It's here! This week is when Fire Department Instructor Conference (FDIC), the world's largest firefighter training conference and exhibition, is held in Indianapolis.
FDIC is a huge event for MN8-Foxfire. It gives us the chance to meet thousands of firefighters and demonstrate how Foxfire products can help increase accountability and decrease disorientation, thereby keeping them safer on the job.
Today, we dropped our trailer off at the Indiana Convention Center ready for our booth setup on Wednesday (exhibits are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday). If you're attending FDIC, you won't want to miss the MN8-Foxfire Booth (#5571). We have our largest booth yet because we have so many things planned, including some BIG surprises! We can't reveal them all to you now, but we can give you you a sneak peek of where you can find MN8-Foxfire during FDIC and what will be happening at our booth:
- If you're attending one of the Vent-Enter-Search Hands on Training (H.O.T.) training classes on Monday or Tuesday, you may notice some tools illuminated by some familiar photoluminescent technology. These illuminating hooks and axes will be used by class participants during the training.
- Foxfire products will also be part of the Man vs. Machinery H.O.T. classes, led by Lt. Mark Gregory of FDNY and Lt. Pat Nichols of Boston FD. If you're attending one of these sessions, you're certain to notice helmets with Foxfire illuminating helmet bands and other illuminating accessories.
- Thursday, exhibits open at 1 p.m. at the Indiana Convention Center. At 2:30 p.m., we'll be holding a big "unveiling" event for a major product announcement. Everyone who attends this unveiling, held at our booth #5571, will receive a special prize.
- We'll be introducing a total of 5 new products/product lines for the very first time! Since last year, our product line has considerably expanded. In fact, all of our products will be on display/available for purchase during the show. We are very excited about making these new products available to you, our fellow firefighters. As always, you'll be able to view these products in the light and in the dark in our blackout tents so you can see the illumination for yourself. Several of the new products grew from suggestions from our fans and product users. If you aren't able to attend FDIC and see these new products for yourself, we'll be making them available to you and letting you know about them and how you can purchase them later in the week.
- Two of the new products are through collaborations with companies we are big fans of: Fat Ivan and Box Alarm Leather. We can't wait to let you know what these product are!
- Our booth will also be a hub of activity for some of our firefighting blogger friends. Rhett Fleitz, the Fire Critic, Willie Wines Jr., Iron Firemen and Dave Statter, Statter911 will all be spending considerable time at our booth, so be sure to stop by to meet them! Willie and Rhett will once again be helping with Foxfire product demonstrations, so you can ask them firsthand about their experiences using our products.
- You'll also find Mark Gregory and Pat Nichols, from PL Vulcan Fire Training Concepts spending time at the MN8-Foxfire booth.
That's it, our sneak peek of everything we have going on this week for FDIC. If you're attending the show, be sure to put us on our "don't miss" list! Will we see you there?
Here's the MN8-Foxfire trailer, parked in the convention center, and ready to go for the week!
The MN8 Foxfire caravan pulled into the Indianapolis Convention Center wednesday afternoon. We knew it would be a good show when we already had people waiting to talk to us before we even started unpacking our booth.
Later back at the hotel we met up with our celebrity spokesmen Lt. Rhet Flietz ( www.thefirecritic.com) and Capt. Willie Wines (www.ironfiremen.com)
They were very proud to be showing off their brand new kilts. I could not be left out so one of their friends who made the drive with them, Big Mike, of the Renegade Pipes and Drums offered me a kilt to wear.
We met up with the rest of our crew and headed out to the F.O.O.L.S. outdoor party. It was so great seeing several people in the crowd wearing their Foxfire illuminating t- shirts. Rhett and Willie were mobbed like celebrities, everybody wanted their pictures with them. These two giants in the fire service are the real deal. They don’t know a stranger. Every firefighter they meet is greeted as “hey brother.”
The first day of the show was great! A few of us got to the booth several hours before the start and we already had a constant stream of people. So many people were lined up that some had to come back two and three times just to get a demo. We completely sold out of all of our illuminating tetrahedrons and almost sold all of the FDIC winning T-shirts made by firefighter Donald Wedding on the first day.
