Dave Ems sits in his office and casually rattles off numbers as he reflects on the last year and a half of his life. Leaping from $3,000 in sales in …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
Dave Ems sits in his office and casually rattles off numbers as
he reflects on the last year and a half of his life.
Leaping from $3,000 in sales in January 2009 to roughly $1
million per month today. Expanding from 33,000 products to 500,000
products in the near future. Increasing his company’s advertising
expenditures to $12,000-$15,000 next month.
Any man who has just turned 50 could very well be in the throes
of a mid-life crisis. Not Ems. He is quietly building an empire
that will likely become a household name within a few short
“I want to be a dominant name in the Internet space selling
brand new products in home improvement,” Ems says with
Ems, the owner of Overstockdeals.com, works out of a
modest office in a Shea Properties-owned building at Highlands
Ranch Parkway and Ridgeline Boulevard. A few customer support reps
chatter just outside his door, and papers depicting upward-trending
graphs lie scattered on his desk.
At first glance, it looks like a mom and pop operation, but
catapulted itself to third in sales among online overstock
retailers. The most amazing part is that Ems has cracked into the
lucrative and competitive overstock market without having so much
as one product of overstock. It’s all in the name, and it’s all in
the name of breaking into a niche market with tremendous growth
largely sells kitchen and bathroom sinks and faucets, and while
many might not have heard of the company, they almost certainly
have come across an advertisement or two. Ems buys coveted ad space
at the top of websites like Google, HGTV.com and Amazon, offering low-priced
alternatives for virtually every faucet and sink by the top name
brands. Ems declined to publicly discuss his suppliers, but all of
his products are brand new, guaranteed and sent to customers free
Ems figures he has a decent shot at success in the overstock
market, particularly because some liquidation companies have earned
a reputation for selling shoddy products and using questionable
business practices. Bucking that tradition, Ems built his website
as a user-friendly guide for the do-it-yourselfer. Each product
lists the required accessories and installation tips, and Google
Shopping shows price comparisons with larger retailers. Buying
guides, how-to instructions and step-by-step repair narratives are
also intended to keep customers coming back.
Overstockdeals.com is on
pace to exceed $7.2 million in sales this year, far more than the
$6.5 million Ems originally predicted and crushing last year’s
paltry total of $1.6 million. He estimates that accumulating sales
of $20 million to $30 million next year is not out of the question
and is, in fact, a “reasonable” figure range.
The company’s exponential growth is due in large part to the
sluggish housing market. Many of those who are unable to sell have
decided to upgrade their homes to be ready when the market bounces
back. The “DIY” market has exploded as homeowners try to trim
costs, and the economy has consumers looking for the best prices
available. It’s the perfect formula for Ems, who has countless
positive online reviews and the reputation of top manufacturers on
Creating and overseeing a company with so much early promise
came as somewhat of a surprise to Ems, who spent 26 years in the
corporate world. His most recent job was as vice president for
Western Union, negotiating contracts with big players. But when the
economy tumbled and companies sought to cut the payroll in 2007,
Ems found himself without a job or a definitive direction.
“In this day and age, everyone has to evolve and continually
change. If you asked me in 2007 when I got laid off what would I
do, I don’t know,” he says.
When he happened upon a job that paid him to help blow out
excess inventory for a large retailer, Ems took note of the demand
for overstock home improvement merchandise. He believed that if he
created a company that could muscle its way into the industry, even
without overstock, that consumers would begin to catch on.
He invested $300,000-$500,000 of his own money and took out a
$120,000 small-business loan. After spending months tediously
developing a content-driven website, he officially launched
His contracts with suppliers enable him to work without
operating warehouse space or employing shipping crews. That means
low overhead, fewer insurance premiums, and with only five
dedicated employees, the dot-com is turning quite the profit.
Ems envisions moving into a larger space in Highlands Ranch and
hiring more employees sooner rather than later to keep up with the
demand. His spreadsheets show him that he averages 150 orders per
day and was up to 2,400 orders for the month of September. Overstockdeals.com now boasts
high-profile customers, including ESPN, Dreamworks Studios and
Apple, and as much as 30 percent of his business is from commercial
Ems, a Highlands Ranch resident for 10 years, wants to branch
out to gas grills, power tools, lighting and door hardware, but
wants to bring more kitchen and bath products on line before
tackling bigger things. The sky is the limit for those who dream
big, and Ems makes no apologies for wanting to be “known.”
“It’s weird to think about the growth,” he says. “I just want to
take it on.”
He knows most people have never heard of his company, but for
now, he has fun when hearing about a neighbor who bought from the
online store without knowing Ems was at the helm.
He already has another project on the horizon. While securing
the trademark for Overstockdeals.com, he came across
a website that was for sale: savewatertoday.com. Ems has
aspirations of cornering the market for water-saving technology
products, which he sees as another area with potential astronomical
growth. The water-saving devices will be used in mass scale for
hotels, pools, recreation centers, homes and office buildings as
conservation gets more popular.
Ems gets an almost mischievous gleam in his eye when talking
about his future plans. But, who knows? Maybe it’s his brain
sparking another million-dollar idea.
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.