Directions 2021: When world shifted to online shopping, Lincoln’s online super-seller was ready

A view of Spreetail's headquarters in Lincoln at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

After 20 years, the co-founder and CEO of Razor knows what keeps his company rolling.

It sticks to designing and supplying scooters. Nearly 35 million so far, its early and iconic kick models joined by a growing line of self-propelled toys: go-karts, hoverboards, skates and skateboards.

But Carlton Calvin also knows what would slow his company down.

It doesn’t have the space to store its products or the ability to deliver them to customers by the next day, or even the day after that. And it’s not equipped to get its scooters to dominate search results on shopping sites like Amazon, Target or Walmart.

For that -- for getting its goods into the hands of customers -- Razor relies heavily on Spreetail, likely the biggest Lincoln-based company most people haven’t heard of.

“We only sell to people like Spreetail, who know how to work the internet. That’s what they do,” Calvin said. “They’ve also figured out how to ship it economically, which we can’t do. We don’t do anything like what they do.”

And here’s what Spreetail does, in the simplest terms: It partners with manufacturers and sells thousands of products online, last year filling and shipping nearly 10 million orders annually from its warehouses -- or fulfillment centers -- in a half-dozen states, from Nevada to Pennsylvania.

But it’s more complicated than that.

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