Seven years ago, I started a journey to transform the world with photoluminescent technology. After serving in the US Marine Corps infantry, I joined my local volunteer fire department as I wanted to continue my service to not just my country but also my local community. For me the decision to serve has always been about leaving things better than I found them. It’s about patriotism, brotherhood and sacrifice. As a firefighter, I always wanted to find ways I could help my brother and sister firefighters. I knew there had to be a better way to see each other and our tools in the dark. My initial thought was to make products that firefighters could use that utilized a brightly glowing photoluminescent (it’s like glow in the dark on steroids) material that could be used on tools, helmets and air-packs that could increase visibility and accountability in dark dangerous environments. From there the company MN8 Foxfire was created.
I started selling these products out of the trunk of my car and after a few months, I realized that there were so many things outside of firefighting accessories that we could do with this technology. As sales started to increase for our firefighting products, we explored other areas that could also use this similar technology. With over 70,000 firefighters using our products we found out how helpful it could be to not only help our fellow firefighters but also help those that the firefighters served; the general public. We came out with several products that could be used in stairwells and warehouses.
Eventually we got into the EXIT sign business and created a second brand called LumAware. We realized that we could use this energy free technology to replace traditional electric EXIT signs that were bad for the environment and cost quite a bit of money to maintain and inspect. There are over 100,000,000 EXIT signs in the US and each of those signs need batteries, lightbulbs, electricity and monthly maintenance. As word started to spread, eventually one of the nations largest retailers, Kroger, saw so much value in both the cost savings and environmental impact that they changed their master specification to require the use of these energy free EXIT signs.
The entrepreneurial journey has had many ups and downs. Change is never easy. If it wasn’t for what I learned in the US Marine Corps about mission accomplishment, I don’t know if I would have had the grit to press forward. Failure is easy, it’s success that is difficult. However, if you have a great idea, a passion for success and surround yourself with great people, anything is possible, even getting your product moved from the trunk of a car to after today being carried by The Home Depot.