As an All-American placekicker in college and later for the Spokane Shock, Taylor Rowan had a knack for covering long distances with a single boot.
As the owner of Taylor’d Containers, Rowan now closes a different kind of gap for a growing customer base by providing smart and innovative solutions.
Rowan made his mark at Western Illinois University as a four-year starter and holder of numerous school records, including a 56-yard field goal. After graduating in 2009, the Florida native began a professional football journey that would take him to three leagues – the AF2, UFL, and AFL. In 2010, he was part of the Shock’s Arena Bowl XXIII championship.
Rowan earned a degree in construction management at Western Illinois but never anticipated launching a company after football that would specialize in custom-made storage containers.
“I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur in something,” he said.
Before starting Taylor’d Containers in 2017, Rowan had heard about storage containers being used in the construction of homes, even studying the approach as part of a college project on non-traditional building materials. In 2015, while working for his father-in-law at Frencken America Inc., a manufacturing company in Liberty Lake, Rowan was tasked with the responsibility of finding a storage container.
“I was just trying to find the best deal I could,” he said. “I started learning the terminology of containers and figuring out their re-sale value here.”
The search for a bargain container led Rowan down a path to his own enterprise. He secured a Commercial Driver’s License, bought a truck and trailer, and began hauling 40-foot containers from the west side of the state to sell in the Spokane area. At one point, he was making five round-trips a week.
“Being in Spokane, it was the perfect distance,” Rowan said. “When you start a business, you truly have to wear all the hats to appreciate and understand what needs to be done.”
The venture grew at a steady pace with a considerable profit margin. Rowan began hiring drivers and turned his focus to delivering containers once they arrived. He was operating out of his home at the time, leasing space in a large field behind his residence to handle the substantial logistics.
Rowan admits he was surprised by the demand for containers.
“People just want lockable storage that is a cheaper solution than building a shed,” he said. “Plus they’re a lot more secure.”
By 2019, Taylor’d Containers had brought on its first full-time salesperson. Times were prosperous until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.
“Everything shut down, when China shut down,” Rowan said. “We had to pivot.”
The Spokane Valley-based company dropped to an average of one to three containers sold per week. Around that time, the Airway Heights Fire Department reached out to Rowan about providing a custom-made container that could be used to train firefighters.
“My goal was always to modify containers,” Rowan said. “We had started some of that fabricating in 2019.”
Rowan moved quickly, outsourcing engineering and architectural advice to assist in the construction of training facilities out of containers where fire safety personnel could practice search and rescue while offering versatility previously not available. A prop soon took shape that featured 10 different training apparatuses within the confines of a parking lot.
“Now, 50 to 75 percent of their training can be done at their facility,” Rowan said.
The patented prop was ready by March of 2022. The following month, Rowan unveiled the idea at a trade show in Indianapolis. Interest soared and in the wake of the appearance, 116 requests for qualifications streamed into Taylor’d Containers from all over the world.
“This is the threshold point for our company,” Rowan said.
The specialized training towers are utilized locally by Kootenai County Fire and Rescue Training, and Spokane County Districts 10 and 13. Rowan has also been talking with the Spokane Valley Fire Department as part of the development of a prototype of the original prop.
Stan Kirk, fire chief for Spokane Fire District 13 in Newman Lake, helped Rowan with the original design of the prop. He said the custom-made facilities promote “critical thinking, problem-solving and situational awareness” in the training process.
“It’s been a very useful tool,” Kirk said. “These are less expensive and you can design them in multiple ways to create a variety of scenarios. Different departments are modifying them for their training needs.”
Rowan secured a general contractor’s license that focuses on container customization for the training towers as well as a diversity of residential and commercial uses. The company, based at 18009 E. Appleway in Spokane Valley, now has four full-time fabricators/welders on staff.
“We’re really starting to find our footing,” Rowan said.
This article was published in the 2022 Greater Spokane Valley Chamber Magazine.