Business owner, musician invents guitar accessory
Local man starting to get noticed by music industry
Published: Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 11:38 p.m.
The knobs overall became smaller, so if a guitarist is using one or more pedals in line, they don’t bump into each other. Smith ended up making them silver, and then glow-in-the-dark, because black was harder to see on stage in dim or changing lighting.
Little interest at first
The first potential investors Smith sought didn’t see the vision.
“They would, in essence, laugh at my knob,” he said. With every year that passed, he feared looking out to see someone else had beat his idea to market, but frustration just fed the fire. So while working and later as he opened Alcove, Smith kept at it on nights and weekends, putting sweat and money into his ideas.
The patent process alone cost about $6,000. Another $10,000 went to craft the original steel molds.
“And that’s not producing any units, that’s not packaging, that’s not putting up a website to do e-commerce sales,” he said. “There were a whole lot of costs with no guarantees it would ever get going.”
Even though he could cut costs by outsourcing to China, Smith keeps as much of the Option Knob work at home as possible. Injection-mold manufacturing is done at a plastics plant in Albertville, then the works are packaged in San Diego and shipped back to Smith, who in turn ships to distributors. E-commerce runs through his sitewww.optionknob.com.
From business studies at the University of Alabama, Smith knew it typically takes five years from market to a measure of success for any new line. He may be just ahead of the curve.
Over the past year, his line has been picked up by two international distributors, reaching into 35 or so countries, and added by Guitar Center, a chain with more than 250 stores in the U.S. alone, as well as others. In Tuscaloosa, Option Knob Inc. products are available at Guitar Gallery and Tuscaloosa Music Service.
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Profits expected soon
Any money he’s made thus far has gone back into the business, but it works out because the Alcove is up and running well, Smith said. Manufacturing costs are increasing, but he’s seeing risks pay off.