Some of the greatest comments of the day were from the firefighters that bought our products last year and were now bringing their fellow firefighters over to show them the “magic” as some people called it.
That night we had a chance for our entire team to unwind at one of my favorite restaurants, Adobo. We rented an entire room and spent the night sharing laughs, dancing to the Mariachi bands, eating table-side made guacamole and drinks, lots of fresh made margaritas.
The next two days were just like the first two, action packed and a constant stream of distributors, firefighters, and others wanting to hang out with the MN8-Foxfire team and to learn more about how our advanced photoluminescent technologies can help increase visibility, reduce disorientation and improve accountability. We even were interviewed by Mike Brooks of CNN Headline News.
The last day, we signed up for our new booth for next years show and after speaking with the person at the conference, she made a comment, “So you guys are the ones we’ve been hearing about that has been so busy that you've been blocking the aisles with all your crowds. Outside of the special visit from the “Swamp People” and the bikini girls we were one of the busiest booths at the show."
When I look back on the show and what we have accomplished since last year, I tried to figure out how we could have gained so much traction so fast and the answer is simple. The reason is something we have talked about many times before. We are taking an innovative technology and making a difference in the safety of our brothers. Every dollar we make goes back into growing our mission of "By firefighters for firefighters." We are not a huge corporation that can spend millions of marketing dollars on big trade-show booths and full page advertisements. We are just a bunch of firefighters trying to look out for each other.
Congratulations, Donald Wedding
Winner of the Foxfire Illuminating T-shirt Design Contest!
Today is the first day of exhibits at FDIC in Indianapolis. Our team is excited about meeting up with lots of firefighters over the next few days. Exhibit open at 1 p.m. today and everything at the MN8-Foxfire booth is nearly ready to go.
As promised, we are also announcing the winner of our T-shirt design contest today! You may recall that we ran a contest a couple of months ago asking for designs that would make a great iluminating T-shirt. The only requirement was that it have something to do with firefighting and be a design others would want to wear on a shirt. We received lots of great entries, thanks so much to everyone who entered and the great creativity out there! However, there could be only one winner, and so we selected the following design as the winner of our 2012 FDIC T-shirt design contest:
The design was created by Donald Wedding, a career firefighter for the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia; currently assigned to Ladder 1. He is also a technician with the Falmouth Volunteer Fireman's Association located in South Stafford, Va.
Following in the footsteps of his older brother, dad and grandfather, Donald (Donnie) is a third generation firefighter with 17 years of experience. He is also a certified Instructor 3 for the Virginia Dept. of Fire Programs, teaching locally and throughout the state.
Art is another one of Donald’s passions. At an early age, Donnie was enrolled in special arts programs. After he became a volunteer firefigher, his artistic abilities were quickly noticed. He helps create patches and logos for fire departments throughout the country. To contact Donnie about artwork, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's some images of the the T-shirts, we think they turned out great!
We'll be selling the shirts at FDIC this week. They're also available through our webstore, so if you want to purchase a shirt with Donald's winning design you can go to: www.mn8foxfire.com
Let us know what you think about how they turned out!
We’re packed and headed out today for the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis. We’ve got our blackout tent ready (so people can see the illumination from our products in the dark), we’ve got firefighters who have used the products ready to demonstrate and talk about them and we’ve got lots of products available for purchase. We’ll also be announcing the winner of our T-shirt design contest, talking about our Boots on the Street program, sharing news about some collaborations we’ll being telling you about soon and talking about our upcoming products. If you’re going, be sure to visit us at the MN8-Foxfire Booth #3026 of the Indiana Convention Center to learn more about how Foxfire illuminating products help firefighters reduce disorientation, improve accountability and increase visibility.
You might even find a couple of “celebrities” hanging around our booth.
That’s right, Lt. Rhett Fleitz of the Fire Critic blog (FireCritic.com) and Captain Willie Wines Jr. of the Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen blog (IronFiremen.com) will be spending time at our booth when they’re not signing autographs or posing for photos.
