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Small Businesses Get Creative; Take Advantage of Military Surplus

By | 03.16.12

Small Businesses Get Creative; Take Advantage of Military Surplus

A number of small businesses these days are cutting costs while fostering growth by capitalizing on available military surplus deals. Military surplus goods and materials have proven to be an excellent resource for entrepreneurs and established small business alike. These materials are not only very affordable compared to other sourcing options, but they tend to be of good quality and very versatile.

One small business owner, Andy Catsakis of Lovettsville, Virginia, started buying military surplus vehicles in 2002 and opened his small business, Winds Way Farms Mobile Service, in 2010. Already, the company generates $100K annually and its profitability is boosted by the heavy deals Catsakis has been able to score via military surplus auctions. He then restores these vehicles and turns around and sells them for a profit.

Henry Williams of Seven Stars Coffee Farm, based in Holualoa, Hawaii, has centered a large part of his business model on military surplus equipment. He uses military surplus pumps (circa 1968) to move rainwater on his coffee plantation, as well as surplus trucks, surplus generators, and various other equipment. He sees his reliance on military surplus as part of his green agenda, a way to run his plantation as “a true recycling operation.”

One particularly creative entrepreneur is Noah Figueroa of Gilcrest, Colorado. His $2M company, Paragon Bridge Works, buys military grade flatcars and transforms them into surplus bridges. He had originally used damaged railroad cars, but his discovery of the much cheaper surplus cars has been a real boon. To date, Paragon has installed 700 surplus bridges everywhere from Alaska to the Deep South.

Dana and Cheryl Collins of Idaho Falls, Idaho, run Army Surplus Warehouse, Inc., a $1M annual revenue business with 15 employees. As one of the largest army surplus stores in the country, they’ve established a 250K-square-foot brick and mortar site as well as an online division selling a wide range of military surplus items. One major key to their success have been items that they’ve procured and then been able to turn around and sell to collectors for a large profit.

References

Walsh, Kitt. “Cool Businesses Fueled by Military Surplus.” CNNMoney. 3/15/12. (3/16/12.) http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2012/smallbusiness/1203/gallery.military/?iid=SF_SB_LN.

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