From First Responder to Entrepreneur: How Dierdre Goodwin Brought Haltz Gloves to a Global Market – Mark Collier

2020 was a year of change, pivot, and resilience for small businesses across the globe. Many small businesses had to assess and recalibrate by developing creative ways to survive the sudden transformation in how everyday business was conducted. On today’s show, guest anchor Mark Collier, consultant for the UGA SBDC Dekalb, sits down with Dierdre Goodwin, owner of Haltz Gloves. Goodwin shares her story of meeting COVID challenges head-on and discusses her strategies for sustaining success during a very challenging year.

Transcription:

Mark Collier:
Welcome to ASBN, Deirdre.

Dierdre Goodwin:
Thank you, Mark, so very much.

Mark Collier:
All Right, listen, all inventors have a story and your story is very unique and very compelling. So, share with our ASBN and audience, the fantastic story behind Haltz Gloves.

Dierdre Goodwin:
So, I am a first responder here in Metro Atlanta, and in the course of doing my job, I was almost killed.

Mark Collier:
Oh, no.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And like with so many inventions, they say they come out of necessity.

Mark Collier:
Absolutely.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And that is exactly what happened with Haltz Gloves. So I went out looking for a product that could aid in my job while I was directing traffic, and I could not find it. I looked on some of the larger platforms. I went to distributors, so I decided to invent the product myself.

Mark Collier:
I love it.

Dierdre Goodwin:
Thank you.

Mark Collier:
All right. So, in terms of bringing that product to market, I know entrepreneurs, they encounter many challenges, testing the product, making sure it’s exactly up to their specifications. So, what was your most difficult challenge in bringing Haltz Gloves to market?

Dierdre Goodwin:
The most difficult challenge with bringing this product Haltz Gloves to market was first finding a manufacturer.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Dierdre Goodwin:
I think that we take for granted when we order things online, or we go to the store and we purchase items. We don’t understand how much work goes into the manufacturing process.

Mark Collier:
Absolutely.

Dierdre Goodwin:
So, in addition to that manufacturing, it was also trying to come up with a source of funds in order to fund the project to get it manufactured.

Mark Collier:
All right. Well, I know one of the things that many entrepreneurs nowadays, because the internet is such a global phenomenon, we now have a global marketplace. So what was your process for making your product a worldwide product, or as the industry says, a goal global strategy,

Dierdre Goodwin:
We were so proud to go global in 2018, but it took a lot of work. So Haltz Gloves was launched, June 23rd of 2016.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And we worked relentlessly to get this unknown product known to our end users who were first responders.

Mark Collier:
Right.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And so, for the next two years, we used 75% of our marketing money to contact that customer and to reach them. And finally, we were able to go overseas first to the United Kingdom and reach those customers there. So that was our first global distributor for Haltz Gloves.

Mark Collier:
Congratulation.

Dierdre Goodwin:
Thank you very much. And so now we’re worldwide.

Mark Collier:
Well, that’s fantastic. All great products have a go-to market strategy. And I know for future inventors out here, why don’t you kindly share your process for what it takes to go from a production to actually going global on the product.

Dierdre Goodwin:
I think one of the most important things when someone comes up with what they believe to be a good idea is to make sure someone else hasn’t come up with that same idea.

Mark Collier:
Absolutely.

Dierdre Goodwin:
So before we start to spend any money, let’s make sure that we use the US Patent Office and research to see if that product either exists already on the market, or is it dead docked? Does the person have a patent, but they haven’t brought it to market?

Mark Collier:
So, speaking the Patent Office, I mean, a lot of entrepreneurs and inventors, they struggle with that process. How was that process in terms of dealing with the Patent Office, in terms of submitting for the patent, having it reviewed, getting it approved? Kind of walk through a little bit of that process for me, please.

Dierdre Goodwin:
Well, believe it or not, that is a government office, but they are so helpful.

Mark Collier:
That’s good to know.

Dierdre Goodwin:
So you can either visit the Patent Office in person, or maybe not now during the pandemic, but you can visit that office in person, which is in Washington, DC, and they will assist, or they have individuals that you can call on the phone to assist you. So the forms and the processes are very long. People hire attorneys to do that, and we did that as well for assistance to make sure that we did the process correctly. So not only the patent process, but the trademarking for the actual logo that is on the product as to, so this product is patented and this product is trademarked.

Mark Collier:
Very good. Well, the one thing I do like about your product is that, as you said, if you’re out here directing traffic, or even if you own an automobile and you have a breakdown and you want to get out there and direct traffic around it, very, very defined X on the Palm for stop and the markings on the back of the glove here for go. And these are reflective up to how far?

Dierdre Goodwin:
1,250 feet. So, that may sound unbelievable, but one of our local police departments actually tested the glove themselves because they were not unsure of the glove, but they wanted to see its capabilities.

Mark Collier:
Sure.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And it’s actually been tested by that agency to go beyond 2000 feet with the naked eye.