Seriously, our entire MN8-Foxfire team has the highest respect for Rhett and Willie. They are truly good friends and great supporters of fellow firefighters and the firefighting industry. I’ve been greatly touched that they’ve become huge fans of Foxfire products and supporters of our goals of keeping our fellow firefighters safe.
It seems like we’ve been friends for a very long time. But it’s only been a year. In fact, our friendship began a year ago-at FDIC. Today, I’d like to share that story with you.
We stalked Rhett. Well, sort of. Here’s what happened: Sometime before FDIC, we’d contacted Rhett about doing a product review of our Foxfire illuminating helmet band. Keep in mind that MN8-Foxfire had just been launched months before last year’s FDIC and at that time our only products were the Foxfire illuminating helmet band and the Foxfire illuminating do-it-yourself coating kit. About a week before FDIC, Rhett published his review of the helmet bands and it was published on his blog.
His review was very positive, you can read it here
After arriving in Indianapolis, the night before FDIC began we decided to find Rhett. As you probably know, he’s big into social media. So Amy, who heads up marketing and public relations for MN8-Foxfire and I started tracking Rhett’s whereabouts via Twitter and Foursquare. When he checked into a downtown Indianapolis BBQ restaurant, I headed over to meet him and thank him for his recent review. Sure enough, I found him along with Captain Willie and Dave Statter (statter911.com), another firefighter industry blogger. And the friendships began.
In the year since FDIC 2011, Rhett, Willie and I have spent a lot of time together. When we unexpectedly didn’t have enough staffing at last year’s Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, Willie lent a hand and helped work at the MN8-Foxfire booth. With his credibility and reputation in the fire industry, it was an honor to have him work with us. Willie also helped us “work the booth” at Fire Rescue International in Atlanta last year. Rhett was also at both of these shows, talking up our products in between his Fire Critic gigs.
I guess we help each other out. When Willie and Rhett called me last year asking if MN8-Foxfire would be willing to donate helmet bands to the climbers of a 9/11 stair climb they were participating in, we immediately agreed, creating some specially designed helmet bands specifically for that event.
During the past year, Willie, Rhett and I also did some traveling together, heading to New York City twice, and visiting numerous fire stations while we were there. On our last New York Trip, we teamed up to establish a joint fundraiser to raise money for two injured firefighters from FDNY Rescue 2, a station we’d visited on our first trip.
Rhett and Willie also visited the MN8-Foxfire headquarters in Cincinnati a couple of times during the past year. On one of these visits the three of us trained in a flashover simulator in our turnout gear, along with catching a Cincinnati vs. W. Virginia football game together.
In just one year, we’ve shared too many experiences and fun times to share in just one blog post. Bottom line is that these are really great “brothers” and two men I’m honored to call good friends. If you haven’t met them before, I hope you get the chance talk with them at FDIC or some other time in the future, because they all around great guys who are worth getting to know. If you have any experiences you’d like to share about Rhett and Willie, we’d love to hear those too!
This morning, our team held a meeting to talk about next month's FDIC (Fire Department Instructor's Conference), to be held in Indianapolis. (http://www.fdic.com)
MN8-Foxfire will be at FDIC (Booth #3026 of the Indiana Convention Center). We'll have our blackout tent with us, where you can actually see the illuminating "glow" emitted from Foxfire illuminating products in a dark environment. You'll also get to talk to firefighters who use the products and can give real examples of how Foxfire products have helped them increase accountability, improve visbility and decrease disorientation in the dark and smoke.
You'll have the chance to see and touch the Foxfire illuminating products in person and they'll be available for sale.
We're also looking forward to the announcement of the winner of our illuminating T-shirt design contest at FDIC. We had a lot of firefighters submit some terrific design ideas. We'll be choosing one to print on a T-shirt using the same illuminating technology utilized in the rest of our products. The winning design will be on sale with the rest of our products at FDIC.
