RTFU

Build

By
Updated: June 18, 2012

When I entered West Point in 1994 one of the first things I had to memorize is the Purpose of the United States Military Academy, which at the time read:

 

To educate and train the Corps of Cadets so that each Graduate shall have the attributes essential to professional growth as an officer of the Regular Army and to inspire each to a lifetime of service to the nation.”

 
Cheesy or not, I have kept that with me to this day.  When I made the difficult decision to leave the military in September of 2003, I was met with immediate success.  I performed well in graduate school and better still in my follow-on corporate career, but yet I felt that I was not living up to my pledge to continue to serve the nation.  This lack of service left me empty and if the theory that I have any of it left is true, there was a significant void in my soul.

As I sit here on the eve of Ranger Up’s 6th birthday, I do not want to look back at where we came from, as I did on our 4th birthday, but instead look forward to what we are going to accomplish.

Ranger Up filled that void that was growing inside me and I realize how fortunate I am that I stumbled upon this idea for what thus far has been my life’s work.  I’m also cognizant, after spending time with guys like Michael Schlitz, Karl Monger and Mike Judd how few are able to find meaning in their lives again after service.  A life without purpose for a motivated, type A is a dangerous thing.  Unemployment, jobs without meaning, and a lack of support from like-minded people quickly lead many veterans to depression and in the worst case to suicide.

Yet, while these problems plague our community, the veteran population is succeeding in a way that others cannot.  We have more entrepreneurs than any other population.  We thrive in environments riddled with stress, where flexibility is a necessity, and where we have to exert ourselves beyond what is human to succeed.  And this is where I believe Ranger Up’s future lies.

 

Entrepreneurship and the Building Foundation of America

 I believe real Americans create.  We build.  There are a lot of ways to get rich and I will never deny a person any means of feeding his or her family, but the premise of our society is creativity, hard work, and building a “new world”.  There is something magical about building a product, offering it to the consumer at a fair price, and seeing their appreciation for that product.  I want to help more of you do that.   As such Ranger Up is going to be reaching out to friends like Holly McNamara and Nick Starling and over the next couple of years we’ll be building our network and developing our own version of the famously successful  Y-Combinator out in Silicone Valley.  The purpose of this endeavor will be to create a startup engine for Veterans.  We’ll house you, teach you, and at the end, if you have the right stuff, we’ll invest in your business and volunteer for your boards.  Our target for the first class is 2015.

I have several reasons for wanting to start this endeavor, and I want you to understand all of them.

1)      I want to elevate veterans.  We are a smaller and smaller percentage of the population and as the gap between us and civilians continues to widen, fewer and fewer people will assist us.  We need to stop asking for help from people and we need to aggressively take control of the situation.  We need to help our own or in short order, no one will.

2)      I want you in the one percent. One percent of the population controls almost 50% of the wealth in our country.  Rather than bitch about it and occupy shit, I want to add more veterans to that exclusive club.  Money is power in our nation and anyone who tells you differently is selling something.  We have life experience that other people will never have and with experience comes wisdom.  I fully believe to improve our nation and reduce corruption, the men and women in some of these power seats need to have carried a rifle and manned a post.  We aren’t going to ask for them to help us, we’re going to dominate them in business and leave them no choice.

3)      Veterans hire veterans.  Americans are afraid of veterans.  We all have PTSD and kill babies, so it’s understandable.  A new veteran “Uber-Class” of entrepreneurs means more opportunities for veteran employment.  A quick example:

Ranger Up is a small company.  We have 12 full-time employees and seven part-time employees.  Our primary screen printer, a veteran-owned company told us that they employ 7 people to print our apparel.  Add another person or two for our secondary and tertiary printers.  That’s 9 people employed by other companies to support our printing.  We employ two people to make our signs.  The people that make our t-shirts require six American employees to create the fabric and manage our account (the second largest in NC).  Estimates from our office supplies and shipping supplies vendors estimate another person is necessary to manage our account and ship our supplies.  We are the 5th largest post office customer in RTP.  They estimate two postal employees are necessary to manage our account.  UPS did not provide an estimate, but we’ll assume 1-2 employees to handle our volume as we are at their top listed tier.  In total 34 full-time employees and seven part-time jobs exist because of Ranger Up and that isn’t including the vendors of vendors (ink and machines for the screen printers, for example).

I realize 41 jobs isn’t all that much in the big scheme of things, but these are jobs that did not exist before that came to be in the worst economy we’ve ever seen, and we’re just getting warmed up with 67% growth this year alone.   Also, despite what any politician says, this is exactly 41 jobs more than whoever gets elected President will “create”.

4)      I believe in you and believe you will make us a lot of money.  Sorry if you expected all loves, hugs, and cuddles, but we work our asses off here and we value the money we’ve earned, so there is a selfish component to it.  We have many options of where to invest the fruits of our labor.  Mutual funds and stock speculation are cool and all, but I believe the best bet in this country is the Vetrepreneur.

