Excel Tire Gauge

Although many may believe the local Rhode Island economy is in dire straits, there are some gems out there that are growing at rates that are impressive – even in good times.

Excel Tire Gauge is one of those gems, located right in our own backyard in Warwick, Rhode Island. If you have ever visited a Gulf or Cumberland Farms gas station and have put air in your tires – chances are you have used an air tower manufactured by Excel. Through years of R&D and good old fashioned hard work, Excel has developed a technology that digitally inflates or deflates a tire to a level of accuracy and precision that is unmatched in the industry. As a result, Excel has risen to the top of the air inflation industry by supplying the likes of giant names such as Costco, Discount Tire, Shell, Cumberland Farms,
and Gulf Oil.

What started out as an idea between two friends to bring a new technology, developed in Brazil, to the US market has turned into an established business consisting of a team of 25 employees. “While it didn’t happen overnight, we have become the industry leader for digitally calibrated air machines” says Jay Nelson, CEO of Excel Tire Gauge.

Marrying cutting-edge design with state-of-the-art technology It’s common for entrepreneurs and business owners to initially write their ideas on the back of a napkin, but the actual execution of the idea and its success requires resilience, hard work and a vision. “We saw an opportunity in the marketplace and realized we could fulfill a real customer need with a product that
incorporated state-of-the-art technology with a cutting-edge user-friendly design. Our products provide the consumer with a simple solution to what was formerly an awkward process of filling your tires with the traditional tire gauge”, says Nelson explaining why they went into business in the first place. Nelson explains that it takes passion to create confidence in a potential customer that might consider your new product or service ‘risky or foreign’. “When a product or service is new to your customer or an end-user, it can be difficult to convince them to forget what they’ve known or have been using for so long and to convince them to use your product.” says Nelson. Excel’s digital air machines have chipped away at this mindset by marrying high-tech functionality with a user-friendly head interface.

As any entrepreneur can relate to the expression ‘to wear many hats’, Nelson describes how during the formative startup years he took on the role of marketer, technician and traveling salesman all at once. He says it was hard work being on the road for almost half the year, going to trade shows, talking to potential customers, learning what the end users would want to see in the product, and building business relationships. Now that the foundation of the company has been built, his role has since shifted from the ‘Chief Everything Officer” to its current focus on managing the organization, setting strategy and direction, and making sure to stay close to his loyal customer base. Nelson says, “Looking back on the first years of business, it’s hard to believe that we have now sold over fifty thousand machines worldwide and have industry giants like Cumberland Farms and Costco as our customers – it’s proof that good things can and do happen to start-ups like us.”

Playing its part to help the local economy To start and succeed at a business may seem like an impossible task, “it is a rewarding experience to know that you are helping the local economy by creating jobs and employing local people” Nelson says. “Treating people right and providing a product at a fair price is essential to our success and is

really something that we pride ourselves on.” Success and growth drives many businesses forward, Roger Audette, Director of Sales says, “keeping the momentum that we have built up over the years is essential. It’s really exciting to play a role in the growth we have experienced and to watch a company grow right in front of your eyes – especially when you see all of the opportunity that we’ve yet to tap.”

Even though Excel sells its digital air towers nationwide, it is important to note that their success has had a positive effect on Rhode Island’s business community through its local network of employees, business partners, and customers. The Excel team continues to focus on growing the business and expanding its business network with Jay now setting his sights on breaking into the tire and auto rental industries. We have a hunch that somehow Jay and the Excel team will climb those mountaintops in the near future as well!

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