If you visit our booth, you may also see a couple of "celebrities." Both the Fire Critic (Rhett Fleitz) http://www.firecritic.com and Captain Willie Wines Jr. of the Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen blog (http://www.ironfiremen.com) will be spending time in the Foxfire booth, talking with fellow firefighters. Captain Willie helped us out in demonstrating and talking about his experiences using Foxfire products at a couple of firefighting conferences last year.
During our meeting today, we were talking about the many activities occuring during FDIC in addition to the training events. For example, the Battle of the Bands, the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Stop, Drop, Rock & Roll, the 5-K and more.
Our team members haven't determined our exact itineraries, but we are hoping to do as much as we can and meet and talk with lots of firefighters during the event. If you're someone we've been interacting with online, we hope you will stop by and visit us at our booth so we can meet in person! And if you've been wanting to see what all the buzz has been about regarding our products, stop by and check them out for yourself in person!
Let us know if you're planning to attend FDIC and what activities you'll be attending! We're looking forward to it!
Until then, stay safe!
Meet Kelly of MN8 Foxfire.
Kelly is an illumination expert, give her a call at (513)761-7614 if you have any questions, comments or if you need help purchasing any of our advanced photoluminescent products.
In the next few days MN8-Foxfire will be celebrating our one year anniversary. In our brief first year of operations, our products are now being used by over 10,000 firefighters across the globe. We all knew that this concept was going to be big but none of us expected us to be in this position after only a year.
This concept started with a simple silicone helmet band that was made with a rare advanced photoluniescent technology. The first prototype of this unique helmet band sat on my helmet for over a month collecting dust before I really had the chance to see what it could do. The first fire I made with this band, I was on the ladder and was assigned to pull ceiling. It was like any other typical fire, dark and smoky and we could barely see each other . As I was opening up the ceiling, I felt something tugging on my helmet. Turning around to see what was grabbing my helmet, I saw the engine crew looking at me in amazement as they tried to figure out what was causing this bright green glow to emanate from my helmet. I “encouraged” them to stop grabbing my helmet and start putting the wet stuff on the red stuff. Once at rehab, I started to notice a crowd forming around me and guys asking me if I was the “glowing green guy”. Once I explained what it was and how it could help with accountability and reduce disorientation, guys started grabbing for their wallets to purchase. As we rode back to the fire station, I started to think about what this incredible technology could do to help our fellow firefighters if it could be properly developed, marketed and distributed. I knew I owed it to my fellow firefighters to bring this idea to fruition. This could not be a part time job or hobby, it needed focus, attention and my undivided attention. I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes that is promiately displayed in a metal sign above my desk: “Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat”; fortune favors the bold. It was time to be bold and not tip toe into this opportunity. I needed to jump in with both feet and thats exactly what our team and I did. In the middle of a horrible recession with reduced budgets and everybody saying that this was too risky, we launched a concept, a concept that not even I expected to blossom this quickly or robustly.
A few weeks later we started MN8-Foxfire in the back of a friends garage. In a few months we moved to a low-rent strip mall and last month we opened our new headquaters in a beautiful new office.
The first day of MN8-Foxfire’s official operations was at the 2010 Ohio Fire & EMS Expo. An expo created by a couple of fellow firefighting entrapeneurers, Mark Zambito and Chis Craig from the Columbus, Ohio area. It was so special finishing up this same show last week and reminescing on what we have learned since exhibiting at this same show a year ago.
I knew our bold decision was going to pay off. From that first show in Columbus, Ohio, it was time to take the show on the road. Over the first few months I personally visited over 50 fire departments from coast to coast, Hawaii and even Russia. I shared how our products can improve visiability, increase accountability of tools and personell and reduce disorientation by increasing positional orientation. A few months later we exhibited at FDIC in Indianapolis. We were interviewed by two news channels and had one of the busiest booths at the show of 42,000+ attendees. After FDIC we were hit by a tidal wave of new sales and new distributors. Several national and local shows followed over the next several months and every month since then our sales and new distributors continue to grow at a break-neck pace. None of this would be possible without the help from my fellow firefighteing brothers and friends.
