Home Back Issues May 2012 Sweet smell of success

Sweet smell of success

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012

By Jon Bell

0512_GamePlan_AirDelightsWhile on a visit to his cousin’s Beaverton home more than 20 years ago, Steve Bronson caught a whiff of something that flipped on a light bulb in his mind: air fresheners.

It was more than just a hint of lavender or a trace of an alpine meadow. Bronson’s cousin, Glenda, it turned out, was a bit of an air freshener fanatic. In every room of her home she had air fresheners, spending about $350 a month.

Bronson had been running his own one-man commercial cleaning company, but he’d been wanting to start a mail-order business to supplement the income. Air fresheners seemed like the right idea, so he launched Air Delights. Without any business education, Bronson had only his ideas to go on.

“I had a blue-collar background and I graduated high school,” says Bronson, 51, “but everything I’ve done with Air Delights has just been based on my own ideas.”

For Bronson, that meant sending a letter to every air freshener company he could find, selling to his friends and family — his first customer was, no surprise, Glenda — and landing an unlikely account as a distributor for a large air freshener and soap dispenser company called Technical Concepts. Three years in and on the verge of throwing in the towel he bought a computer and figured out how to take his business online. With a lot of hard work and dedication, it took off.

Today, Air Delights sells more than 25,000 different plumbing and restroom accessory products to 50,000 customers around the world, including 25 U.S. embassies, Harvard University and the Ferrari World amusement park in Abu Dhabi. Housed in a commercial building in Beaverton purchased last October, the company employs 10 and, according to Bronson, has revenues approaching $5 million a year.

Though Air Delights’ residential business was hit hard during the recession — the company no longer even serves that market — Bronson says the commercial side has been steady. He attributes that to a solid reputation as a trustworthy company and a larger focus on more specialized plumbing repair parts. Air Delights also has begun to dabble in private labeling and manufacturing its own products such as air fresheners and soap dispensers, an endeavor that Bronson sees as the key to growing his once-little company by about 10% to 15% a year.

“If you’ve got determination,” he says, “you’d be surprised at what you can do.”

 

 

More Articles

The Bookseller

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Everyone knows college is expensive, but a look at the numbers brings that into sharp — and painful — focus.


Read more...

The short list: 5 hot coffee shops for entrepreneurs

Contributed Blogs
Friday, November 14, 2014

CupojoeBY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Oregon entrepreneurs reveal their favorite caffeine hangouts.


Read more...

A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE & KIM MOORE

Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.


Read more...

Podcast: Turn Things Around with David Marquet

Contributed Blogs
Friday, October 17, 2014
davidmarquet thumbBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

How can you move from a command-and-control leadership model to one of true empowerment and accountability? David Marquet did, and he took notes along the way.


Read more...

Healthcare Perspective

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Majd El-Azma, president and CEO of LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, followed by the Healthcare Powerlist.


Read more...

Semiconductor purgatory

News
Monday, October 06, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Intel's manufacturing way station; Merkley's attack dog; Diamond Foods gets into the innovation business.


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS