Home Tags PRO USA Inc.
Milwaukee-based SharkCrates, a packaging and containers manufacturer, has brought to market a new shipping solution that can not only save businesses space, but also make sure their products arrive safely.
Nate Collins, president of SharkCrates, said the idea for the company’s heavy-duty, wooden, collapsible shipping crates was spurred by an existing problem that was happening at another company.
After graduating from UW-Madison, Collins worked for PRO USA Inc., a Stuttgart, Germany-based supplier of steel, aluminum and heatset blanket bars. Collins later opened PRO USA’s Milwaukee location, and the company is now a sister to SharkCrates.
“PRO USA imports a lot of material from Germany. We were using boxes and sometimes we would buy crates on the open market. We were just never really happy with the cost or the quality,” said Collins.
One of the engineers at PRO USA’s German headquarters created a kind of bracket and put it onto pieces of wood, and the idea behind SharkCrates was born. PRO USA initially began using the collapsible crates to ship some of their own products, but other companies quickly took notice.
“We started producing those brackets in mass (in 2018), and it was the kind of thing where we just knew we were on to something,” said Collins.
PRO USA switched from having a 100,000-square-foot space in their German warehouse dedicated to the crates to opening up an entire facility in Milwaukee for the products in 2019. SharkCrates come in 10 standard sizes online, and custom-made crates are also available.
“One of the neat things about the system is we can design and build these very quickly because it’s a modular-based system,” said Collins. “We just get these things out the door really fast. We’ll build anything from like a 1-foot cube to crates that are 20 feet long.”
Industrial manufacturers are SharkCrates’ biggest customers, although the company has received inquiries from all kinds of businesses, even artists and universities. The automotive and aerospace industries are also categories where SharkCrates have sold well. Collins said the company has reached the mid-seven figures in expected revenue for the year and is experiencing growth of about two to three times. There are currently eight full-time employees.
“We’re definitely going to need to add more employees next year, there’s just no question about it,” said Collins.
As for what’s next for SharkCrates, the company plans to open a second distribution hub in the United States, which would not be local. This will allow the company to service additional countries it can’t reach now due to cost. Collins said the company is also working to streamline all of their operations and processes through automation.
“Having run other companies and bought other companies, with SharkCrates we kind of just developed a product out of nowhere,” Collins said. “Just the fact that people are buying it just amazes me. You just don’t think you’re going to create this manual product and people will buy it.”
Leadership: Nate Collins, president
What it does: Manufactures heavy-duty collapsible crates
Next Goals: Open a second manufacturing facility
Funding: No outside investment
Holiday flash sale! Subscribe to BizTimes and save nearly 40%!
Limited time offer. New subscribers only.