Pacific Coast Business Times: All Grown Up
By: Marlize Van Romburgh
These SLO entrepreneurs have come a long way
San Luis Obispo’s startups are growing up fast.
Thirteen years ago, two San Luis Obispo high school students started their own company because they couldn’t find part-time jobs to fit their busy student-athlete schedules. That business, Meathead Movers, has since grown into a flourishing moving and storage empire that helps some 180 college students put themselves through school.
And home-grown tech firms like iFixit, Courto Solutions and TechXpress have survived and thrived through the downturn and beyond. Here’s a closer look at how far four of SLO’s young companies have come since inception:
MEATHEAD MOVERS: When brothers and then-high schoolers Aaron and Evan Steed couldn’t find part-time jobs to fit their student, the two started their own business. That was in 1997, and since then, Meathead Movers ahs grown into a 180-person company doing more than 3,000 moves per hear throughout the Tri-Counties.
Meathead packed up and made its own move in May, relocating to brand new headquarters at 3600 S. Higuera Street. It revamped n existing building and constructed a 700-unit mini storage facility to complement the thriving moving business.
“We figure we can better service our customers if we can be a one-stop shop,” Present and CEO Aaron Steed said on a tour of the businesses’ new 114,000-squre-foot corporate offices.
“Meathead” is a pejorative term for a muscled, iron-pumping young man who pounds protein shakes like water and plans his day around the gym. But at Meathead Movers, it means providing students, many of them athletes, with a means to pay for college. “We take a lot of pride in being able to say that we provide student-athletes with a job through college,” Steed says.
The company’s proprietary software and slick new website allow consumers to browse through employees bios and pick specific movers for each job, selecting them by anything from the school they attend to the sports they play.
Meathead Movers’ aggressive expansion plans were somewhat hampered by the economic downturn, but the blow was by no means fatal, Steed said. “A lot of renters are more liquid than homeowners,” he said. That’s helped business as people sell and downsize homes or move to cheaper apartments. Meathead Movers opened its second location, a 5,700-square-foot branch in Camarillo, in 2007 and plans to open two more in San Diego and Orange counties by early 2011. The company also has franchising plans in the works. “We want to perfect the operating of a store from a franchisee’s perspective by opening up more company owned stores first,” Steed said.