Rick Ryder and Brad Abney were Denver-area law-enforcement officers nearing retirement when they started talking about their business idea in 2011. Ryder had experience running a law enforcement-equipment store and thought there had to be a better way to do it.
The men wanted to offer outstanding customer service, convenience, and low prices to their fellow officers. They wrote a 40-page business plan and spent three months doing market analysis to determine the best place to open their store.
Focusing on the southwest metro area of the Denver region, they learned they could position themselves at the center of three counties and eight municipalities — and 20 miles away from the closest competing law enforcement-equipment vendor.
“We don’t just talk about the products we sell — these are products that we have used and field tested,” Abney says.
Ryders Public Safety opened to the public in 2012.
Over the years, Ryders has has been been offered a buyout — which the company turned down — and has added products to serve guards working in the marijuana industry.
The business broke even in late 2015, and Brad’s wife, Gail, has joined the ownership team. Ryders plans to focus on ecommerce growth in coming years, and increase social-media marketing efforts.
“Jack has our sincere gratitude for the advice and counsel he has provided us throughout the course of our business,” Abney says.
“We had never heard of the program,” Abney admits when he recalls hearing about SCORE from a family friend. “But we wanted as much input on the pitfalls we might face prior to executing our business plan.” Abney and Ryder teamed up with volunteer mentor Jack Scott.
“If we came upon a problem we were not familiar with or if the principals of the company could not agree on a path we would set up a meeting with Jack,” Abney says. “Within an hour’s time we would have talked out all the possibilities and set on an agreed direction.”
“He never told us what to do, but gave us direction on where to find the answers we were looking for so we could make our own informed decisions,” Abney says. “Jack continues to be a valuable and trusted source for our business.”
The Ryders team met frequently with Scott in the first two years of business. “Now that we have been stable and growing for five years, we reach out to him annually to give him an update on our progress, and we consult with him as needed,” Abney says.