ZANE VOGEL, ADAM & NICHOLE HOLROYD, ALL 32 SPIRITUS SYSTEMS, ABERDEEN
America's strategy for war has changed. Before 9/11, volunteers would serve as soldiers, the U.S. would supplement its forces with a draft and soldiers would deploy for a year before their service was up. But America's wars in the Middle East have spanned nearly two decades. The forces are composed entirely of volunteers, now dubbed professional soldiers, who may spend years overseas deployed on multiple tours. While America's standard-issue military gear ranks among the best in the world, it hasn't been updated to adapt to the longer deployments in combat zones, where equipment tends to deteriorate or malfunction.
Aberdeen's Spiritus Systems, founded by lifelong friends Zane Vogel and Adam and Nichole Holroyd, is combating those issues by creating improved nylon tactical gear for law enforcement and military personnel.The three grew up in Rapid City, S.D., then reunited in North Carolina, where Vogel was stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division and the Holroyds had relocated for a job opportunity for Nichole at the local hospital.
Vogel and Adam Holroyd came up with the idea for Spiritus Systems while both were on tour in Afghanistan in 2014. Dissatisfied with their gear, they often modified equipment to fit their personal needs. After leaving the military two years later, Adam started creating gear in his attic at his home in Aberdeen, using an old sewing machine he bought on Craigslist.
"The parts creation, that's just all based on experience," Adam says. "Those things we knew we had trouble with or things that we modified ourselves, we just started translating that into the products."
Using American-made components in their products to comply with a federal law requiring the military to use domestic products, the trio scored with their flagship product, a tactical vest called the Micro Fight Chest Rig. "We just wanted to address one problem that we had, and it turns out that was a problem that a lot of people were facing," Vogel says. "We'd build them from hand and we'd get them up for sale on the website and sell out immediately." Now their website features more than 70 different products and they sell thousands of units annually.
In 2017, Spiritus leased its first 3,000-square-foot manufacturing site in Aberdeen. The next year, the company tripled its production space and hired 19 by the year's end. This year, the company is on track to double last year's sales and...