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From an Akron Basement to a National Award, Company 'Pedals' Its Way to Success

guitar effects pedal
EarthQuaker Devices
Akron-based EarthQuaker Devices makes hand-made guitar pedals. The company is being honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

An Akron-based small business received an award from the Small Business Administration Monday.

Pedal devices can help bands like Akron-based Relaxer create guitar effects. Relaxer band member Jamie Stillman started making pedal devices in his Akron basement 15 years ago.

Now, his company EarthQuaker Devices is receiving the 2019 Exporter of the Year award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Stillman’s wife, Julie Robbins, serves as CEO and said they’re proud to still manufacture in downtown Akron.

“There are a lot of resources here for companies looking to grow and looking to expand their exports, so it’s really a wonderful place to run a business in," Robbins said.

The SBA award honors a company that has a strong entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to diversity. With a marketing team fluent in seven languages, Robbins said the company focuses on reaching out to consumers of all backgrounds.

CEO Julie Robbins explains how the marketing team reaches out to diverse audiences.

“We go out of our way to make sure we’re representing types of people in our marketing, all different ages, races, sexual orientations," she said. It’s very important to me that all sorts of people can look at our products and see themselves.”

Robbins also says the business has taken advantage of SBA resources, such as funds to purchase their building, conduct global training and hire an intern.