Monday, November 5, 2012

Homer Soda Company Has a Legacy to Live Up To.

Kate Boyer (of Homer Soda Company) comes from a long line of entrepreneurs

Kate Boyer has only known life as a part of a motorcycle entrepreneurial family.  Starting with her great-grandparents, her entire family has been motorcycle enthusiasts for more than 100 years.  Her grandfather, Clyde "Bud" Vetter, was the first one to be an entrepreneur.  He opened a Schwinn bicycle shop in Rantoul, and later opened Champaign Cycle, on Mattis Ave in Champaign.  Her uncle, Craig Vetter, founded the Vetter Fairing Company in Rantoul.  He began with an idea to produce quality fairings for motorcycles.  He started making a few in an old meat locker building in Rantoul.  The business grew exponentially and he built it to be a large facility on the east edge of Rantoul.  
Her father, Bruce Vetter, started a little different in 1967 while living "in a van down by the river".  He painted peace symbols on rocks and sold them to the college kids in Champaign.  It was very successful and he moved into a building in downtown Champaign, making artistic leather goods with his hands.  In the late 1970's, Bruce decided to go bigger and started "Bagman", making motorcycle luggage.  His factory on north Prospect was very successful and provided jobs for 80 employees.  He sold the business in 1983 to Bell Helmets in Rantoul, intending to retire, but 3 years later Harley-Davidson asked if he could design and produce a saddle bag to go on a style of bike as it came off the assembly line.  25 years later, we are still producing products for Harley-Davidson in our small factory with about 10 employees in Homer.  
Rob Boyer, Kate's husband, has been running the facility for the last 14 years.  He has grown the company significantly since he first began.  Bruce now spends his time producing the artistic products that first propelled him into business.
Kate has done almost every job over the years.  She started with shipping/receiving when she was 13, payroll when she was 15, and then managing the office by the time she was 19.  After working for more than 15 years in manufacturing, Kate was a little bored by it.
In 2008, her and her mother, Kelly Vetter, opened "Village Wardrobe" a children's consignment boutique in downtown Homer and then another one on the square in Monticello.  In 2009, they bought the Homer Soda Company from Ray and Christine Cunningham.  They have expanded the soda business from just a retail location in downtown Homer, to distributing their varieties all across the country.  
The unexpected success of the Homer Soda Company has caused them to sell their retail stores and focus just on the sodas.
Bruce and Kelly, Rob and Kate, and their 5 children all enjoy working together in the family business.

To watch the entire TV interview with Kate Boyer CLICK HERE

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