The greatest pride over this last year has not been the sales, accolades or partnerships, it is opening my inbox or recieving phone calls and hearing stories from my fellow firefighters about how this product has made their job both more effective and safer. Take some time to read an example of one of these stories about how our helmet bands helped a crew in a flashover.
Accountability Case Study
I am filled with both awe and pride how what started as a novel idea has grown into a movement that is literally changing the way in which we fight fire. As I look back on this year, I am humbled by the distributors, business partners, departments and firefighters that have put their faith and confidence in us. Most of all I am proud that what I learned in the marines and the fire service holds true whether it be taking the fight to the enemy, battling a stubborn structure fire or running a business, FORTES FORTUNA ADIUVAT !
It was only fitting the the Firehouse Expo was held in Baltimore during the hottest day on record. 106 degrees with a heat index in the 120’s. With all the time spent at the booth and talking to people about Foxfire’s advanced photoluminescent illuminating technology at trade-shows, I never have the opportunity to attend the various show’s live fire training classes. However, this show made me feel like I had taken part in live fire training because walking to the hotel with a 120 heat index sure felt like I was taking part in a live burn!
During set up I met up with my good friends Rhett Fleitz www.firecritic.com , Willie Wines http://ironfiremen.com/ and my new friend Kevin Totten of the Salem FD.
We had plans to attend a nice relaxing dinner until we found out about my new favorite pastime, bikini bull-riding. PBR (Professional Bull Riding) has a cowboy themed bar and let’s just say this place was designed for firefighters like us!!! The bar is located in an area called Baltimore Live. It’s several street blocks cordoned off with outdoor stages and bars. This place had the red carpet rolled out for firefighters and could not have been more welcoming to all of us that had called Baltimore home for the next few days. Willie was a hit at PBR with his 10 gallon cowboy hat and Yosemite Sam mustache. It seemed like we had a crowd of the girls that worked at the PBR surrounding us all night. Being the gentlemen we firefighters are, we graciously invited them to stop by and see us the following day at the expo.
The expo started the next day and the Foxfire-MN8 booth was slammed. I had a very special guest helper on the first day of the show, my younger brother Adam. It was so great to share the pride of helping heroes be better heroes with my brother Adam. The excitement in seeing him “work the crowd” brought a tear to my eye as I thought about how proud our late grandfather would have been seeing both of us follow in his footsteps. Our grandfather spent many days on the road at trade shows as he built his business in to a very successful enterprise. It was always my dream to follow in his footsteps. He passed away last year at 96 years old and I think of him often when I’m away from my family building this business.
We had a great crowd from start to finish every day. What was so impressive was all the people that had already heard about us and our products that help increase visibility, improve the accountability of tools and personnel, and reduce disorientation. Several people that had seen us at FDIC and Harrisburg were bringing their colleagues over to experience our illuminating technology first-hand in our black-out tent. We also were humbled by the numerous stories that firefighters shared with us that had used our products over the last several months. One of the best guests to our booth were several of the cowgirls we met the previous night at PBR!
The next day I was honored to have the Iron Fireman himself, Capt. Willie Wines lend me a hand by working the MN8-Foxfire booth. This man has a warrior’s heart and would do anything for his fellow dragon slayers. His credibility and reputation in the fire industry are above reproach and I was deeply touched to hear him talk with pride how Foxfire’s products have helped him and his crew increase positional orientation and accountability. He did a great job helping in the booth and I certainly hope to have his assistance at future shows. That night Rhett, Willie & I had the chance to enjoy some great steak and watch Willie drink his first ever glass of champagne.
The last day of the show saw even bigger crowd and incredible sales. It seems no matter how many brochures and products we bring we always run out. We had a special guest helping in the booth on the last day. It was no other than one of our favorite cowgirls from PBR. She was a quick learn and for some reason more of the firefighters enjoyed going in to the black-out tent we her rather than Willie and I...