Mark Collier:
Well, that’s great. What I’ve noticed, and I think I’ve shared this with you. I went out to the airport one day and saw the traffic guys at the airport actually using your product. So I thought that was phenomenal. So you’ve got a pretty extended reach. You reached a number of police departments and other first responders. What are your goals for the future? I know you’re looking at possibly US military because I can see almost an unlimited demand for this product across any sector that’s interested in safety.

Dierdre Goodwin:
Yes. So we have big goals for Haltz Gloves, and I always tell people we shoot for the ceiling.

Mark Collier:
All right.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And one of our big goals is we’re in the process right now of becoming a certified business for the federal government.

Mark Collier:
Great.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And so that would be a disadvantaged business or a minority based business, women-owned business, so that we can get that federal contract with the US military.

Mark Collier:
All right.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And they are currently already using our product, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and National Guard currently use Haltz Gloves.

Mark Collier:
That is exciting.

Dierdre Goodwin:
Yes. So we’re changing manufacturing to a compliant country so that we can get us a government.

Mark Collier:
Well, that’s right. If the US government is going to purchase, I know there has to be a component of the product that has to be made in the USA.

Dierdre Goodwin:
That is correct.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Dierdre Goodwin:
So, for people who are interested in possibly having contracts with the Department of Defense or any federal agency, 51% of your product has to be manufactured in the United States or a compliant country. And there is a master list of those compliant countries online.

Mark Collier:
All right. Well, I consider you a subject matter expert now in bringing a brand new product to market. So what is some of your best advice you would give to other entrepreneurs out here who are looking to bring a product to market? Give us some of your top tips on what to do and how to do it.

Dierdre Goodwin:
All right. So I think the top tip is be prepared to work extremely long hours and very hard. My best story about one of the things that I did with Haltz Gloves, was we as a first responder, I am a participant in the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety all over the country. And so, I was invited up to Tennessee, right at the border of Kentucky for what we call, Hands Across the Border. So at eight o’clock in the morning, I was at the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. Well, I also had an invite by the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for the same meeting at 6:00 PM. So-

Mark Collier:
So you commuted from Tennessee to Georgia within the stretch of a day?

Dierdre Goodwin:
Yes.

Mark Collier:
Whatever you have to do to make it work.

Dierdre Goodwin:
Absolutely. And so, hard work, being willing to do whatever it takes is one of the best things that I could tell anyone who is going to try to bring their product to market. And the second would be understanding with the help of the Small Business Association. They have educational classes for small businesses, understanding how to build their business from the ground up. And the Small Business Association is essential in being able to do that. And they offer a lot of educational courses. Some of them free, some of them at low costs.

Mark Collier:
All right. Well, that’s a great segue to my next question. The SBA and my organization, the UGA SBDC, hopefully we’ve been an integral part in helping you develop and grow your business. So, share the assistance that we’ve been able to provide and help you along the way.

Dierdre Goodwin:
Yes. So the SBA has been essential. When the idea or the concept of Haltz Gloves was first started back in 2014, I started taking Small Business Association classes. The fundamentals and understanding accounting and writing a business plan and making sure that I set the business up in the correct format.

Mark Collier:
Correct.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And so one of the things that we did was we set up the business as an LLC with the potential of becoming a full corporation at some point in the future.

Mark Collier:
All right, well, listen, all entrepreneurs have a great story and you’ve got many. So, share with me your most memorable story for Haltz Gloves for the viewers. I would love to hear it again.

Dierdre Goodwin:
I have a couple and it changes every single day, but I think if people have seen me around town, and they’ve seen the little pink car with the eyelashes, I think I’m going to go back to that one being my most memorable event. In 2018, I called up the largest breast cancer association in the world who is Susan G. Komen. Shooting again for the ceiling. And I thought I would love to turn Haltz Gloves into a pink glove and support breast cancer.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And so, in one phone call, I was on the phone with the director of the breast cancer organizations.

Mark Collier:
Well.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And they loved our mission and our purpose, which was my mom’s best friend away from breast cancer.

Mark Collier:
I’m so sorry to hear that.

Dierdre Goodwin:
And I wanted to make sure that we continue to fund the mission of trying to find a cure.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Dierdre Goodwin:
So we donated the proceeds of the pink Halts Gloves, which are absolutely adorable for Susan G. Komen in breast cancer, for our campaign was in 2019. And so, even as we entered into the pandemic, we have suspended those. And so that, Susan G. Komen… But hopefully this year in 2021, we can go back to our walks and runs. And this product again will be a worldwide product used in walks and runs for Susan G. Komen around the world.

Mark Collier:
Well, that’s great. I have seen you in your pink car. It is very eye-catching, and I’m sure they’re going to put a picture of it here in the B-roll footage so everyone can see it.

Dierdre Goodwin:
Wonderful, wonderful. It is cute.

Mark Collier:
Dierdre Goodwin, Haltz Gloves founder. This has been great information. Your story I’m sure will resonate with our viewers, and hopefully inspire future entrepreneurs to take that leap of faith. Hope to have you back in the future and you can share more of your success.

Dierdre Goodwin:
Thank you so very much, Mark. And it’s been a privilege to be here.

Mark Collier:
All right. Thanks.

Dierdre Goodwin:
All right. Thank you.


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