YETI Coolers LLC

Brothers tout their ice chests' design and durability

When brothers Roy and Ryan Seiders co-founded YETI Coolers LLC in 2006 and opened a small office in Southwest Austin, they didn't anticipate the size of their customer base.

"When we got into the business, we were focused on sporting goods—hunting and fishing. That's what we knew," Roy said. "But we found out fairly quickly that coolers apply across all these different industries and markets."

Today, the company sells premium ice chests to hardware, farm and ranch stores, mom and pops, sporting goods retailers and specialty oil field supply stores. YETI finished 2011 with nearly $30 million in sales, Roy said. With 70 employees, YETI operates two East Austin warehouses and plans to expand, he added.

Roy and Ryan grew up in Driftwood. Watching their dad—a small-business owner—provide for his family inspired their endeavors, Roy said

Ryan owned a fishing rod business, and Roy had been around coolers as he built and sold premium fishing boats for the Texas Gulf Coast.

"You'd use them as a seat, and that lid would start caving in, and eventually the latches would break, the hinges would break." He realized if he wanted something better, others might, too.

Roy came up with the first YETI Cooler design, and they are made by manufacturing partners in the U.S. and overseas. Features include a hinge system that they claim doesn't break, a gasket that seals around the lid, thick walls and more insulation to keep ice cold longer, Roy said.

Whether customers are taking a YETI to work, hunt, fish or tailgate, they can justify the purchase because of the durability, Roy said.

The average YETI costs between $200 and $400, Ryan said, adding a 400-quart version costs about $1,300. YETI accessories and coolers in team colors are popular with college students, and the company can add custom corporate logos to coolers, Roy said.

YETI Coolers LLC, 3411 Hidalgo St., 394-9384, www.yeticoolers.com



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