to create the Wolf’em Sticks, they used broomsticks and wire hangers, leaving the sticks to fall apart after a few uses. After collaborating with experts at Bioinnovations Gateway (BiG), Campfire Industries has graduated to a more usable design and refined its manufacturing process.
“Now, we use a really good mechanical process, and we use quality materials too,” said Harris. “Before we were at home making them, and now it’s more of a consumer grade product.”
Campfire Industries and the Wolf’em Stick is an example of the kind of student-led innovation that can benefit from working or consulting with BiG. Scott Marland, executive director of BiG, says the company is set to successfully grow with its current product, and that it has the ability to be innovative and expand its offerings. He sees such a bright future for the Campfire Industries that he’s even buying his own Wolf’em Stick.
“These guys are really bright and have a great idea,” said Marland. “I wish we would see more student-led innovation and ideas. BiG is the perfect environment to foster the growth of their ideas and businesses.”
Before they were introduced to BiG, the brothers had been working with a teacher at Northridge High School who suggested that Marland might be able to help them with the design issues they were facing.
“I came in, he talked to me about what our product is like and what we can do to help enhance some of the different points we were having trouble with,” said Harris. “It’s been helpful for us to meet someone like Scott who knows a ton in this area. He’s been a great help.”
The brothers are considering adding attachments to the middle of the Wolf’em Stick that would allow users to roast things like hot dogs and marshmallows. They are also contemplating prototyping their own campfire.
“For different fairs that we have done, we have been using portable campfires,” said Harris. “Now we’re thinking about making our own campfire to sell with the branding we already have.”
As their success continues to grow, the brothers are now looking to the future and how this business will help them not only in college, but as they continue in their carreers.
“I feel like I’ve learned so much from this, especially about the retailing industry and the manufacturing industry,” said Harris. “Now I have a lot of interest in this, so I feel like I might be able to do something with this in college and for my future career.”