Entrepreneur launches product with help from RCBI
For years, Dr. Greg Crews attempted to make a better feed bucket for horses. He found the help he needed to bring his concept to life at the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI). Less than two years later, his buckets are being sold across the country, and he’s making plans to expand his product line.
“This would not have been possible without RCBI,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for greater people to work with, no doubt.”
Crews, a Huntington dentist, is a long-time horse owner himself. He was frustrated by buckets that wouldn’t stay affixed to the fence and were often left broken on the ground. He was purchasing replacements two or three times a year.
Crews began working with RCBI in March 2016, when he pitched his idea to RCBI staff members. He received early-stage funding assistance from RCBI that allowed him to work with RCBI Engineer Ron Cabacar on designs for his bucket. Together they developed two prototypes that were produced on a Fortus 3D printer at RCBI. Crews took those prototypes to a horse show in Louisville, Ky., and showed them to other horse owners. Their input helped Crews decide which design to put into production.
PTI Inc., a Point Pleasant company, is producing the buckets, which are made of high-density polyethylene that resists cracking and is weather resistant. The buckets are designed to easily lock onto any type of fencing. Sold through feed stores and online, the buckets are in use on farms as far away as Alaska, Texas and Washington.
“They are extremely strong and durable,” he said. “It’s the best feed bucket in the world. It’s more expensive but well worth it.”
Crews runs his company, Lock-N-Load Feed Systems, with his son-in-law, Nathan Davenport.
They were recently among the first group of entrepreneurs to participate in RCBI’s TEN50 – West Virginia’s Business Accelerator. TEN50 is affiliated with the Global Accelerator Network (GAN), and Crews plans to continue to draw on the global resources of GAN now that his time with TEN50 is complete.
“TEN50 is a fabulous program,” he said. “It offers all kinds of expertise, all kinds of support.”
Crews already is making plans to grow Lock-N-Load by expanding his product line to include buckets for small livestock. He wants Lock-N-Load to be a name that is easily recognizable.
“I want to be branded,” he said. “I don’t want just one bucket. I want a line of products.”
For information about RCBI’s early-stage funding opportunities, go to www.rcbi.org/online/funding.