25 Fantastic Companies Started in a Garage
What can you make in your garage? With some supplies and creativity, just about anything.
Not only that, but you can also possibly sell what you create and make a business out of it.
Need some inspiration? These 25 companies all began out of their founder’s garage, growing along the way to the reputable names they are today.
Medtronic produces medical devices meant to aid in therapy. Some of these devices include stent grafts, pacemakers, neurostimulators, heart monitors and catheters.
Palmer Hermundslie and Earl Bakken first had the idea for the company back in 1949. The brothers-in-law lived in Minnesota and started developing medical devices from their garage. The company eventually expanded throughout the Midwest and continued to grow to the global company it is today.
4 Rivers Smokehouse
Down in Winter Park, Florida, 4 Rivers Smokehouse is a prominent barbeque restaurant that caters weddings, corporate events, parties and more. However, it wasn’t always this way. When namesake John Rivers first made the succulent fare that is 4 Rivers’ signature, he had little more than some space in his garage. After the locals of Winter Park tasted his food at a charity barbeque, 4 Rivers was destined to grow.
Salt of the Earth
Woods Cross, Utah, is home to Salt of the Earth, a spa that primarily uses salt to refresh clients’ complexions. Back in 1998, founder Paul Heslop began mixing salt in his garage to make the spa products the company sells today. Sourced from the Great Salt Lake, Salt of the Earth sells thermal clay, mineral mud, essential oils, scrubs, mineral creams and body washes.
The Commons Brewery
Homebrewers throughout the country have kegs chilling in their garages right now. Garage homebrewing is how The Commons Brewery in Portland, Oregon, began. Founder Mike Wright called his nanobrewery Beetje Brewery then. Since then, he’s grown both the size of his equipment and his workspace.
Whittle Shortline Railroad Toy Trains
A family business, Whittle Shortline Railroad Toy Trains was founded by a father and son in a Kirkwood, Missouri, garage in the 1990s. The family was always great with wood, and the homemade trains captivated relatives. The household garage became a workshop for the development of these toy trains, which look like North American locomotives of yore.
A Rapid City, South Dakota, restaurant mostly known for its pizza and Italian food, Stonewalls Kitchen was founded by Carrie and Jim DeForrest. The two had already created their own coffee brand, Black Hills Coffee Company, so it wasn’t too far-fetched to start a restaurant. They tinkered with coffee and food recipes in their garage for years before moving to an empty building in Rapid City that eventually became Stonewalls.
Engelbrecht Grills & Cookers
The 2000 Series Stahlkammer, the 1000 Series Braten and the Braten Campfire are just some of the many grills in the Engelbrecht Grills & Cookers arsenal. However, the company has humble beginnings. The craftsmen had only an eight-foot ceiling and a 20-foot space to start assembling what would become their bestselling grills. All parts of the grills are handmade by a team of welders, woodworkers and metal fabricators.
Boston Lobster Feast
An Orlando buffet staple since 1991, the Boston Lobster Feast boasts more than 60 dishes to indulge in. Jeff Hazell started cooking seafood in his Marblehead, Massachusetts, home. Lobster fishing was in his family, so it wasn’t a stretch once he started cooking the crustaceans in his garage. He made the jump from Massachusetts to Florida once he noticed the state was seriously lacking in succulent Maine lobster.
La Boit Specialty Vehicles
La Boit Specialty Vehicles make cars, vans, trucks and more for mobile command centers, mobile pet adoption clinics, mobile veterinarians, mobile dentists, bloodmobiles and mobile medical clinics. Gil Blais had held a job in pharmaceuticals, where he often worked with medical professionals who could have used vehicles like his. He made the first La Boit vehicle in his garage. That handmade vehicle springboarded Blais into his new career as an entrepreneur.
Fulton Beer began selling its brews to Minnesotans in 2009, when it was contract brewing with a company out of Wisconsin and from a garage in Minneapolis. Today, the company has two area breweries of its own
Ivan Skybyk and Guillaume Rolland are the creators of the Sensorwake, a type of alarm clock that uses scent and sound to wake people slowly and fully instead of jarringly and groggily.
This innovation was developed at Guillaume’s home in the west of France. In 2015, he and Skybyk had completed their first Sensorwake after toiling in the garage. The clock then went to Kickstarter, where Skybyk and Guillaume received enough funding for mass production.
Master Machine Rebuilders, Inc.
