Chris' beach mat snapped up by US military
CHRIS Reynolds simply wanted to earn a living doing something other than concreting.
Then the US Military called and placed a $4 million order for his innovative mesh mat.
A few things happened in between, not the least of which being an accidental idea spawning a unique product with countless applications, the assembly of a consortium of investors, the formation of a company, a world patent and a lot of trial and error.
The CGear Multimat is a mat made of synthetic woven mesh. It is unique, mostly because it features two layers of shadecloth-style mesh that do not allow sand or dirt to collect. Sand thrown at its surface simply sifts through to the floor.
Mr Reynolds had originally planned for his biggest market to be "bums on beaches", but the mat ended up being a hit with the camping industry and military organisations worldwide.
"Everything fell into place when it came to meeting the people I needed to meet and I had a lot of help along the way from fantastic mentors," he said of the business' charmed growth.
"In the early days when we were doing some feasibility studies and feeling out the market, we were approached by the Australian military. They thought it was a fantastic idea because there was a lot of sand where they were fighting.
"They could use it for all kinds of applications. And by chance, a helicopter pilot heard about it and asked if it could hold down the sand.
"The biggest problem they have is "brown out", when dirt flies up in the air as they are landing.
"They did some trials and before we knew it, our mats came back as the only portable lightweight material landing pad that stopped brown out by up to 90%. It solved the problem they needed exactly. That was a gift from God.
"Within four years we had a contract with the US military, but the Australians are still sitting on the bench. It is frustrating because I have watched two television shows since where they've been complaining about the problem of brown out.
"They know about it, but we haven't cut through the red tape yet."
Now, 11 years after the company launched, Mr Reynolds is taking his mat back to where it all began, releasing a range of fun and colourful beach mats for recreational use.
"This is my original baby. We are selling them online," he said. "They are two metres by two metres and they are really trendy, they look really good.
"I am still using the prototype that I had made back in 2000 and it is still going strong. And I've got three boys and we go to the beach with the Coolum Boardriders all the time. If it gets a bit dirty, we take it to Car Lovers and give it a spray with the Gerni and it comes up brand new."