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Being Walked On Equals Business Success: Grizzly Mats

Being Walked On Equals Business Success: Grizzly Mats

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Being Walked On Equals Business Success: Grizzly Mats

As teenagers, me and my brothers knew that whenever we arrived home, whatever refuse we may have accumulated outside our home was to be wiped off, so to speak, on the door mat before we entered.

Although our well-disciplined, military-trained dad was referring to any unacceptable behaviors we had engaged with friends in the neighborhood while away from home, this was an early lesson in the function of floor mats.

Patrick (Pat) Sullivan, owner and founder of Baltimore-based Grizzly Mats, magnified mine and my brothers understanding of the functionality of the floor mat to an entirely different level, launching his service in 2018 to provide the Maryland-Washington DC-Virginia region with an exceptional product, backed with superior service, that is something far more essential and practical than a bunch of mischievous kids could have imagined.

Mr. Sullivan described how his business outgrew the basement and overtook the garage before he was able to move into a suitable commercial facility. His professional background prior to establishing his company was sales, which he insists is a fundamental training ground for any aspiring entrepreneur, teaching them to insulate themselves from internalizing rejection and developing critical presentation, negotiation, and closing skills.

In his case, however, Pat chose a niche business that does not demand the level of selling skills he has acquired because his product is more vital than one might imagine at first thought, largely selling itself once its range of practical benefits is presented.

Patrick Sullivan’s mats are custom branded with his clients’ company logos which may be placed outside and inside commercial establishments as the initial welcome to visitors and prospective customers, leaving an indelible positive impression.

Grizzly Mats Doormat

Wilson Bryan Key’s popular and controversial 1974 book Subliminal Seduction describes the power of subtle messaging to influence consumers to make purchasing decisions without conscious deliberation.

Similarly, prospective customers entering the premises of a business, met at the door by their bold, colorful corporate brand symbol, feel personally welcomed and predisposed to purchase, which is why they came in the first place. Grizzly Mats selection also includes versions designed for specific commercial and industrial environments and purposes.

Pat recognizes the attributes of his various floor mat products as one less step in the sales process when consulting with his prospective clients because their practicality is readily apparent. He also recognized the scope of his market as another powerful opportunity to grow his business when he decided to launch. According to the U.S. Census, Pat’s focal market in the Baltimore-Washington DC-Virginia metroplex offers him more than 500,000 businesses and institutions as prospects.

Improving Grizzly Mats’ opportunities for profitability is the fact his mat sales are not one-time transactions with each new client. Pat’s staff of seven employees follows a regular schedule of rotating mats on clients’ premises for replacement with fresh mats and returning the used mats to their facility to be cleaned, reconditioned, and sanitized for replacement on the next scheduled rotation.

In the six years since Mr. Sullivan established Grizzly Mats, he has expanded offerings and services to his customers by providing a full array of dispensers, cleaning, hygiene, and paper products, while also offering thoughtful services like collecting and cleaning the client’s mops used to maintain the floors of their establishments.

Pat is also able to relax his fine-tuned selling acumen because his floor mats serve another essential function mandated by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the condition of floors in commercial establishments and the standards imposed to mitigate workplace hazards.

Grizzly Mats Floormat

According to a 2023 report by the National Floor Safety Institute, “falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits [annually], representing the leading cause of visits (21.3%). Slips and falls [in places of business] account for over 1 million [emergency room] visits or 12% of total falls [requiring hospitalization].”

When Pat shares these statistics with prospective clients, they will probably want to know where to sign. But wait, there’s more. A study released in August 2023 by Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that “18% of the 1,176,340 nonfatal work injuries resulting in days away from work in 2020 were related to slips, trips, and falls,” many of which occur when people enter buildings with wet shoes in inclement weather.

The CDC also reported this stunning statistic: “The average cost of a slip-and-fall accident [liable to the employer or business owner] is $30,000 to $40,000. These are for direct medical costs associated with hospital visits.” 

Added up, slips, trips, and falls cost more than $11 billion annually, plus millions of dollars more in lost productivity from the injured person and increased insurance premiums, making Pat Sullivan’s 2018 decision to leave full-time sales and pursue full-time entrepreneurship an astute business decision.

Although things have been falling into place for Mr. Sullivan that have incrementally strengthened and grown his business steadily, he does not rest on his laurels. Asked when he felt like his business had “made it,” Patrick responded: “I don’t allow myself to imagine that. I’m concerned that kind of thinking might breed complacency. I consistently reinvest in my business and I and my team report to work every day to prove and improve ourselves.”

Grizzly Mats StartUp Story

Sullivan feels like entrepreneurship was his destiny, that because his father was a business owner it was in his blood to gravitate toward becoming a businessman. For this reason, he surmises that some of his commercial decisions have been “instinctive,” that common sense and satisfying his customers were matter-of-fact motivations.

However, Pat didn’t want to just start a business; he wanted “to build something original,” and he has. Complementing the aptitude and temperament inherited from his father, which he has successfully applied in his entrepreneurial endeavors, Sullivan also credits his determination and competitiveness in business to his athletic development and discipline, which elevated him as a Division 1 soccer player.

Mr. Sullivan demonstrated his wherewithal as an astute businessman when he was tested during the COVID pandemic. With businesses temporarily shuttered throughout the country, floormats and ancillary services provided by Grizzly Mats lost most of their demand.

Like most determined, resourceful entrepreneurs during that uncertain time, Pat effectively pivoted, broadening his customer base by establishing a more robust web presence, positioning Grizzly Mats to emerge on the other side of the nation’s health crisis intact and in continued success mode, which has encouraged his ambitions to set his sights higher on national and global expansion.

The uniqueness of Patrick Sullivan’s business is also evident in his choice of names, Grizzly Mats. Not only are his mats Made in the USA, his choice of featuring a “bear” as his logo-mascot is a very savvy marketing decision considering the positive ‘subliminal’ association of bears as an iconic American symbol.

Smokey The Bear, Yogi Bear, and bear-shaped honey containers are all images associated with positivity and American pop culture. And let’s not forget that as a purveyor of mats, particularly welcome mats, Grizzly Mats conjures the imagery of that big plush bear rug by the fire we have all experienced over the years in movies and other popular media.

No, cozy bear skin rugs are not available among the 28 varieties of mats in Patrick Sullivans’ inventory, but the premium floor coverings he does offer, along with reliable, courteous service, will still make you feel warm and fuzzy doing business with Grizzly Mats.

Your Turn

Grizzly Mats emerged from humble beginnings in a basement to a thriving regional business. If you’re letting limited space or resources hold you back from starting your venture, challenge yourself to get creative and work with what you have. How could you launch your business idea on a shoestring budget?

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Being Walked On Equals Business Success: Grizzly Mats

Being Walked On Equals Business Success: Grizzly Mats

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