Source: The Business News
Print Date: November 6, 2023
Title: TraceMySpace helps others get organized
A mere 45 minutes separated two guys who grew up in small western Wisconsin towns. Now, these two guys, Cody Spears, born and raised in Viroqua, and Chad Wehrs, born and raised in Bangor, co-own TraceMySpace, a custom foam tool insert (for drawers) business that has been based in Wehrs’ hometown for two years now.
“In 2021, when I was negotiating with the owner of the California-based company that owned the business, I approached Chad about purchasing it as a partner,” Spears said. “Through previous business interactions, I knew his vast experience in the manufacturing industry and connections in the racing industry were a great fit for a partnership.”
As Spears is always on the lookout for businesses for sale, which is how he found this one, he saw the potential in the product and asked the company to sell the business to them. The company was reluctant at first. However, the duo was eventually successful as the company contacted them a few months later with an offer they didn’t refuse.
Being from Bangor and graduating from Onalaska Lutheran High School in 1995, Wehrs, who oversees the manufacturing side of the business, provides the local roots and connections to the partnership. After they purchased the business, they moved all manufacturing to Bangor, where Wehrs already had space running his several businesses, such as Wehrs Machine and Racing Products and other racing, hunting and outdoor businesses. He also is part owner of Wyatt Bicycles, a designer and manufacturer of high-end mountain and fat tire bicycles.
All the manufacturing takes place at the Wehrs Machine and Racing Products headquarters, which originally housed Wehrs Chevrolet, owned by Wehrs’ dad, Larry.
Larry built it in 1978 to replace the original home to Wehrs Chevrolet started by Larry’s dad and uncle in 1935.
While Wehrs was attending classes at Western Wisconsin Technical College, Larry told him he could start his own business in the original Wehrs Chevrolet building (next door), which by then was old and rundown, if he cleaned it up. He did just that, and he opened his first business out of there in 1997 after he received his degree in machine tool from the technical college.
“Chad has been a problem solver in the racing industry for the last 26 years by manufacturing custom racing parts and expanding Wehrs Machine and Racing Products,” Spears said.
To keep the business within the family as his family did before him at the dealership, Wehrs’ wife, Brenda, works at Wehrs Machine and Racing Products as well as and his sons, Mason, 15, and Camden, 12, who work there in the summers.
Being a problem solver himself and drawing upon his own experiences, Spears, the director of operations, has vast experience in real estate, law enforcement and ownership in other businesses including experience in startups and buying and selling businesses.
Outside of TraceMySpace, he has been a realtor since 2013 and been in law enforcement since 2009, where he is a Lieutenant in Holmen’s police department. After graduating from Viroqua High School in 2005, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in business administration and emphasis in forensic investigations from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2009. He then received a master’s degree in public safety executive leadership from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota in 2019.
Since the purchase of the company in 2021, Spears and Wehrs have increased sales revenue by more than eight times more than what the California-based company was making.
“This was done by streamlining the production process and strategic marketing and website SEO,” Spears said.
They also bought a more efficient laser that cuts foam sheets as large as 8 feet by 4 feet in a precise manner.
“We are a very unique company with a very unique product,” Spears said. “We allow customers to simply send us a picture of tools laid out in their tool drawer, and we custom make a scaled and precise fit, foam tool insert from a simple picture.”
Since the products are custom-made and require a detailed process to complete, it bodes well for worldwide customers and the online sales model. They initially believed most of their customers would be from the automotive and racing industry, but they discovered quickly most of the purchasers came from the aerospace industry and manufacturing or factory settings.
“Our inserts help prevent foreign object debris (FOD) in the aerospace industry,” Spears said, “and help those in manufacturing and factory setting implement tool control and 5S implementation.”
Spears and Wehrs are also always looking for ways to partner with other local businesses and organizations. They recently collaborated with Trane Technologies in La Crosse to design custom inserts for them.
“It was a cool experience,” Spears said, “as I was able to hand deliver their order and get a tour of some of their manufacturing facilities.”
He said they hope to expand that working relationship in the future. TraceMySpace also sponsors race-car drivers who race at their local racetracks as well as racetracks around the country. In addition, the two believe it’s important to provide something for the next generation, and they will be expanding their sponsorships to include local youth sports.
For now, the self-diagnosed “workaholics” will continue to add to and improve upon their products and services, hoping to offer new products soon on their website and Amazon.com.
Recently, their custom tool insert product was a nominee for the annual Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin contest.
“Our product seemed like a good fit for the competition given the uniqueness of it, the problem it solves, and the well-known, large companies we have done business with,” Spears said. “It’s pretty cool to see a small, local business provide a product to some of the biggest companies in the world, including SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Tesla, 3M and the US Department of Defense.”
Somehow, both Spears and Wehrs still find time for their families, which includes Spears’ supportive wife, and quality control coordinator of TraceMySpace, Haley, and their three-month-old son, Cameron.
Source: The Business News
Six products made in Westcentral Wisconsin are on the list for the eighth annual Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin contest sponsored by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and Johnson Financial Group.
Source: La Crosse Tribune
Print Date: September 18, 2022
Section: Local Business Openings and Developments
Author: Steve Calahan
Cody Spears and Chad Wehrs purchased TraceMySpace in August 2021 and recently moved manufacturing operations from California to the Wehrs Machine and Racing Products building at N4477 Wisconsin 162 in Bangor.
Wehrs also owns the latter business, which manufactures aftermarket automobile racing products such as suspension components, accessories, engine parts and tools.
TraceMySpace manufactures custom foam inserts for tool drawers, cases and other things, to hold tools and equipment in their place. Spears is its Director of Operations and co-owner.
Sales are now five times larger than they were before Spears and Wehrs bought the business, Spears said. Some of its customers in the past year have included Amazon, Google and the U.S. Department of Defense.