After losing his job of over 20 years, Phillip Porter decided to put his MBA from St. Thomas to work and start his own business. As he considered the possibilities, he began cataloguing the valuables in his home. He discovered the merits of keeping an up-to-date inventory and he figured others would pay for the service, and a business was born. He and his brother, Ron, started their electronic inventory business in March 2005.
Their company, Crystal Treasures, Inc., offers an inventory service that professionally and confidentially documents assets and treasured keepsakes for recovery in case of a fire, tornado, storm damage, burglary or other disasters. Their service was developed for homeowners, businesses, schools and churches to maximize insurance claims as well as making the claim process flow smoother.
“A fire or storm can not only destroy a home, but can wipe out a lifetime of precious memories,” Philip said. “Thieves can invade our homes when we least expect it. Statistics from 2003 show over 2 million burglaries occurred – that’s one every 14.6 seconds!”
After a disaster, anguish grows when the insurance company asks for proof of ownership. Statistics compiled by the National Insurance Industry show that fewer than 20% of homeowners have an updated home inventory record. On average, claimants receive 30% less without an inventory. “Ron and I saw plenty of possibilities in electronic inventory, because it is a new industry with a large market, strong demand and little competition,” he said.
The Porters are building a successful business using their own management expertise, as well as networking through the University of St. Thomas Alumni Association, and support from the South Metro chapter of SCORE (Counselors to America’s Small Business). SCORE provided valuable advice on marketing and structuring the company. Phillip, himself, is a former SCORE counselor.
As a resource partner with the SBA, SCORE provides information vital to small business success. This includes counseling on financing options, business planning, marketing strategies, product development and more. Individual members and counseling teams with diverse business knowledge and experience provide one-on-one, confidential counseling at no cost to the business owner.
Phillip, President; Ron, CEO; and Eric Eberhardt, vice president of manufacturing, currently run Crystal Treasures from satellite offices in their homes in Eagan, Rogers, and Minneapolis. They plan to get traditional office space and add employees within the year. “Right now, we are working on developing our name and reputation. Trust and credibility are the cornerstones of this business,” Philip says.
Their business philosophy sums it up: “Agreeing upon a common vision is a beginning, creating common goals is progress, recognizing dedicated work is a joy and working together respectfully is long-term success for our employees, consultants, clients and investors.”