Monkey Hook LLC
Where: San Juan Capistrano
12-month sales: $2.1 million
Two-year growth: 290%
OC workers: three
Business: seller of wall hanger hooks
Sales are going bananas for a no-tool, instant wall hanger made by San Juan Capistrano-based Monkey Hook LLC.
The company ranked No. 9 on the Business Journal’s 2009 list of fast-growing private companies with sales growth of 290% for the two years through June 30.
For the 12 months through June, Monkey Hook had sales of $2.1 million, up from $543,145 for the same period in 2007.
Monkey Hook sells its hooks for pictures, mirrors and other wall hanging items in stores and via its own commercials and a Web site.
The company got its big break in 2005 when it won a retailer’s choice award at a home show in Las Vegas. That put it on the radar of Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware Corp., which started selling the company’s hook in 2006.
The Monkey Hook became a top-seller within two years at Ace Hard-ware, according to David Kurrasch, Monkey Hook’s founder and managing partner.
That brought other retailers.
“When you’re a one-product company, it’s very hard to get anyone to talk to you,” Kurrasch said. “Ace was the first one to step up and bring us on board.”
From there, the company has gotten its hooks sold by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Lowe’s Cos., The Container Store Inc., some True Value
Co. stores and Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corp.
It recently nabbed Hobby Lobby Inter-national Inc. of Oklaho-ma City, Okla., and Minneapolis-based SuperValu Inc., which runs Albertsons, Bris-tol Farms and other chains.
The company has four products that all revolve around the original Monkey Hook, a tiny, easy-to-install, steel hook designed to hold pictures, artwork and other items on drywall.
The original Monkey Hook can hold up to 50 pounds. The next level hook, the Gorilla Grade Monkey Hook, can hold up to 75 pounds.
There’s also the Flush Mount, a hook with a special tip that keeps things flush to the wall.
Packs of the hooks sell for $3 to $80.
The company’s products are assembled at Elwyn California, a Fountain Valley-based nonprofit that hires people with disabilities.
“We like the fact that instead of going someplace with cheap labor, we are giving people the opportunity to work who otherwise might not get such work,” Kur-rasch said. “We love them, and they love us.”
Maybe you’ve seen Monkey Hook’s commercials, which feature a monkey in-stalling the device and the catch slogan: “So easy, even humans can do it.”
The company’s latest product, the Monkey Mate, is a plastic utility hook that fits onto a Monkey Hook. It can be used to hang small things that people don’t want hung on a wire hook.
Ace Hardware is selling the Monkey Mate. Wal-Mart is set to start selling it in January.
Kurrasch founded the company in 2004. He had just started working full-time at Santa Ana-based Powerwave Technologies Inc., where he ran the wireless networking equipment company’s global recruitment.
The first two years were a big struggle, he said.
He juggled a brutal schedule: wake up at 3 a.m., go to work at Powerwave from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and work for Monkey Hook until 11 p.m.
He said he didn’t anticipate the company taking off like it did.
“I took the job at Powerwave thinking we weren’t going to get where we needed to be,” Kurrasch said. “I was literally there for 13 months and the business just exploded. I had no choice but to leave my full-time job.”
Growth has created challenges for the small company. The three-member staff wears plenty of hats. Monkey Hook uses outside sales representatives and a distributor for some of the bigger retail accounts.
Monkey Hook is eyeing more sales through big-name chains such as Target and Lowe’s, as well as from Canadian retailers.
Kurrasch said he’d like to see the company’s products in stores of Canadian Tire Corp.—sort of the Sears of Canada—and in more of Home Depot Inc.’s Canada shops.
Kurrasch was mum on other plans for growth.
“We’re always looking at new products,” he said. “There are growth plans. I can’t talk about them, other than to say they could in-clude other products, perhaps joint ventures.”
Gomez is a freelance writer in Long Beach.