Wheaton family learns basics of being a small business
Wheaton resident Bill Zeuch, a chief operating officer for a consumer electronics company in Chicago, wanted to teach his three children on how businesses run.
What started as a life lesson has turned into a lucrative business called Album Mount/Comic Mount consisting of plastic devices that allow you to mount a vinyl album cover or comic book to a wall without a frame. They are sold on eBay and Amazon as well as their company websites: Comicmount.com and albummount.com.
"We come from humble backgrounds, my wife (Janice) and I, and our children are living a good life," he said. "But we wanted to teach them more about life and business and how to get that fire in their bellies."
In 2014, the idea for the mounts started when Bill and Janice wanted an artistic way to hang some colorful comic books on the wall. They felt they had a good idea for a plastic mount that was barely seen and allowed more of the comic to show on the wall without a frame. They felt they had a good idea and decided to build a business around the mount.
Bill withdrew about $44,000 from his children's college funds to start the business. He used the money to hire a lawyer to properly set up the company, hire a graphic artist and a website maintenance firm. He then bought the materials and had the product made by a company in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The mount began selling online for $5.99.
His wife Janice of 22 years, son Nathan, 17, daughters Gretchen, 15, and Lauren, 8, all pitched in with various tasks, from taking and fulfilling orders to packaging and shipping products to consumers.
Nathan, who has been starting to apply to colleges, has been using the experience as part of an essay submitted with his college applications. He's seeking to earn a bachelor's degree in business, Bill said.
Janice, who has her own business as a water color artist specializing in portraits of homes, oversees the children at home, while Bill goes to his regular full-time job during the day. They've all enjoyed working on the business and have been discussing ideas for new products.
The first full year of sales were $150,000 and even more is expected for this second year.
Since opening nearly two years ago, the home-based business has sold about 66,000 mounts, Bill said.
They also quickly paid back the children's college funds in full.
"I was teaching the kids that a successful company could pay off its debt in two to three years, and we did in less time, so we believe we have something here," he said.
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