5)      Paying it forward.    I want to create a system where you come in, learn how to succeed, succeed, and then come back and reinvest in the community.  We live by this model having donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity in our six years.  Percentage-wise, I’ve yet to meet a small business that sacrifices the profitability that we do in order to help veterans.  We’d especially like to thank Soldiers’ Angels, Gallant Few, and Hire Heroes for providing our fullest confidence that every dollar we send is well managed.

6)      Because Fuck Them.  One of the things Ranger Up has done that surprised me is to show me how many amazing civilians there are that have never served, but are just impressive Americans and great people.  I’ve been blessed to be helped by so many great minds and entrepreneurs in the civilian world, and I can’t thank the fans who haven’t served enough for their support.  But then there’s the other half – who look down on our service, our intelligence, and our accomplishments.  We’re the sheep, they’re the wise ones feeling sorry for us.  I know it’s childish and stupid, but the same chip on my shoulder that drives me personally, wants to see military veteranship (I just made that word up) become the primary means to success.  I want our response to these assclowns to change.  I don’t want you guys battling it out with spoiled hippie trolls on Facebook.  I want those trolls occupying your company’s front lawn because you won’t hire their asses.

I want to end this by saying our first “class member” has just graduated.  My longtime friend, business partner, and employee Kelly Crigger is setting off to start his own firm alongside a civilian friend, serial entrepreneur, and patriot, Steve Spiro.  They are creating 100% Veteran “Geek Squad”.  In only two months, they’re making huge strides and there is no doubt in my mind that they are going to hire thousands of veterans over the next decade.  While it was truly sad to see such a great teammate move on, this is exactly what I want to happen.    I want veterans to identify opportunities, have the confidence to trust that they have the skills to conquer them, and then get after it and change the world.  I have no doubt that Kelly and Steve will give back significantly to the military community and the nation and I am excited to be able to support them in this endeavor.

I said from day one that Ranger Up will never be about apparel.  It never will be.  It’s about you.  It’s about a lifetime of service to the nation.  It’s about leading the way.  I’m publicly telling you what the next chapter is going to be about.  I hope you like the vision.

As always, thank you for letting me and the crew live the dream.  We’re gonna keep on plugging.

 

RLTW,

 

Nick Palmisciano

CEO, Ranger Up

 

Comments

comments

21 Comments

  1. Mr. Twisted

    June 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Very well said, and I consider it a privilege to even write a few articles for you guys.

    That being said, I am willing to do whatever you need to help this organization grow. Keep kicking ass and I will be here to assist in any way I can.

  2. evil

    June 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    …You had me at “DERKA DERKA DERKA”…

  3. Gene

    June 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    You guys rock keep up the great work!!!!

  4. Joe Varg

    June 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Nick,

    I am not a veteran, I am a 911 Dispatcher and a former Professional Firefighter, but I stand behind all of you and appreciate all you and your brothers and sisters in arms have done for us. We enjoy all the things we have because of your committment and sacrifices. I am glad to have watched RangerUp grow over these past 6 years and can not wait to see the future of this amazing company that is run by even more amazing people. Best of luck to you and your endeavors.

  5. Karl Monger

    June 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Privilege to be mentioned in the same paragraph as these heroes. What you guys do is fun, inspirational and usually makes too much darn sense. Excited to see where the future takes us. RLTW

  6. Raul Felix

    June 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Awesome. I’ve seen too many entrepreneur type scholarships or programs targeted at college students and even college drop outs. Very few thinking about veterans in general. I would read all these profile on young entrepreneurs and they would always talk about college students. It left me wondering, where are the young veteran entrepreneurs I can relate to. While I don’t have my own business yet, its something the I strive to start in a few years. I’m glad you’re doing this.

  7. Marc Danziger

    June 18, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Nick – awesome, and I’m happy to support you guys by sending checks for cool stuff.

    I’ll toss out another opportunity, which is that one of my vet friends here in SoCal is willing to take on and train some other vets in enterprise storage tech – free – and guarantee them pretty cool nerd jobs if they pass the training.

    If you know technically literate (not rocket scientist by any means) vets here in California, have them reach out to me and I’ll pass them along.

    Marc “Armed Liberal” Danziger

  8. Ali Solomon

    June 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Keep it up Nick! I am excited to see what you can do for us veterans in the future. It’s promising to know that people aspire to elevate and promote a a strong future for fellow veterans to innovate. Awesome. Keep us posted on progress or needs to get ‘rr done. I appreciate that you or any business can propel veterans that have sacrificed so much since they deserve to do well!

