Global Shelter Systems, Inc. is off to a strong start.
Founded in January 2007, Global Shelter Systems (GSS) has quickly established ties with many movers and shakers in the multi-billion dollar global defense industry, with the design and commercialization of an innovative mobile defense structure product called BlastBloc
"We have a full steam ahead mentality," says GSS President and Chief Executive Officer, Stephanie Herron.
GSS has just finished a major funding drive by receiving $500,000 from the Kentucky Enterprise Fund
Full steam ahead, indeed.
"In order to compete for a multi-million dollar, multi-year defense logistics agency contract, we had to not only deliver 750 units of our product to various army sites for blast and ballistic testing, we also had to pass a variety of independent third party laboratory certifications," Herron says. "These tests are very expensive. So we immediately had to deploy the funds for those tests."
And to get these funds, friends were needed.
"We are a small business located in Ft Thomas, Kentucky," Herron says. "But we've entered into strategic partnerships with large national companies to be able to bid on global jobs."Ticona Engineering Polymers
, Molded Materials, Inc
; Vincent Industrial Plastics, Inc
; the Center for Manufacturing at the University of Kentucky
and JGB Enterprises, Inc
are some of GSS's key partners.
BlastBloc was originally the brainchild of Herron's husband, Burke Herron, a former Navy pilot with more than 2,500 hours of combat flight experience in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.
Herron says this literal "bird's eye view" gave Burke a clear view of the realities of the vulnerability of troop movements on the ground in dangerous locales.
As a compliment to Burke's military experience and vision, Stephanie brings other valuable perspectives and experience to the table.
After completing her undergraduate work at Northern Kentucky University
, she did graduate work at Texas A&M University
, before getting into investment banking and patent work for technology transfer.
"I hope one day I can give back to the university because they've done just a great job," she says.
The Herrons combined their backgrounds, and voila, BlastBloc was born.
BlastBloc is a highly structural, durable, protective shield for troops on the ground in dangerous, remote locations that allowed for real-time mobility.
Imagine a large-scale Lego set. Then imagine piecing it together into a structure.
Then fill in the spaces in between with whatever local materials available – mud, gravel, crushed rock – and it's solid, even more solid than before the spaces are filled.
"You can build a fortress out of it," Herron says.
Herron credits the ease of mobility as the aspect that gives BlastBloc its "sizzle."
Herron says the economy may curtail the purchase of some higher end weapons systems and R&D programs, but with clients like the State Department
and Department of Homeland Security
, she doesn't believe defense products, like BlastBloc, will be significantly affected.
"Sometimes, as you scale down personnel, you're actually going to need more protection," Herron says. "We just sold some product to a federal building in Pennsylvania, to put out as a barrier in front of the building."
Extend this to consulates, embassies and federal buildings in the US and abroad; as well as refugees who have lost their homes to natural disasters.
Ultimately, Herron says, protecting people is what motivates everyone at GSS to market their life-saving product.