Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Survival Straps: interview with kurt walchle (part 1)

by frédérik sisa

I came across Survival Straps through, of all things, a Facebook ad. What the heck, I thought: it looked rather nifty so I clicked. And so it is. Very nifty. Survival Straps consists of bracelets, belts, watch straps and more woven out of paracord - parachute cord that is lightweight, durable, and of immense use to both military personnel and civilians) - and usable in emergencies. While I intend to talk more about the Survival Straps themselves in an upcoming post - I just love the blend of fashion and a good cause - for today I’m sharing Part 1 of my interview with Kurt Walchle, president of Tough Gear Inc.


What inspired you to make bracelets and the like out of paracord?

I have always made stuff out of paracord. I got sick of my old watch strap, and thought I could make something cooler on my own. After wearing the first one for a while, I began to get a lot of compliments. I thought, if they like the straps, and I like the straps, surely other people will like them as well. We then started to sell them and then added the bracelets and other products. We really opened up when we came out with all of the color combinations. Our customers have really responded well.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a great cause for everyone, regardless of where their politics happen to fall in the spectrum, to rally around. How did the project come to your attention, and how have your customers responded to your call to help injured soldiers?

The WWP is based here in Jacksonville where we are from. My family has donated personally to them throughout the past several years. I really believe in their mission and saw an opportunity to try and do some good. We have done a lot of advertising and raised some $ for them. Our Warriors coming home need a lot of help. All of us as americans need to step in and help these guys who have sacrificed so much for us. I am able to go on with my normal life here at home while our troops are fighting and dying overseas for us. When they come home, they need our help. The bottom line is that they are there for us, we need to be there for them. We have big plans to do a lot more in the near future when it comes to helping our Warriors.

Our customers have responded great. I think most Americans want to help out but don't really know what they can do. Through our care packages, we are trying to give everyone a way to support the men and women in uniform.

Any favourite stories of customers using their Survival Straps to get out of tricky situations?

We get all kinds of great stories. We are currently giving our site a facelift and will be highlighting the stories much more coming up in the next couple of weeks.

This story is from one of our great customers, Mike Harper. He has ordered a few pieces of gear from us over the past couple of years. I have only corresponded with Mike via email, but you can tell that he is one of those salt of the earth guys. He is currently training for a 100 mile bike race around Lake Tahoe. He is doing this because one of his best friend’s 2 year old son has been diagnosed with leukemia. He is doing this race to raise money for his friend's son's disease. Like I said, he seems like an incredible guy. Well, his story is the tops so far on how a piece of SurvivalStrap gear has been used. Here is his email to me:

"Kurt,

I have owed you an email for some time, I actually used my survival strap for pulling someone out of a river that was drowning on a float trip. I think you should hear the whole story.

A buddy and I were canoeing down a fork of the White River in southern MO. It's a popular float trip for college kids and families. It was just gonna be a guys weekend...low key.

It was just after lunch and we were coming to a part in the river that was pretty fast moving, and there was a pretty big tree that had fallen into the center of the river. While the river wasn't super deep at this point, it was fast moving and the current around the tree was challenging to get our canoe around. What made it even crazier is that this was right after a bend in the river, so you really didn't see it until you were right on top of it.

So my friend and I made it around the tree, but it wasn't easy. I don't know why, but something made us stop by the shore and take a break. Folks were getting around it OK, but there was a woman on an innertube that didn't seem to be moving out of the way.and she got stuck under one of the bigger tree branches, submerged in the river and couldn't get untangled...

Honestly, I have no idea what happened next, other than I remember breaking the buckle on my Survival Strap, handing one end to by buddy and told him to hang on, jumped into the river and got her untangled from the branches that were holding her under the water. My buddy then helped pull me in with the paracord that came from the Survival Strap.

So there's the whole story... I will ALWAYS wear one of your products whenever I am doing anything in the outdoors again...

God Bless, Mike Harper"

I was blown away when Mike sent me this story. This is the first true account of how one of our SurvivalStraps was actually used in a survival situation. This really solidified that our gear can work for its intended purpose. He got a free replacement Survival Bracelet. We hope he never has to use this one!

Part II of this interview will post next week...stay tuned! (And don't forget: you can have new posts delivered straight into your inbox by signing up for an eMail subscription. Considering we only post about twice a week, you can be sure you won't be flooded with reading beyond the time it takes to enjoy a hot cuppa.)

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