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SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT: KEEPING DELIVERIES SAFE WITH ARCHITECTURAL MAILBOXES
On the evening of their 10th wedding anniversary, Vanessa Troyer’s husband was rushing home from work. He wanted to be the first one home to intercept a package – a surprise gift for his wife. But when he arrived at the house, the gift was nowhere to be found.
Most people deal with stolen packages by complaining, or giving their neighbor’s a head’s up. Vanessa Troyer went a step further: she started a business.
Today, Vanessa’s company Architectural Mailboxes sells decorative mailboxes that keep packages safe while also adding curb appeal. What started as a reaction to a stolen anniversary gift has grown into a multi-million dollar business.
We caught up with Vanessa to learn more about how the business began and the role The Home Depot has played in the company’s journey.
Tell us about how Architectural Mailboxes got started. What led you to start designing mailboxes?
It was July of 1999 and we were about to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. My husband Chris had purchased a gift for me online and had it shipped to our home. He tracked the package and saw that it had been delivered shortly after 3 p.m. that day. He left his office before 5 p.m. to make sure he beat me home to intercept it before I arrived. Although he did beat me home that day, much to his surprise he discovered that the parcel had been stolen right off of our front porch.
What did your first design look like?
Our first creation was the Elephantrunk parcel drop. It was a secure box, enough to receive a desktop computer monitor (you know, the ones that were are big as the tube TV sets we all had in the 90s?). Shortly after the first Elephantrunk was produced the flat screen came out, making our design obsolete before it event hit the market.
Back then, there wasn’t any data on what people were buying online – we had no idea what our target size should be!
What did your first order at The Home Depot look like?
We started off slow, as a part of a special-order program at Home Depot. We worked alongside other mailbox manufacturers to showcase the best we had to offer at – our “showroom” line of products.
Tell us about your partnership with Home Depot.
Home Depot has been an amazing partner. There was a large learning curve for us in the beginning, but we got through it. Through the company’s Supplier Diversity program, I was able to attend the Minority Business Program at the Northwestern Kellogg School of Business. This was a six day “boot camp” for executives. It was one of the greatest experiences of my career.
We feel very blessed to have such a great team at Home Depot that we work with, and this starts from the store associate all the way up to the executives. I am always proud when I say we are a “partner” of Home Depot – that’s the word I use to describe the relationship, because I truly feel we’re on the same team.
Any advice for new small and diverse suppliers that are just starting out?
Find a mentor who already sells to The Home Depot. It took some time for me to understand and learn all the nuances that doing business with Home Depot entails. I suggest to anyone to lean on other suppliers, especially those in the Supplier Diversity program.
The other advice I have is that not to fall in love with your products. Some will be hits – others will fail. Be able to replace those that aren’t performing and be willing to listen and learn from these experiences. Remember to be flexible.
See how today’s Elephantrunk mailbox design works:
Click here to learn more about Architectural Mailboxes’s line of products.
Learn more abot Supplier Diversity at The Home Depot here.