BECKLEY (WVDN) – The West Virginia Hive has selected Dr. Marcus Thomas, owner of Fat Bottom Coolers, as its 2022 Entrepreneur of the Year. Each year, the entrepreneurial arm of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) recognizes top performing Hive clients in a number of categories.
“Marcus is a thinker, an inventor and a bit of a perfectionist,” said Judy Moore, executive director of the WV Hive and deputy director of the NRGRDA. “He had an idea for a product that would revolutionize an industry and enhance customers’ active lifestyles. All of us at the Hive have enjoyed working with him and seeing his innovative curvy design come to life.”
Fat Bottom Coolers was born three years ago when Thomas became annoyed with strapping and unstrapping traditional coolers while enjoying rafting, riding and hiking outdoors in the New River Gorge region. The fat bottom design is essential, and many prototypes and manufacturers were explored before Thomas was satisfied with the design.
Thomas said, “We didn’t set out to make a cooler that holds ice for long periods; we wanted to create a product that was easy to use, easy to strap down, allow access to the cooler without any additional add-ons — and looks great doing so. I believe we have succeeded in this. And yes, the Fat Bottom Cooler will hold ice as long as our competitors.”
The Fat Bottom Cooler is designed for a strap to be placed around the middle or “the waist” of the curvy cooler (most competitors’ coolers are square top to bottom). The widened bottom and the lid keep the horizontal strap from sliding up or down during transport or movement. Because there is not a strap across the top of the cooler, there is easy access to ice and beverages.
A chiropractor, Thomas participated in the Southern WV Pitch Competition in September to call attention to his innovation and his new business. Even though he didn’t win, his product created quite a stir among those who judged the competition, and they immediately saw the value in the product and Thomas’ determination. The Fat Bottom Cooler was also showcased at the WV Hive tent at Bridge Day 2022, which was attended by more than 100,000 people.
The WV Hive has provided technical assistance funding to help support design of a logo that showcases the product.
The WV Hive is the entrepreneurship program of the NRGRDA and the administrator of the Country Roads Angel Network. Its 13-county service area includes Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Nicholas, Webster, Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Monroe, Mercer, McDowell, Wyoming, Logan and Mingo.