While working as a career firefighter/emt, my fire department was conducting our annual fire hose test to ensure each section met the performance standards. When several 50′ sections of fire hose failed their pressure test, they were placed by the dumpster to be sent to the landfill. These sections of fire hose served my community for years, and protected my father along other members of our department before being decommissioned. I quickly realized that hundreds of thousands of fire hoses were being decommissioned each year and being sent to the landfill, a material that will likely take thousands of years to decompose. From the very beginning, we recognized a tremendous opportunity to make a difference by creating products from these once life saving materials.
The Growth Story
2 months after saving our first section of fire hose, I began traveling across my home state of Michigan, collecting fire hoses and the story of the hero’s who once used them. Our first product concept was a fire hose belt. A Craigslist advertisement for a local sewer allowed us to bring concept to reality, producing our first run of belts. After crafting several dozen belts, our part time seamstress suggested we find a new manufacturer as the thickness of the materials were not suitable for her home machine. In 2014 we began working with a sewing company in Grand Rapids, MI in a factory which once crafted belt buckles for soldiers in World War II. This facility was capable of manufacturing several hundred belts per day allowing us to expand our business into retail. After 4 years at this facility, more than 500,000′ of fire hose collected, and retail stores around the United States, we decided to move our entire operation to our own facility.
Today, Ladder 34 Rescued Goods manages the entire flow of our operation. We collect, clean, cut, sew, pack, and ship all under one roof and have the capability to produce more than 1000 belts per day. Since moving into this facility, we have increased our product offering from belts, to bags, wallets, coasters, rugs, dog accessories and more.
Top 3 Elements to Growth
Ladder 34 is built on 3 elements that define who we are as a brand. Made in America, all of our materials are up-cycled and with every purchase, a portion of your sale will be donated to the fire department where your product was originally used.
With these 3 things in mind, while shopping on Ladder 34, you can select a product from a specific city near you. Better yet, the exact item that you see online is the item you will receive to your door.
What would you do with the $25K if you won?
$25,000 would be put directly towards our next big step in this business which is to tell the story of volunteer firefighters. In the United States, more that 75% of firefighters are volunteers. That means when you call 911, more than 3/4 of firefighters are responding to your call for help out of the goodness of their heart, free of charge. We believe that firefighting in the United States is nearing a state of crisis as so few are interested in volunteering. Suicide is now the number one cause of firefighter death and we believe it is time to not only recognize these heroes, but help support their departments by selling products made from their decommissioned fire hose. When is the last time you stopped by your local fire department to support their pancake breakfast? $25,000 would fill our budget for this project and would allow us to truly show the caring and authentic sided of volunteers to the world, ultimately enticing others to join.
Vote for Lance and Ladder 34 here: https://www.klaviyo.com/ownedgrowthstories
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