The Top Seven:

Rick Butefish wanted to create a business that would benefit the local manufacturing industry.
He already owned a 10-year-old direct mail business, American Direct Mail Services, but he wanted to do something else, something that would profit the local economy and provide a service to Tulsans.
So he joined forces with OK Filter Company Inc., a Tulsa-based air filter manufacturer, and Green Bay Packaging Inc., which has a plant in Tulsa, to found delivers residential air filters to consumers’ front doors when they need them. They sign up by filling out a short form on the company’s Web site, declaring what size filters they need, how many and how often. Then, rather than go to a big box hardware store every three months to pick up new filters, the filters are delivered to their home when it’s time to change them. launched in March at the Greater Tulsa Home & Garden Show and has a couple hundred customers so far.
“What we found at the Home & Garden Show was that consumer education was going to be a really big part of our marketing strategy,” Rick Butefish, who is the company’s CEO, said. His son, R.J. Butefish, is the creative and technology director.
“People just don’t understand what type, why and how often they need to change their filters,” he continued. “They typically forget about it. We interviewed probably 400 to 500 homeowners at the Home & Garden Show, and there was this clear path to make things easier.” was already working with i2E on business plan development and decided to apply for the Spirit Award as well.
“Going through the (Spirit Award) process really helped cement who we want to be down the road,” Rick Butefish said. “It gave us the opportunity to do the research as to how big the market is and what we thought we could potentially grab in three years.”
The company’s three-year goal is to have revenues of $50 million.
He said a major part of what he’s learned through the Spirit Award competition is how to hone his message to consumers.
The coaches helped him define three potential consumer groups: those who favor convenience, those who have health issues or allergies and those who are concerned with environmental and energy issues. Rick Butefish said he’ll market his company differently to each of those groups.
Rick Butefish is rounding up investors to fund, and he’s confident that even if he doesn’t win the Spirit Award, he’ll have the $200,000 he needs in start-up capital and begin blitzing the market by the middle of this month.
He said he’ll market his business primarily to high-income cities south of Tulsa. The homes he’s aiming for are larger, using more filters, and because the weather is warm, they run the air conditioner more often, requiring more frequent filter changes.
As for the Spirit Award, Rick Butefish said, “We think that this process with Spirit Award has a lot more to it than just the financial award of the $30,000. It’s the prestige of winning, plus the community support. We want to be the poster child for future Spirit Award winners.”  

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