Since 1982, Marlene and Rod Klose at Master Machine Rebuilders, Inc. have taken devices people no longer want and given them new life. The two work out of New Bremen, Ohio, and did a lot of rebuilding early on from the family garage. Eventually, they moved to the 10,000-square foot Bunker Hill Industrial Park, and have recently expanded the building even further.
Line 7 Marine
A New Zealand company founded in 1963, Line 7 Marine produces specialized clothing for athletes and sailors. The company has outfitted Olympians, athletes from the Round the World Yacht Races, America’s Cup contestants and more. As renowned as the company is, it began in a West Auckland garage. As demand for quality sailing gear grew over the decades, so did Line 7.
SCRAM Systems makes both location monitoring and alcohol monitoring devices. One of the company’s biggest products is the SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) system. An engineer made the first prototypes of the SCRAM CAM in the late 1980s in a garage, and the product is still a big seller to this day.
Wilbur Curtis Co.
The eponymous Wilbur Curtis always had big ideas. Living in Los Angeles in the 1940s, he decided to improve the average cup of coffee by altering the way the drink is made. Hence, his specialty coffee equipment was born. From Curtis’ garage to the world, the Curtis family sells brewers, hot water dispensers, filters, pots, brewing baskets and more.
True to the maker movement’s ethos, Apertus promotes the idea of open-source cinema, and its company caters to (and was built by) “film-makers who were fed up with the expensive and limited tools they had to work with every day. The desire to have a camera without limitations that is tailored exactly to film-makers own needs sparked the birth of Apertus.”
This nonprofit company is responsible for several cameras, including the AXIOM Beta, which the founders developed over many tireless weeks and months spent in a garage.
Ignacio Garcia and his team in Spain founded Recreus, a 3D printing company. Garcia was always interested in 3D printing since the technology’s inception, and he started doing his own printing in 2010. That served as the impetus to start his own company, which he founded in his garage. The company sells filaments, 3D printers and even has 3D models available for free.
In Germany, Vogt Plastic has made polyolefin resin, polystyrene resin, polypropylene resin, polyethylene resin and other plastics since 1978. Josef Vogt ran the whole company himself for some time, starting the plastic production process with the limited garage space he had available. Vogt Plastic is environmentally friendly and recycles whenever possible.
Stefan Aftanas, the namesake of Aftanas Surfboards in Tofino, British Columbia, has always been passionate about making surfboards by hand. At first, he did so in his garage, making first hundreds then thousands of boards. Naturally, as Aftanas Surfboards gained more momentum, the company had to move to a bigger space. Aftanas himself still makes his boards by hand but also uses a shaping machine to speed up the process.
Finn Hill Winery
When it comes to aging wine, some people have a cellar, and others have even more space. Not Rob Entrekin at Finn Hill Winery. For a while, the Woodinville, Washington, winery operated out of a small garage. Eventually, the wine became so popular that storing the 1,000 cases Finn Hill produces each year in the garage was no longer feasible.
Agnes & Dora
Buffy Brandley founded clothing company Agnes & Dora is based in her Provo, Utah, garage in 2013. The company sells the clothes it makes via a nationwide network of independent sales reps, and that model has allowed Brandley to grow Agnes & Dora steadily these last few years.
With apparel for triathlons and cycling, Louis Garneau is a renowned biking brand. The company also sells bicycles. In the early days, Garneau worked in the family garage to develop the clothing that would make his brand a big seller. The company became official in 1983 and relocated to a production warehouse just a year later.
Comp-Tac, which specializes in gun holsters, was founded in 2000 by Gregg Garrett. His first holster ideas came to light in his garage, with the company eventually growing to include its own leather shop, shipping department, customer service department, production line and drafting room. The company’s holsters have “92,000 possible variations to accommodate your lifestyle and needs.”
Drew Short is the creator of Rock-n Woodshop, a one-man woodworking company based out of Moore, Oklahoma. Short did much of his business in his garage at the beginning, eventually upgrading his space to a two-car garage. What Short sells is always changing, but some of his goods include wooden games, storage cabinets and toy boxes.
Satoshi Sugie, Muneaki Fukuoka, and Junpei Naito were disconcerted when they spoke to a wheelchair-bound friend and discovered he still had difficulty with basic tasks and traveling small distances. In response, the team decided to create their own wheelchair that’s “minimalistic, functional and stylish.”
Working in Japan and San Francisco, the founders started WHILL. The company’s first wheelchair debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2011, a platform that opened up funding for more wheelchairs, including the Model M.