Overall the show was a great success. The buzz is growing by leaps and bounds. We are in the middle of negotiations with some of this nation’s largest and most legendary departments. I don’t think any of us expected that this journey would take off this fast, but we are prepared to meet the rush. We could not be more excited to illuminate the firefighting industry !
The 2011 Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis last week was a huge success. My travel to Indy Tuesday night had me on a mission to meet the infamous Fire Critic blogger. Thanks to the power of Twitter and Foursquare I was on the hunt to locate the Fire Critic to introduce myself and thank him for his feedback from his recent review on our helmet bands: http://firecritic.com/2011/03/product-review-foxfire-illuminated-firefighter-helmet-bands/
Well, I found the Fire Critic (Rhett Fleitz) along with fellow bloggers Willie Wines Jr. ( http://ironfiremen.com/ ) and Dave Statter ( statter911.com ) where you would expect to find any self-respecting Virginian to be, at one of Indy's only BBQ joints. We swapped stories about firefighting and where to find the best beer in Indianapolis. The evening wrapped up at a brew-house where I introduced the three bloggers to a website that rates their websites. The rest of the evening was occupied with the three Internet moguls teasing each other over who had the highest rated website.
Wedesday morning started out bright and early as I prepared for my interview with the attractive Kjersten Ramsing of Fox59. Willie and Rhett also showed up to make sure that Kjersten would not be left in a dark room with me by myself. See link: ( http://www.fox59.com/news/wxin-firefighters-convention-comes-to-indianapolis-20110324,0,7662001.story ) The interview went great and they got some great video of our products.
Next, it was off to the convention center to start setting up the booth. After setting up the booth, Foxfire was featured in the second newscast of the day, with Indy ABC 6's Julie Pursley. Here's a recap of that story: http://www.theindychannel.com/news/27293757/detail.html
Later that evening, I had dinner with Nick Caliguri, a fellow firefighter from the Cincinnati area who has developed the best product I have seen in a long time to replace the door wedge www.fativan.com It was a great meal at my favorite Indianapolis restaurant, Adobo that included fresh guacamole, ceviche, a bacon-fig-vanilla specially tequila and lots of fresh margaritas. The evening finished up at Indy's great cigar lounge Nicky Blaines with some nice cigars and more discussion about firefighting entrepreneurship.
Thursday morning Team Foxfire arrived and the show started with a bang. Our 10x20 booth was one of the most crowded booths at the entire show. We were slammed from an hour before the show started until one hour after closing. We were deeply humbled by both the volume of people and the positive feedback on how our products are transforming firefighting. Some of the highlights of day one were being interviewed on the Firefighter Netcast http://ironfiremen.com/2011/03/statter-naked-tons-of-pics-and-more-from-fdic/ and having our neighbor booths thank us for having our crowds so big that they spilled in to their booths. Team Foxfire finished the evening back at Adobo's for more fresh guacamole and incredible food/ libations.
Friday morning started out the same as Saturday - busy, busy, busy. We had the chance to talk to some of the biggest distributors in our industry and let's just say you will soon be able to find Foxfire at most of the major firefighting retailers. The crowds were so large that we actually ran out of brochures and had to order more to be delivered Saturday. Towards the end of the day I was starting to get dizzy from all the excitement when I realized that I’d forgotten to eat both breakfast and lunch (quite a feat if you know me). The day ended up with a great bottle of champagne, shrimp cocktail and the largest steak I have ever seen at Indy's famous St. Elmo's.
Saturday’s traffic was just as busy as the pervious days, none of us had the chance to actually visit the other booths but the feedback we received was that we had one of the largest and most consistent crowds of the show http://firecritic.com/2011/03/fdic-recap-part-i-networking-and-the-9-11-memorial-stair-climb/.
In preparing for the show, we brought three times the amount of brochures and products to sell than we thought we’d ever need. Turns out, we gave out all the brochures (plus the extra we had fedex'd) and sold out of just about all of our products! We knew FDIC would be the biggest show of the year but I don't think any of us would have ever dreamed an idea that was hatched a year ago at this 2010 FDIC show would have ever ended up as such an illuminating success!