  9. Mary

    June 19, 2012 at 9:03 am

    I am a huge fan of RU and of the idea behind it. Thank you for what you’re doing for Veterans and if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. I’ve been looking for an organization to work with… I can’t think of a better one to dedicate my time and efforts to. 🙂

  10. Tony Winkler

    June 19, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I’m pumped that there are others thinking this way. Screw the re-training programs, screw the clueless employers who don’t know what to do with us because they can’t even name a distant relative that ever served. We’re ideally suited for American entrepreneurism, so there’s no reason to go around begging for a job. After a few years of casting about, I finally got off my ass and am in the beginning stages of my own start-up. I’m on mission and ready to kick in the door. See you down range and Semper Fi.

  11. Tony

    June 19, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I’m pumped that there are others thinking this way. Screw the re-training programs, screw the clueless employers who don’t know what to do with us because they can’t even name a distant relative that ever served. We’re ideally suited for American entrepreneurism, so there’s no reason to go around begging for a job. After a few years of casting about, I finally got off my ass and am in the beginning stages of my own start-up. I’m on mission and ready to kick in the door. We need patriots running companies, not just douchebags who can’t seem to figure out a business model that involves hiring fellow Americans.See you down range and Semper Fi.

  12. ERIN

    June 19, 2012 at 11:32 am

    You definitely hit the nail on the head. You are so right in everything you have said on this article. As a fellow veteran I know how hard it is out there even when you have a college degree. Cause everyone I know wants 5 years experience. So where is a soldier to get it. That’s why it helps when other veterans are helping other veterans to make sure we succeed and not fail. We can count on America to support us we need be strong and make our own way in society. We need to stand up and say look I do have what it takes to make it in this world. Thanks again for inspiring veterans, soldiers, and helping them to realize they can make it on their own and they don’t have to give up on their dreams. Thanks a million one proud VETERAN!!!!

  13. Molly Ritterbeck

    June 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I have always thought highly of you for doing the right thing, andI will continue to do so. I am so proud to know you and call you a friend and I will forever throw your name out there when people are looking for awesome things to buy and I will support you no matter what. Keep up the great work!!!!

  14. Jon nunemaker

    June 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I’m in!!

  15. Jon nunemaker

    June 20, 2012 at 10:49 am

    That’s on he’ll of a mission statement!!! I’m in!!

  16. Jon nunemaker

    June 20, 2012 at 10:49 am

    That’s on hell of a mission statement!!! I’m in!!

  17. J. Cheek

    June 20, 2012 at 11:54 am

    “I know it’s childish and stupid, but the same chip on my shoulder that drives me personally, wants to see military veteranship (I just made that word up) become the primary means to success. I want our response to these assclowns to change. I don’t want you guys battling it out with spoiled hippie trolls on Facebook. I want those trolls occupying your company’s front lawn because you won’t hire their asses.”

    That is brilliant, especially coming from a guy that went to The Point. I am on board with your plan for America brother, and I spent years of my mid 20’s in odd dead-end jobs cause no one understood ‘veteranship’. It should be a stepping stone to having the lifestyle that these clowns who never rode in a turret, stood a post, or set foot in another (hostile) country get to have. And don’t take the wisecrack about The Point too hard; it’s all brotherly love from one military college guy to another.

    J. Cheek
    Military Police (Former)
    North Georgia College, c/o ’04

  18. Robbiek3/187

    June 21, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Nick,

    You are correct in that a life led with purpose helps make the path easier for a motivated Type A. You are also correct that life after service at times feels incomplete.
    I agree your company is not an apparel company, you guys represent a lifestyle, a way of living based on duty and honor and protecting those who protect us.
    You are wise to only look forward as there is no other way for an entrepreneur. Looking back slows you down. I have owned my own company for going on 13 years and everytime I slow down to look back I see a downturn in income and opportunity. Not good especially in this “wonderful” business climate. The only way an entrepreneur survives is to learn one simple word – “next”. You close a deal…look to the next opportunity. You lose a deal…onto the next prospect. Always next, always keep the ball moving down the field.
    Lastly, I am glad you mentioned Karl Monger, he is a wonderful person running a wonderful organization. I am proud that in July 2013 I will be racing in the Lake Placid Ironman and raising money for Gallant Few. Stay tuned for that because the fundraising site for Gallant Few/Ironman will go up somewhere around July 27th of this year. Springsteen was right…we do indeed Take Care of Our Own.
    Congrats on your success and God bless on your future success…always forward!
    Ne Desit Virtus!!
    Rob K.

  19. Grin and Barrett

    July 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Nick,

    Didn’t you hear the news? You “didn’t build that….”

  20. Frank Boland

    November 25, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Nice Hooah, Sir. I’ll take point!

  21. Sgt. Stringcheese

    November 25, 2012 at 11:43 am

    “Because Fuck Them”- I’m offended……………
    Occupy this bitches.

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