Long time Valparaiso resident Ed Uehling felt that the best thing he could do was support his best friend Ben Bauer after recovering from back surgery. He had no idea it would change his life forever.
Uehling was born and raised in Valparaiso and attended Valparaiso High School where he met his long time best friend Bauer. The two reminded close even when college came into the picture with Westminster College being where Uehling attended from 1997 – 2003. “We have been like brothers really,” Uehling stated, “who knew we would be founding a company together over twenty years later.”
Uehling is speaking of his company Kind Tailgates he co-founded with Bauer in 2016 after Bauer’s car accident. “Ben is a union carpenter in the area and was always sitting on the back of the truck during breaks and stuff like that. We were looking for a way for him to be more comfortable especially after his injury.” The friend patented a new concept for tailgating. The design is called a “split-tailgate design” and encloses a set within the tailgate for more comfort when out in the field.
Humbled Uehling spoke about the great supports he has had in our NWI community and spoke about how great Purdue Northwest has been. He is grateful for all the opportunities life has provided him and could not speak enough about how amazing our community is, and that there are many resources people should know about, so they can make things happen in their lives like he did.
He wants young entrepreneurs to know that over the years he has learned that growing a company with speed involves delegation, hiring qualified people to help in the areas you do not know as much about and there will be pitfalls, but you just need to get back up and persist. “I have learned so much and now we can start moving our dreams into a good place, and built our dream team,” Uehling noted.
Looking ahead, Uehling & Bauer are looking to evolve their split-tailgate seat a little further and are already working on future products. The long-time friends have filled patents for other storage configurations. A huge mentor and supporter of him throughout his life, as well as Bauer’s life, is Hank Scott and Gary Brown Lee. They both believed in Uehling’s potential and supported him and his partner through their entrepreneurial journey. Brown Lee helped Uehling with business development and works for the Indiana Small Business Development Center. “He definitely helped Ben and I with developing a business plan, and I feel it is important for people to know where to find resources to make your dreams happen,” Uehling stressed again about the wonderful community in which he grew up.
Without support from friends and the community, this inspirational story would not have had the happy ending it has had.