> Small Business > Entrepreneurial Superstars

How we got started

7 of 8
Well done: Viking Range
Well done: Viking Range
Fred Carl Jr. cold-called manufacturers to get Viking Range launched.
Viking Range is known primarily for a groundbreaking appliance that combines the best features of commercial and residential ranges. Founded in 1986 in Greenwood, Miss., by native son Fred Carl Jr., the company employs more than 1,000 local residents and has annual sales of about $300 million.

At the start, Carl learned that the deals you walk away from matter as much as the ones you do.

Seeing residential demand for industrial-strength stoves, he drew up designs for a hybrid and began making the rounds of manufacturers, starting with Wolf. "They said, 'This has merit, but we're too busy to get involved -- good luck,'" Carl says. "The rest of the manufacturers basically hung up on me."

Then he met with another company and got close to signing a contract. "I got a call informing me that the CEO wanted to meet to discuss the terms," Carl says. "'This is great,' I thought. 'The big guy wants to meet me.' So I met him at the Memphis airport, where he had a layover. He resembled [Soviet premier Nikita] Khrushchev, and by the end of our meeting he was acting like him too."

The CEO wanted a one-year exclusivity deal -- and after that, his company would begin manufacturing Carl's product itself.

"I said, 'You'll be competing with me, then?,'" Carl recalls. "And he said, 'That's right. Take it or leave it.'"

NEXT: Persistence pays off

Email | Print | Share  |  RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all RSS FEEDS (close)
LAST UPDATE: Sep 09 2009 | 12:52 PM ET
More Galleries
5 startups that are reimagining the world Bricks that grow from microorganisms, household garbage turned into art, three-wheeled bike-cars -- these startups are redefining urban living. More
Blue collar entrepreneurs These five entrepreneurs took their blue collar experience and used it to launch innovative businesses. More
7 lifehacks to eliminate your holiday hassle Whether curating the perfect gift or finding a pet-sitter, these startups offer time-saving services that might just seem like holiday magic. More