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In process

In process

Dan Ratterman `15 January 31, 2023

Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos — they all started their companies in garages. And I can definitely relate.

My Flyer story: Ratterman in-copy
Dan Ratterman `15

While I was a senior industrial engineer-ing technology major at UD, my entire family helped my brother, Chris, start his sunglasses company, Shady Rays, out of our living room in Louisville, Kentucky. Not quite a garage, but close enough.

Our living room was our fulfillment center, all 200 square feet of it. Back then, my parents, Tom Ratterman and Jane Berg Ratterman ’74, were processing around 10 orders every day. There was a little card table with a laptop, a label printer and a small shelf with inventory. My mom and dad would box up every order, print out the label and drive them to the post office at 5 p.m.

Until one Christmas break, when I came home fresh from Professor Chuck Edmonson's class on facilities layout design and simulation, where we discussed lean workstation design. When I arrived home, I saw my dad spending way too much time packing each order.

I grabbed a stopwatch and a piece of paper and did a time study on all the steps included in packing an order. Then I said, "Give me three hours." I reorganized the entire flow, applying everything I learned from that class. Then I asked my Dad to come back and pack a few more orders.

"I timed the new process and my changes had improved the process by around 600%."

I timed the new process and my changes had improved the process by around 600%. My dad was blown away and had the biggest smile on his face.

Fast forward a few years and I joined Shady Rays as chief operations officer. In 2018 we opened a new fulfillment center using the same principles I applied to the living room. At the ribbon cutting, both my mom and dad were there to share in the excitement. This was especially meaningful because just a few months later, my dad unexpectedly passed away. It was so incredible to have him there for the ribbon cutting to see how far we have come.

Shady Rays has gone from just 10 orders per day to ship-ping out up to 10,000 per day to a loyal customer base all over the world. And if it wasn’t for my mom and dad’s hard work and this pivotal part of my UD education, we might still be stuck in the living room (or the garage).

- As told to Nicole L. Craw

5 questions with CJ Levy `23