• PMI Faceshield (1987)

    What happened when I was forced into paintball.

    In 1985 I started doing some machining work for a startup company that made electronic air cleaners. I was working in my basement and eventually ended up making 1000 housings a month for them.

    After about a year I moved out into a real shop on the second floor over a welding shop. I had been working out of my basement for almost 10 years (another long story) and was excited to get out of there. I only had about 6 customers but this one air cleaner guy was 80% of my work.

    I had played paintball about 5-6 times and had gotten shot in the forehead and my girlfiend had been shot in the neck and passed out. Back then there was really no face protection.

    One day my big customer came and told me he had jobbed the whole product out to a single company instead of using multiple subcontractors. Right there I knew that if I didn't get more work fast I would be back to the basement in weeks.

    I had been making vacuum formed housings for the air cleaners so I knew all about it. I went to PMI, who at the time was in a little tiny shop near by, and told the owner that I could make them a full face plastic mask. He said “well let me see a prototype” so I went back and worked all weekend making a mold, then forming the parts and finally drilling the holes. On Monday I went back and he ordered 500 masks.

    We ended up making about 40,000 of those masks and the rest as they say is history. The air cleaner guy took his product to the other company. Before that happened I tested his product in controlled conditions and told him it didn’t do anything. He didn’t believe me because he was selling 1000 units a month and had a stack of testimonials. About a year later we had dinner and he told me he had to fire his main salesman for “severely overstating the product in his sales pitch”. After that his sales dropped into the hundreds and a year after that the company was bankrupt. That taught me a lesson because this guy was a millionaire businessman that just went down the tubes, DON”T SELL STUFF THAT DOESN’T WORK.