Toe River Embroidery
Neil Ruesch — owner of Toe River Embroidery in Spruce Pine — had always wanted his own business in the mountains of North Carolina. In 1990, while working for a manufacturer of pipe organs, Neil delivered and installed an organ to a church in Morganton and fell in love with the mountains. He was determined to return and start his own business. In 1996 he moved to Charlotte and purchased a business that specialized in cleaning up construction sites. He then sold that business and moved to Asheville in 2000, hoping to purchase another business. But Neil decided to start his own business, and that was the beginning of Toe River Embroidery in September of 2001.
Looking to sound out his ideas, Neil came to SCORE in mid 2002 and met with Ron Schmid. This consultation led to the development of a marketing plan complete with action items and due dates. Toe River Embroidery’s primary business sectors include tourist destination gift shops that often have a theme for an attraction, fire departments, school athletic programs, zoos, small businesses, and construction and contracting companies desiring quality shirts with embroidered logos.
Neil’s first major investment was an expensive 12 head embroidery machine. He created the embroidery designs on his computer then input the designs into the machine. Neil now plans to upgrade this seven-year-old machine to a more modern ersion with independently controlled heads. Within the past year and a half, Neil has expanded his business, adding two sales representatives in Charlotte and Spruce Pine to cover western North Carolina. These two individuals brought skill sets and insights into the selling arena that have resulted in orders for more upscale embroidered products — such as jackets, hooded sweatshirts, blouses, and golf shirts — and increased business more than twofold over the past year.
Neil has just purchased a high-end garment printer and plans to add printed products in addition to embroidery to satisfy a market for slightly less expensive printed garments. With this addition, Neil expects business to double again over the next year.
In November of 2003, Neil returned to SCORE and worked with Bob Bond who helped him expand his marketing plan and improve his presentation and selling skills. He continues as Bob’s client until the present time. Ultimately this marketing plan was refined and expanded into a Business Plan that Neil updates several times a year.Neil says that over the past six years, SCORE counselors have provided him with numerous opportunities to share his ideas and receive constructive comments in return. He indicates how important it is to develop, utilize and continually update a business plan, even if the plan is only for his own use.
Phone: (828) 766-6030