Cool back stories of just a few of the 3 million successful veteran-owned businesses

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Serving in the military is a tough calling that requires mental toughness, courage, passion, commitment, and the ability to do what it takes to get the job done. Those who serve our country put others before themselves, and we are truly blessed to be able to count on our heroes in uniform. The skills that one develops while in the military prepares them well for the role of business owner.

Former as well as active service members and their families give so much to our country, so I want to take this opportunity to highlight and list some veteran-owned businesses.

Chrome .50-caliber Bottle Breacher.

A bottle opener shaped like ammunition from a .50-caliber bullet given to former navy SEAL Eli Crane by his younger brother inspired what is now a very successful business known as Bottle Breacher. A few years after receiving the gift, Crane painted the bottle opener black and imprinted the logo from the fictional Marvel character, “The Punisher,” in white. Crane saw immediate demand for his new product after his colleagues began offering him money to make sets for them.

The demand for the unique bottle opener was his “aha moment,” or as Crane says, “That’s when the lightbulb went off for me.”

While still on active duty, Crane started making the bullet-shaped bottle openers in his garage and sold them online from an Etsy shop set-up by his wife. The hard work and sacrificing has paid off as Bottle Breacher is now a mutli-million dollar company.

The Bottle Breacher can be found at the company’s website.

Crossfit Natural Grip product line by Ashley Drake.

Ashley Drake is an active duty captain in the Army Corp of Engineers. Ashley is also the founder of Natural Grip, an innovative hand protection product that protects ones grip and palm during workouts.

After being unable to find a product that would protect her small hands when she worked out, Ashley’s husband made her a grip that fit and protected her hand during intense workouts. The creation spawned what is now the Natural Grip. The grip is made of high quality materials that allows it to withstand many workout sessions and are handmade to fit based off of the users ring finger size. The grip attaches at the wrist using either wrist straps, athletic tape, or the company’s Goat Tape. If one doesn’t know their ring size, there is a helpful chart on the company website.  

Ashley was confronted with a problem and found a solution that not only helped her but also resulted in a business that she can continue to build after her military service ends. The Natural Grip can be found at the company’s website.

Fed Ex: Mediocre idea on paper that took flight.

Frederick (Fred) Smith Marks wrote a term paper for a high school economics class that outlined his radical, never-been-done idea for a company that would guarantee overnight delivery of small, time-sensitive goods, such as replacement parts and medical supplies, to major U.S. cities. Fred was given a grade of C for his work, which was part of what motivated him to realize his dream. Shortly after college graduation, Fred enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he saw action in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. During his military career, Smith served two tours in Vietnam, which included flying over 200 ground support missions. Smith was honorably discharged at the rank of captain with numerous honors, including a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.

Upon returning to the United States, Smith decided to revisit the idea he had written about in his economics paper. After preparing by purchasing the controlling interest of an aircraft maintenance company owned by his then father-in-law, he was ready to officially launch Federal Express, (now FedEx). What began in 1971 as a small transportation and logistics business that many were convinced would fail is now an international multi-billion-dollar company that changed the way that we ship packages. 

It took a sailor to design the perfect boat shoe. Sperry Shoes, founded by a veteran.

Some other companies that were founded by military veterans include RE/MAX, founded by Air Force veteran Dave Liniger; Sperry Shoes, which was founded by Navy veteran Paul A. Sperry; Walmart, founded by Army veteran Sam Walton; GoDaddy, founded by Marine Corps veteran Bob Parsons; Kinder Morgan, which was cofounded by Army veteran Richard Kinder; and USAA, which was founded by a group of Army officers.

These companies represent just a few of the estimated 3 million veteran-owned businesses in existence today. These veterans sacrificed their lives for us and continue to sacrifice as they build their companies as well as help our economy.


Raymond, New Hampshire native and former Manchester resident Brian Chicoine is co-founder of UrbanRebel 1636™, a Rhode Island-based art and design way of life start-up. A 1990 graduate of West High School, Brian attended college in the city before moving to Rhode Island to complete his undergraduate degree. Brian’s original plan was to “learn and leave” but fell in love with both his now wife, Jackie, and the state so decided to stay beyond graduation.

After they were married, Brian and Jackie lived in New Hampshire for about five and a half years, during which time their two boys were born. Brian and Jackie then returned to Rhode Island with their two boys and eventually started UrbanRebel 1636™. Brian and Jackie have recently realigned the company’s strategy and are developing an exciting new product line that will be introduced in time for the 2017 re-launch.

 Brian has merged his passion for entrepreneurship and innovation with his love of new and bold ideas to bring the reader a fresh perspective on the people and products helping drive the economy. Brian and Jackie live in Providence with their two boys and their cat.  

About Carol Robidoux 5820 Articles
Journalist and editor of, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.