Making products today for tomorrow’s travelers
Employees of Travelon, a Chicago-based company that designs and distributes travel accessories, receive financial education through Wells Fargo at Work.
In today’s world of strict airport regulations and heightened security, anyone under the age of 20 would struggle to remember a time when the people you were flying to visit could literally greet you as you walked off the plane.
Now we say our hellos and goodbyes well beyond the terminal. We then take off our shoes, take out our laptops, and hopefully remember to take everything with us when we finally make it through the airport’s security line.
Travelon, which started out in 1978 making luggage carts, recognized quickly that the experience of increased security checks at airports was changing travelers’ habits. Thus was born its travel neck wallet, designed to hold all the items you need to have close at hand in the airport — from your boarding pass to your passport.
After introducing this simple, yet useful product to the marketplace in 2001, Travelon went on to sell more than 1 million neck wallets in its first several years on the market.
From there, the company’s line of security- and convenience-focused travel products has continued to grow.
Travelon CEO Don Godshaw credits the company’s success to a willingness to look beyond the current marketplace in hopes of forecasting what tomorrow’s travelers need today.
“If you can provide a product that addresses a consumer’s need in a unique way, you’ll likely find a market for it and drive demand,” said Godshaw.
That’s proven true for Travelon’s largest product lineup — anti-theft bags that are designed with security features like hidden compartments and locking zippers.
“Through our research, we discovered that in some locales bag slashing is the No. 1 method that thieves use to rob unsuspecting travelers,” noted Godshaw. “So we developed slash-resistant bags made with a flexible, high-tech stainless steel mesh.”
Driven by a need for continued innovation, Travelon currently produces more than 400 travel accessories, selling its products through leading U.S. retailers like The Container Store, Amazon, and eBags, and in more than 50 countries around the world.
Empowering employees financially and with financial education
While Godshaw’s business savvy — and ability to lead the competition in spotting market trends — has helped Travelon become an industry leader, the CEO is quick to acknowledge the important role his employees have played in the company’s success.
He does this not just with words, but by providing them with competitive wages and sharing the company’s profits through annual bonuses.
“I believe that employees serve the firm better if they’re financially stable. And to me, that means they’ve got a savings for at least a few months’ worth of living expenses,” said Godshaw. “So if they’re saving and eventually able to buy a house instead of renting an apartment, that’s really going to change their life and change their economic status.”
Godshaw’s desire to empower his employees also includes ensuring they have the financial skills to properly save and plan with the money they’ve earned. When he mentioned this to his Well Fargo banker, Brian Ruger, he was surprised to learn that the bank provided exactly that type of financial education through its Wells Fargo at WorkSM program.
“Wells Fargo at Work is an employee benefits program available for Wells Fargo business customers at no cost to their company,” said Ruger. “The program includes financial education, tools, and information — including educational seminars — to help support and improve the financial well-being of a company’s employees.”
Over the past two years, Wells Fargo at Work representatives have conducted one-on-one consultations with Travelon employees and hosted seminars for them on the topics of budgeting and savings, credit, identity theft, investing, and first-time home buying.
Godshaw appreciates that his relationship with Wells Fargo goes beyond dollars and cents.
“From a purely banking perspective, Wells Fargo has helped by being flexible in expanding our lines of credit to accommodate Travelon growing beyond our wildest expectations,” reflected Godshaw. “However, I’ve never heard of a bank offering an HR feature like the Wells Fargo at Work program. Yes, it takes a few hours out of an employee’s workday to attend a financial education seminar. But if that means we’re able to strengthen their financial health and improve their lives, well, that’s as important as anything we can do.”