StepNpull isn’t just a product or a company. It’s an example of what can happen when three entrepreneurs combine ingenuity, teamwork, patience, and a desire to solve problems. The company officially launched in 2007, but can trace its roots to the early 1990s when Mike Sewell, Ron Ely and Kelly Coddington became co-workers at a telecommunications company. The trio became good friends and often talked about going into business together.
The opportunity presented itself while Mike was a facilities director. He noticed employees opening the door handle with paper towels to avoid touching the handle. Many would litter the floor with the used towels. Mike determined a foot-operated door opener would eliminate both problems: no spreading germs through touching the door and no paper towel waste. He enlisted Kelly to design and fabricate the first prototype. Ron’s construction experience helped them determine where to place the device on a door. Ron also created the name: StepNpull.
For the first several years, StepNpull was a nice side business for the three owners. They took orders by phone and manufactured and shipped the foot-operated door openers from a garage. The company expanded with purchases from major corporations like Boeing, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Google, and Walmart. Lowe’s, Amazon and other retailers started selling the device. Next came international expansion with distribution partners established in The United Kingdom, Slovenia, Australia, Hong Kong, and South Africa.
One of the long-term impacts of the pandemic is a newfound emphasis on minimizing the spread of germs. Businesses and organizations around the world sought ways to protect their customers and employees. Many have turned to the StepNpull hands-free door opener as a way to protect the public from spreading germs by touching the same door handles.
Business exploded in 2020 as a result. The company’s patented device gained national and international media coverage. Orders flooded in from around the world. In just one month — March 2020 — the company sold more StepNpull door openers than they had previously in their history. This required additional employees at its Springfield, Missouri headquarters as well as more international distributors and manufacturing capacity.