Jacksonville will be making an appearance at this year’s Olympics in a big way. Every member of Team USA, about 800 athletes, will be receiving products from Jacksonville-based Survival Straps.
Survival Straps is a start-up based in Ponte Vedra Beach. It produces bracelets, key fobs and assorted gear, all made from military issued parachute cord.
Melissa Ross spoke with Survival Straps CEO Kurt Walchle on his journey from a home-based business to Sochi.
Walchle began his business in 2007 and has now graduated to a 13,000 square foot warehouse located by Mickler’s Landing and Florida State Road A1A.
Survival Straps started out selling plain bracelets until it obtained collegiate licensing and began producing team-themed gear and much more. The company has also donated almost $1 million to groups such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the Navy Seal Foundation.
Now the next step on the company’s journey is Russia for the Olympics.
“We called up the U.S. Olympic Committee and told them our story, that what we’ve done for the troops and we’re an American made product and they loved it, they absolutely loved it,” he said. “We said, you know we’re a small company but you know we want to go for it.”
Survival Straps does not outsource any materials or labor. All products are hand-made in Ponte Vedra.
The wearing of Survival Straps by Team USA athletes will ensure each member has an American-made product to wear at the games.
The issue was first raised during the summer 2012 games after it was revealed that the official uniforms worn by U.S. athletes were manufactured in China, and more recently after revelations that this year’s snowboarding team will compete in uniforms manufactured in several foreign countries.
The Olympic Survival Straps are red, white and blue with the Olympic logo. Team USA Olympic and Paralympic athletes will receive gear tags, badge holders and a limited-edition Team USA logo Survival Straps bracelet.
“It makes us very, very proud to start as a little home-based business and then to build it up to where now you know Olympic athletes are wearing our stuff,” said Walchle.
Survivals Straps, including the U.S. Olympic Team Collection, can be purchased at the company’s website, SurvivalStraps.com.