Garage jobs: Valley entrepreneurs share secrets to success

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Lon Myers knows a thing or two about starting a successful business in his garage. He has done it twice.

“I never wanted to be an employee if I could avoid it, so I started in my garage after I came to Phoenix in 1961," he said.

Myers launched his own clothing business, starting with one employee and one sewing machine in his garage.

“And I built the business up to where I was doing close to $10 million a year,“ he told 3TV.

His first secret? Filling a need.

“I realized there was a need in the specialty store market," he said.

That same secret has now worked for his second business, Lonz Great American Shaving Secret.

“I determined that I was sick and tired of paying outrageous prices for razor blades," he said.

So Myers did some experimenting with a cosmetic base and found he could save himself and others money by stopping the cause of dull blades.

“The blade oxidizes. That's what metal does. That's what dulls the blade. Shaving has just about nothing to do with it," he explained.

Myers says he can get one blade to last six months or more.

Across town in Chandler, Mark Dill was also looking to fill a need.

“With 3-D printers becoming so popular nowadays and myself being an avid user, the only thing that hasn't come down with 3-D printers in the last five years or so is the cost of the filament,” Dill said.

Starting on a pool table in his living room, then working in his garage, Dill came up with the Extrusion Bot, which lets people make their own 3-D printer filament.

Like Myers, Dill found that sometimes you start where you can afford.

“So it made sense to start in the garage, where I could keep costs at a minimum and make sure I could pay my employees as well as myself,” he said.

The next secret both men share is getting yourself seen.

"You can't be plate-glass shy, as they say. You've got to go where you think you can do some business,” said Myers, who sells at farmers' markets, Luke Air Force Base and specialty stores.

For Dill, it was going online to Kickstarter.

“I was able to actually put my idea out there in front of potential customers and see if this was a good idea people would be interested in or just a good idea I had myself and no one else was interested in," he said.

And both say you have to have realistic expectations as well.

“It is definitely a pay cut; I can tell you that,” Dill said.

Myers added, “You've got to have the stomach for it because you are going to have a lot more failures than successes.”

Dill said that means, “You definitely have to have a belief and continued belief. It is ongoing. When the frustrations and the challenges are there, you have to keep pushing through them.“

But the payoff is moving out of the garage and into a new facility, where you can "chart your own destiny, your own initiatives," Dill said.

"Sometimes, you don't make a lot of money, but you make more than most people and you are just happy doing it," Myers said.

Both men also say you need to keep innovating, coming up with new ideas and new ways to market yourself.

And both say even though there is sometimes a lot of chaos and uncertainty, they would not trade their work for any other type of job.