Entrepreneur sells 'SureCan' gas cans throughout northern Utah

Saturday , September 19, 2015 - 3:39 PM4 comments

By Caleb Larkin

OGDEN – A building contractor’s goal to make red gasoline cans more “green” and efficient places his innovative product in several northern Utah retail stores.

Brad Ouderkirk, owner of SureCan, came up with the idea for the new gasoline can because he “was tired of messing around with other dysfunctional gas cans.” Ouderkirk’s background is in building. His only experience in manufacturing dates back over 21 years ago when he worked with Boeing in Seattle.

The Ouderkirks have extended family in the Ogden area, so when his three children reached school age he decided to set their education first and return to his roots in Ogden. “It’s just a nice place to raise a family,” he said.

Ouderkirk worked as a general contractor for many years and eventually owned a cabinet shop in North Ogden. That’s where he invented the SureCan, with his first prototype made from wood in his shop in 2011. He had dealt with difficult gas cans that “spilled every time.” That’s when he decided there had to be a better way.

Once he set his mind to find a solution, he shared different ideas with friends and family in the area. After he got enough feedback he knew the product was gaining momentum. “Now it was just a matter of getting the funding to get started,” Ouderkirk said.

SureCan has come a long way since then, winning the 2014 National Hardware Show’s “Most Innovative New Product” award in Las Vegas. They also won the “Retailers Choice Award” at the same show.

Ouderkirk takes pride in “doing everything to make sure it [the gas can] is built like it should be.” He accredits that focus to the company’s success so far.

“We are the greenest red gas can,” Ouderkirk said. “By next year we hope to have the best EPA-tested gas can on the market.”

Over 20 million gas cans are sold in the US each year. The EPA estimates over 17 million gallons are spilled or leaked each year just from household gas cans.

“Our can eliminates virtually all spillage,” Ouderkirk said.

SureCan features an adjustable spout at the bottom of the can, not the top. The gasoline, therefore, flows from the can down the spout into the machine. The can removes the need to tip the can to pour and instead uses a thumb-release trigger to start the flow. It also has a six-layer plastic technology. The layers keep fumes from penetrating through the barrier. “You won’t be able to smell it if you leave it in your car,” Ouderkirk said.

They currently carry two sizes, a 2.2 gallon can at $36.99 and a 5 gallon can at $44.99. Ouderkirk hopes people will see the higher quality and usability of the product and make the decision to pay more.

In May this year, SureCan participated with Chevron in a Utah Clean Air (UCAIR) gas can exchange event. UCAIR hosted the event for people in the area to bring “old, empty gas can[s] and exchange [them] for a brand new SureCan.” They exchanged 2600 gas cans at the event. UCAIR “estimated that roughly 7,288 fuel cans were exchanged.” That equated to eliminating 800 cars driving on the road every day for 5 years.

SureCan started mass production at their manufacturing facility in Tennessee this year. They produce about 1200 cans a day. “We hope to be at 6,000 cans a day by the end of the year,” Ouderkirk said.

“We pressure test every single can,” Ouderkirk said. They also perform a drop test at 14 feet — Ouderkirk boasts that SureCans bounce instead of crack. Ouderkirk has even parked his Ford F-250 on two of the cans to check durability.

“We over-test it, I believe,” Ouderkirk said. “I need to ensure I’m building the best product just to sleep at night.”

So far their bread and butter for sales comes from the “Ma and Pa” stores in the area such as Smith & Edwards and CAL Ranch. The can is in close to 100 stores on the Wasatch Front such as Big O Tires, Ace Hardware in Brigham City, and Ogden Lawn & Garden. “We are in so many places that I never dreamed we’d be in,” Ouderkirk said.

“It’s a machine, it’s not a tank that holds your gas anymore. It’s a functioning machine,” Ouderkirk said. He feels the big opportunity available is that “people hate the cans that they are using now.” EPA regulations requires spouts and vents on gas cans to close automatically. Ouderkirk believes he has simply made that process easier.

Ouderkirk feels re-educating the public is the biggest obstacle the company faces. “People see a red can and they think it’s the same,” he said, adding that he feels people just need to use it to understand the differences between his product and other familiar ones.

“For anybody that’s ever used a gas can, it takes about two seconds, and they get it.” Ouderkirk said.

“It does what we say it does, it’s safer, it’s greener, it’s easier to use. It’s just better for the consumer,” Ouderkirk said. “We stand behind our product 100%. If for any reason someone has an issue with a SureCan, we’ll take care of it, no questions asked.”

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