Eric Follmuth - November 2020 Entrepreneur of the Month
The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and North Iowa Area SBDC are proud to recognize Eric Follmuth of Splash Multisport in Mason City, IA as the November 2020 Entrepreneur of the Month.
When Splash Multisport was founded in 2005, Eric Follmuth was a swim coach involved in competitive swimming who had noticed that there was a need for more vendors at meets. Only one or two other groups existed, creating an opportunity for Eric to add another store in Iowa for athletes and their supporters to buy gear. Eric started Splash Multisport, using his coaching connections to expand into the market and supporting the swim community by giving back a percentage of the sales to the host club. Over the years as outsourcing became more expensive, Splash Multisport began to add more services and customizations for his sports team customers, including embroidery, silkscreening, and digital printing (decals, signage, vehicle signs, etc.). Although Splash’s origins were in competitive swimming, Eric found that when he picked up these services to take care of his existing customers, it naturally led to serving new customers in new areas like non-profits and colleges.
In 2015, Eric purchased and renovated Splash Multisport’s current location, a building in downtown Mason City. “There are things you just don’t get outside of a downtown location,” Eric says. “There’s nothing like the energy of being downtown, and the access you have to other locally owned businesses, your Chamber of Commerce, and festivals or events. There’s a positivity and an excitement.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses across the world, Eric has adapted his business to survive. With so many sports events canceled, much of his usual business came to a halt. The diversification of Splash’s services provided a path forward. Splash Multisport’s custom printing pivoted to vinyl graphics, stickers, signs, and banners. Splash has provided instruction posters for business and social distancing, special hours, and others due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eric’s customer-oriented approach to business emphasizes customization – from customizing the design to the ordering process, and now delivery options during COVID-19. “I think it’s important to be flexible and tailor the experience and the product to what your customers need,” Eric says.
Eric has worked with the NIACC Pappajohn Center & SBDC since 2011. Eric credits the Pappajohn Center and SBDC’s Financial Friday webinar series for helping Splash Multisport survive the economic impact of COVID-19. “There has been a lot of uncertainty and it’s been really amazing to have that hour where someone tells you ‘This is what we know, this is what you should do, and this is what the our local CPAs and bankers are recommending.’ I can’t put a value on that,” he says. Eric also worked with Brook Boehmler, Regional Director of the North Iowa SBDC, and Tim Putnam, Director of the Pappajohn Center, who reached out to make sure clients were aware of and taking advantage of all the resources available. “The level of attention and support we get working with the Pappajohn Center & SBDC has been a huge help,” Eric says.