A casual conversation on a lacrosse field introduced me to Griffin Technology. Did you know that one of the largest manufacturers (if not the largest) of Apple accessories in the world is housed right here in Nashville? There’s a good chance, the next time you pop your iPhone into its cute little case, that you’ll be using a product created by our own Griffin Technology.
Started in Nashville in 1992, Griffin Technology is not only a driver of innovation, it is also a huge employer with over 300 employees globally. All of this without even a real nod from Silicon Valley. When Apple unrolls a new product, Griffin doesn’t have an inside track, but what they do have is an astounding ability to react and respond with amazing speed to any product roll out.
Griffin Technology is located in what’s called the Sawtooth Building. The building was constructed in the early 1900’s in a neighborhood near Wedgewood Avenue near the Fairgrounds, an area currently undergoing a resurgence of its own.
The building served as the home to General Wax Industries until the 1950’s, and then was used in a variety of ways, including as a mattress factory, before Griffin moved in. The distinctive sawtooth architecture was used in this period for several reasons; it was easy to expand and took advantage of natural light.
Inside, Griffin boasts one of Nashville’s coolest and most creative office interiors. A vintage VW bus greets you at the reception area, and a coffee bar crafted from a bowling lane is a perfect spot for a caffeine fix.
As I toured the premises, I felt like I was in a think tank. Groups of techies gathered, Apple computers at the ready, and it was obvious something truly special was going on. The Griffin vibe reminds me of a favorite bumper sticker from my Denver radio days, “Too Hip.”
So, what exactly is going on?
Founded in the early 90’s on Paul Griffin’s kitchen table, the company’s growth is phenomenal. I became aware of the company through my friend Bob Schatz, one of Nashville’s most respected photographers. Our daughters spent countless hours on the lacrosse field together, so we got to know each other. Bob’s wife, Lisa, other than being Paul Griffin’s sister, is quite an entrepreneur herself, having started a dress shop on 2nd Avenue. She now serves as HR director at Griffin Technology.
From the beginning Paul Griffin was a “techie,” starting his career making video adapters for PCs and Macs. However, the path of the company changed dramatically when Paul and his team created one of the first accessories ever made for Apple’s new iPod, the iTrip.
Years later in 2007, Griffin continued their remarkable growth by designing the first accessories for the original iPhone.
Relying on great design and a highly opportunistic business model, Griffin has become an international success story, with Apple accessories and technical devices, such as speakers, power adapters and phone cases available at stores in North and South America, Europe and Asia, not to mention through major retailers and online suppliers everywhere.
Clearly, their products speak to our everyday life, and their latest offerings are evidence that the company’s creative juices are flowing big time.
Earlier this Spring, Griffin Technology announced the Crayola Light Marker, a new way for young artists to create digital masterpieces using innovative mobile technology. Crayola Light Marker, combined with a free downloadable multi-activity app, delivers hours of colorful fun. The app has a digital Crayola Crayon Box with digital markers, crayons, paintbrushes, stamps and more.
In July, Griffin launched the PowerDock 5. It’s the ultimate space-saving, countertop charging and storage solution that will safely charge and store up to five devices–iPads, iPhones or iPods–all at the same time, from a single power source. It is a perfect device for small offices and workgroups.
Griffin has satellite offices in Europe and Asia in addition to its headquarters in Nashville, which has expanded nearly a half dozen times since the company’s founding in 1992.
What is new on the horizon for Griffin Technology?
If their first-ever retail store in London, which opened last year for the 2012 Olympics, is any indication, we may see Griffin retail stores pop up in Music City. I could easily see a location in the Gulch or even right near the Entrepreneur Center’s new location in the Trolley Barns. In the meantime, Griffin continues to experiment with their retail presence at shopping centers across the nation with mall kiosks they call MicroStores. You may have even noticed the Griffiin MicroStore here in the Nashville area at the Cool Springs Galleria, a location they’ve had at the mall since last December.
Note: All the products featured on today’s post can be found on Griffin’s website: www.griffintechnology.com