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A different kind of business

Posted: May 19th, 2017 | Features, News, Top Stories | No Comments

By Doug Curlee | Editor at Large

Grantville company makes jewelry … out of bullets

Who would ever think someone would pay money for a necklace composed of a .50 caliber cartridge?

An increasingly growing number of people will, apparently.

Grantville business Bullets2Bandages repurposes ammo into gifts, including for wedding parties. (Bullets2Bandages.com)

That’s why Grantville-based Bullets2Bandages is now a fast-growing enterprise offering all kinds of military-oriented gifts and useful items that were once heavy military ammo.

It’s also why a number of lesser known, but equally important military-related charities and foundations get increasing amounts of donations from the company.

It all began several years ago when two Naval Academy graduates came home from combat overseas and finished their military commitment.

Eric Spalding and Cole Evans might think of things a little differently than most military people, but that’s understandable — they were both EOD officers, the people who disarm or blow up enemy bombs and improvised explosive devices.

One day, Evans posted a picture of a decommissioned cartridge that had fallen out of his old bulletproof vest. People started asking, “where can I get one of those?” Spalding and Evans figured, “well, why not from us?”

From there, it wasn’t a long step to figure out how to polish and shine old .50 caliber cartridge casings, and they were off to the races.

Spalding and Evans also enlisted fellow academy grad and former Marine officer Eric Montgomery as a partner to help oversee the Grantville production facility.

“It kind of surprised us at first — but we got over it,” Montgomery said. “The more we did it, the more different and diverse products we dreamed up and tried out. There are all kinds of used military items that can be converted into things people will buy, for any number of reasons. One of our biggest sellers now are beer bottle openers. The expansion of local craft breweries means there is again a demand for good old-fashioned beer bottle openers, and they’re not hard to make.”

It goes on from there.

Cufflinks made from the ends of bullets (Bullets2Bandages.com)

“One of the first markets for our cartridges was, interestingly, gifts from groomsmen and ushers at weddings. We can and do laser-engrave anything you want on the casing,” Montgomery said. “It beats buying your groomsmen a really ugly necktie they’ll never wear.”

There’s really a never-ending source of empty cartridges. The government likes to recoup a little money from all those bullets the military shoots in training every day. Montgomery says there are several auctions every year his company can bid on.

In sum, it’s a growing business that will probably continue to grow as long as America has a military and people who identify with that military.

The engraving machine that is used to customize .50 caliber bullets into gifts (Photo by Doug Curlee)

Part of that identity is giving back to people who served in America’s armed forces, which is why Bullets2Bandages has a charitable component to its business model.

“We donate about 15 percent of our profit to charities and foundations that don’t really register with the public, because they aren’t big, organized efforts,” Montgomery said. “Many of them don’t even have paid staff to go out and hustle money. Some of them are founded and operated by people still on active duty somewhere. They need the help, and we’re here to give them some.”

In fact, the first foundation the guys started contributing to is the Travis Manion Foundation.

That one is close to the heart. Travis Manion was Eric Spalding’s classmate and best friend at the Naval Academy. Manion fell to a sniper’s bullet in Iraq.

Some of the other charities Montgomery mentioned are the Marines Special Operations fund, 31 Heroes, the Marine Recon Foundations and the Wingman Foundation.

You may not have heard of them, but the people who benefit from their efforts certainly have.

The Bullets2Bandages product line expands all the time and the best way to see what they have is by visiting their website: Bullets2Bandages.org.

It’s worth a look — you’ll be surprised.

—Doug Curlee is Editor at Large. Reach him at doug@sdcnn.com.

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