- Associated Press - Monday, August 28, 2017

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) - Logan Barton wants to be the face of veteran-owned business.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports the Navy police officer based at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi is preparing for his and his family’s lives after he retires in seven years.

“I’m a big advocate for finding out how to set up for success after the military,” Barton said. “You’re either going to work for someone, go to college or start your own business.”

The 32-year-old petty officer 1st class started MadFitter, a fitness equipment and apparel company aimed at serving tactical athletes, in 2013 while stationed in Spain with his family.

Barton had been cross-training with CrossFit and attained his Level 1 training certification when he decided to start simple with a support wristband for weight training.

“Hero wraps are made from donated military uniforms,” he said. “We’ve received about 3,000 uniforms since. Each wrap we make and sell includes a (biography) card with the service member’s information and their Instagram.”

The wraps are made from all types of uniforms from first responders - from police officers, firefighters to retired or active military personnel. Bria Barton, his wife, said her mother does most of the sewing for their business.

By growing patronage through Facebook contacts and the cross-trained fitness community, Barton expanded his business to more than 150 products sold online. Kettle-bells designed to look like green grenades, T-shirts and leggings, mugs and phone cases have been added in recent years.

“The market is the CrossFit market, but it’s for tactical athletes or any first responder who might be training to save lives,” Barton said. “The whole point was to highlight military athletes, which is why there’s a military feel to everything.”

In 2016, Barton and business partner and fellow sailor Dennis Welle started ReadyMade Gear while they were both stationed in Guam. The online seller specializes in speed jump ropes.

“It’s just how he is,” Bria Barton said. “If he gets an idea of something, that’s it, we’re doing it.”

According to Veteran Owned Business, an online resource for small business owners who are veterans, there are more than 110,000 businesses in Texas that are at least partially owned and operated by a veteran. Texas’ businesses started by veterans make up 8 percent of the country’s overall number.

Barton said starting CrossFit training made him feel like he was capable of doing anything. That feeling of invincibility led him to dream beyond his military career.

“Veteran-owned businesses are really rising in the country. Every ‘Shark Tank’ episode features a veteran-owned business,” Barton said. “I want 10 successful businesses by the age of 50.”

In 2016, Texas A&M; University-Corpus Christi partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration for a Strategic Alliance Memorandum to “strengthen and expand small business development for local veterans.”

According to the SBA, veteran-owned small businesses can create two out of every three new jobs. The memorandum was intended to spur economic development through small business growth, entrepreneurial education and expand technical assistance.

Last September, the university’s Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center hosted “Boots to Business Reboot,” a series of seminars offered to veterans about starting and operating their own businesses.

“Research shows that a common character point to be a successful entrepreneur is being a veteran,” said Russell Franques, associate director of client relations. “Service suggests they will be successful. They have a mission, a plan, and they know how to execute it and go around obstacles. It’s the same thing we do in business.”

Agility, creativity and a “get the job done” attitude all play in entrepreneurship, he said.

“I have sat in a lot of these, and this has been the most interactive group I’ve seen. It’s because of their training,” Franques said.

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Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, https://www.caller.com


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