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Start Your Business Success Stories

Small Business Snapshot: 50 Strong

Small Business Snapshot: 50 Strong Credit: 50 Strong

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Ashley Thompson, CEO of 50 Strong, explains how this image represents her business.

50 Strong is a second generation, family-owned company that has been manufacturing products in the USA for 35 years. Our mission is to make our country stronger by making products here in America. 

My father, Randy Carter, started PTC, a plastics company in 1982 in Lima, Ohio. Born and raised from a family of entrepreneurs, we were frustrated seeing store shelves filled with products made overseas. We wanted to change that, so my husband Brendan and I created 50 Strong where every single one of our products is 100 percent Made in America.

At 50 Strong, we produce an innovative, high-quality line of water bottles called Simply Better Bottles designed for every drinking personality, lifestyle and activity. Available in assorted bright, fashion-forward hues and patterns with mix 'n' match parts, and flexible lanyards for easy carrying, and affordably priced at under $13 each.

We currently employ 100 people and manufactured more than 3 million water bottles at our factory in 2016 alone. Originally, our product portfolio began with a line of bike accessories, which are currently available at more than 3,000 Walmart stores across the country, and have been producing our Simply Better Bottles since 2015.

Earlier this year, 50 Strong was awarded a contract from Walmart to produce five million water bottles at our factory – a job that had previously been manufactured by a Chinese competitor. This latest contract is a testament to our successful American manufacturing operation, proving that high-quality, innovative products can be made in the U.S. and done so at affordable prices. The photo, which includes (left to right) Walmart Regional General Manager Jason Leisenring as well as my father, Randy Carter, and myself, shows us at our factory in Lima celebrating the launch of our collaboration with Walmart and shared commitment to U.S. manufacturing and Made in America products.

One challenge that we're addressing and embracing is developing a skilled workforce for the future of manufacturing. With this in mind, we started the 50 Strong Foundation, a non-profit that awards scholarships to workers pursuing careers in manufacturing and adding skilled workers to the industry. Our foundation aims to educate students and teachers on career opportunities available in manufacturing as well as empower manufacturing workers to gain further knowledge and training to better their workplace and career paths, while inspiring others to help change America through manufacturing. Ten percent of profits from all 50 Strong products are donated to the Foundation, and we've awarded five scholarships to date so far.

From our family to yours, thanks for buying American ... thanks for being 50 Strong!

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Fallon.