Carrie Rengers

Desert Steel and Slickwraps take ‘major opportunity’ with moves into Old Town

Slickwraps founder Jonathan Endicott has moved his company to Old Town and is planning a retail presence in addition to a manufacturing one once improvements along Mosley Street are complete.
Slickwraps founder Jonathan Endicott has moved his company to Old Town and is planning a retail presence in addition to a manufacturing one once improvements along Mosley Street are complete. The Wichita Eagle

A couple of businesses are about to seriously increase their profiles with moves into Old Town.

“We see a major opportunity to move into Wichita,” says Jason McClintock, general manager of Newton-based Desert Steel.

The company will announce its presence at 312 N. Mosley, just to the east of the Courtyard by Marriott, in early May with one of the 20-to-30-foot steel pieces of landscape decor that it’s known for creating.

McClintock says the idea is to introduce something that “becomes kind of an iconic statement in Old Town.”

“Everyone will know what it is when we get it done,” he says. “That was an exciting thing for us that we can kind of be an anchor, if you will, on that corner.”

Slickwraps, which makes high-end accessories for electronic devices, moved into its new 6,000-square-foot space at 355 N. Mosley this week and plans its first retail storefront as soon as improvements along Mosley are finished.

“It’s a completely different world down here,” says Jonathan Endicott, who founded the Andover-based company in 2010.

“For one, the energy,” he says. Also, Endicott says, “The best restaurants in town, in my opinion, are down here.”

Like Slickwraps, Desert Steel also will have a retail presence in Old Town.

“We don’t have any of that here in Newton today,” McClintock says. In the industrial park where the company’s manufacturing is in Newton, he says it’s difficult “where nobody knows that you even exist.”

The companies will be along a stretch of Mosley between Second and Third streets where, along with the same stretch on Rock Island, the city plans improvements later this year. That includes brick paving, sidewalks, ornamental streetlights, benches and other upgrades similar to the rest of Old Town.

That’s quite a change from when Eric Carroll and Richard Turner opened Desert Steel in Old Town a dozen years ago.

“The company was kind of birthed in Old Town,” McClintock says.

He says it was forced to move as it grew, though.

“They needed a lot more space than what was available there,” McClintock says. “A lot has changed in 12 years.”

He says it makes sense for the company to return.

“We’re an art company, and that’s kind of the art district down through there.”

Desert Steel creates landscape decor such as steel palm trees, cacti and sunflowers that it sells at art shows and to businesses such as hotels and casinos. It also has a wholesale side that sells to companies such as QVC, Menards and Ace Hardware.

Endicott says he has customers such as Apple, Google, DreamWorks Animation and Sephora and continues to grow.

“We outgrew our space two years ago,” he says of his 4,000-square-foot Andover office.

Endicott says he was happy to remain in Andover with larger space.

“It’s a small, tight-knit community.”

He says he’s moving for his 20 employees, many of whom had to make a far “trek” to Andover.

Endicott says Old Town is “a great central location for our staff.”

Slickwraps also has another 20 freelancers.

When a real estate broker told Endicott about a “really grungy old warehouse that I’ll absolutely hate,” he decided to look anyway.

“It hadn’t been touched in forever.”

He says he’s not even someone who likes older things.

“It looks really cool now,” Endicott says of the building’s glass and industrial look.

“I don’t even have an office desk yet,” he says. “It’s a mess, but we’re excited to be down here.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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