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Small business stories: Triton Barn systems

How business sprouted on a rural Iowa farm and took root internationally

If you think the equine industry is just horsing around, take note. From recreation to showing, racing, and working, this industry generates a jaw-dropping $122 billion for the US economy and impacts 1.7 million jobs.

That’s not all. There are more than 2 million horse owners in the US alone. From Olympic equestrian sports to rodeos to casual rides, millions worldwide are captivated by the beauty and strength of these beloved animals.

Meet long-time Invoice2go subscriber Alisha Knight of Triton Barn Systems. Along with owner Curtis Gardner, she provides horse owners with high-quality, safe structures for their equine friends. This now-global company based in Iowa, specializes in hot-dip galvanized after fabrication horse stalls and equipment. They’ve earned a reputation across the US and abroad as the go-to company for quality horse stalls and barns.

We recently sat down with Alisha to talk about how Triton Barn Systems grew from a love of horses on a rural Iowa farm to an international business. Read on to learn how they’ve dealt with the ups and downs of small business over the years:

From an Iowa farm to an international business

“We now sell all over the world!”

Both Alisha and Curtis share a passion for the equestrian world. Curtis grew up on a farm surrounded by horses. Disappointed by low-quality barns and stalls, ten years ago he decided he could build higher-quality structures.

Soon, he was selling stalls and barns from his family farm. State fairs, regional horse shows, and racetracks started buying his products. It wasn’t long before there were opportunities to grow their market outside the local region.

In Alisha’s words, “That’s when [Curtis] grew up a little bit.” Due to its popularity, Triton Barn Systems expanded its operations and opened new shops in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Indiana.

“I got involved by accident 7 years ago,” Alisha explained. Alisha grew up riding and showing horses. She had recently graduated college with a degree in Equine Science and Technology and Ag Business when she stumbled across a Craigslist ad from Triton Barns.

It was a perfect fit – and she was quickly hired to help with sales. Alisha even discovered she had another horse-loving friend who already worked in the office.

Around the time of Alisha’s hiring, there was a boom in demand for high-end horse stalls. “That division is now really rocking and rolling. It’s probably our most lucrative side,” she explained.

Alisha has grown along with the demand and has helped the business serve its expanding customer base both in the US and internationally. Her passion for horses has been instrumental in helping Triton Barn Systems grow.

Triton Barn Systems’s Biggest Project Yet

“You meet some very cool people, and there’s a lot of diversity. The horse world is huge, but at the same time, so small. Everybody knows somebody.”

One of Alisha’s favorite things about working in the equine industry is that even though it’s enormous and incredibly diverse, it’s also closely connected. She explained, “I like the connections that you make in this job. You get to see a variety of barns and breeds of horses.”

She cites the quality relationships that Triton Barn Systems has built in their community as a central contributor to their success.

Currently, they’re working on a massive project in Ecuador. “It’s probably the largest project I’ve done since I’ve been with the company,” she explained.

They’re collaborating with an architect to construct an expansive private barn. The client is building a home with compacted mud and sand walls. Triton Barn Systems is taking on creating a custom mud barn and designing the windows, barn doors, and stalls. “There’s never a dull moment,” Alisha laughed.

A changing economic environment and dealing with COVID-19

“2020 has been a whole new ballgame.”

The road to success is never a straight line. Just like all small businesses, Triton Barn Systems have faced their share of ups and downs. Alisha explained that with fluctuations in the economy come shifts in steel and wood prices. Extreme weather like hurricanes can cause lumber prices to skyrocket. They’re continuously adapting based on these external events.

On top of this, with COVID-19, 2020 has been a challenging year. “It’s been very weird,” Alisha shared. The equine community has been hit hard. Like most in-person events, horse shows across the US have virtually all been canceled or postponed.

Still, the news hasn’t been all bad. While many projects have been called off or delayed, other customers – finding themselves at home more – have decided to upgrade their properties. “It’s been a double-edged sword for us,” Alisha shared. “But we’ve really had to make changes to adapt.”

Contributors to success during uncertain times

“It really helps when you have staff that aren’t just looking to collect a paycheck and then just got home at the end of the day.”

When asked about what’s contributed to their business’s success, Alisha cited passion and stable relationships. She explained they’ve established some ideal setups with vendors and have built out a team that’s genuinely passionate about their industry. “All of us put in some pretty good hours and go above and beyond, she said. “That passion makes a big difference.”

Triton Barn Systems has also used Invoice2go for the past eight years, and Alisha shared how it’s helped aid in their success. “It’s is extremely user friendly, and easy to train people on. It’s kind of dummy-proof,” she laughed.

The owner Curtis and other team members are often on the road visiting job sites. “I like that we can put it on our phones and iPads and take it anywhere,” she said. “That is a big thing.” They’re able to instantly create estimates that win more jobs and stay organized even when working on multiple larger projects.

She also appreciates how the app is continually getting better. “All the updates have been great,” she explained. “It’s continually becoming more and more helpful to us.”

An optimistic outlook for the future

“I think like any business we hope to continue to grow.”

When asked about the future of Triton Barns, Alisha expressed optimism. The equine market is expected to grow throughout the coming decade, and they’re ready to grow along with it. She acknowledges that there will always be ups and downs. Still, whether it’s a pandemic of extreme weather, they will persevere.

Alisha also wants to continually improve the benefits they offer their employees. “We’ve been working hard on making life easier for them,” she shared. By offering quality products and services, and treating their employees well, they hope to maintain they’re staying power for decades to come.

Invoice2go is proud to champion companies like Triton Barn Systems and empower them with straightforward tools to manage and grow their business. We’re excited to see them continue to thrive and can’t wait to see what they do next.

For more small business success stories, tips and tricks, and other free resources to help your business grow, check out our Facebook communities. We’re regularly sharing quality content aimed at helping your business grow. Join us!

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