NEOSHO, Mo. (KMOX) - When Jeremy Davis first launched his business in southwest Missouri nearly a decade ago, he could only rustle up a handful of customers for what he was selling.
“But after Joplin got hit so hard, we’ve really seen an increase in sales,” Davis tells KMOX News.
Davis’ company is called Twister Safe, a clever play on words because his company builds super-strong windowless shelters just big enough for a handful of people to ride out major storms, all the way up to EF-5 tornadoes according to their website, www.twistersafe.com.
The biggest twist is that these are boxes with thick steel walls that are built into homes, above ground — something that Davis says took years to catch on.
“People just did not believe that something steel, bolted down, would hold up to anything,” Davis remembers. “They’re mindset was so stuck on you had to be below ground or in a basement.”
They have photos and testimonials from customers showing that in places like Joplin, entire homes were ripped apart – with the Tornado Safe shelter the only thing still standing.
That kind of protection comes at a price; shelters holding two-to-three people start at $2,000, while top-of-the-line models that can squeeze in up to five people top out at $3,990.
But according to Davis, the peace of mind that comes with the purchase of an EF-5 proof shelter is priceless.
“One of our customers said ‘I’d rather buy this and never use it than to need it and not have bought it’,” Davis recalls.
Now company officials face the kind of challenge that they could only dream of when they first started out…keeping up with demand.
“It’s been tough…it’s really tough when you’ve been selling 25 to 30 one year and then you sell 250 the next,” Davis says. “We actually started out with four to five employees, now we’re upwards of 20. We bought a much bigger building, and we’re getting ready to add on.”