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Bad Ass Work Gear
Paul started Bad Ass Work Gear in 2012. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Bad Ass Work Gear?
I was born in Houma, Louisiana - a small town about an hour Southwest of New Orleans. I grew up wrestling alligators, fishing and hunting, drinking beer in sugarcane fields, and of course speaking with a funny Cajun accent.
“I didn’t have any clue what I wanted to be when I grew up after graduation. However, I did know I wanted to be an entrepreneur. That was clear.”
Houma is the hub of offshore oil and gas, the key to the Gulf of Mexico with its ports and access to the coast. Because of this, oilfield service companies and related businesses define this Louisiana community. Both my mom and dad worked in the oilfield.
When I was 9, my dad got me a camouflaged bag for my hunting gear. He bought it from a little shop that specialized in heavy duty vinyl bags for offshore oilfield workers. It was tough as nails.
Years later, I graduated from college with a degree in Business Management from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Our mascot is a Cayenne Pepper, and we’re called the Ragin’ Cajuns. This is probably not relevant to the story at all, but it is important to note.
Now, I didn’t have any clue what I wanted to be when I grew up after graduation. However, I did know I wanted to be an entrepreneur. That was clear. I also knew that whatever I did, I didn’t want to go into the oil and gas industry.
About a month after graduation, I took a job with Schlumerger, one of the largest oilfield services companies in the world. I would work offshore on oil platforms and make a ton of money. But wait, didn’t I say that was the one thing I didn’t want to do? Yep. What the hell?
Anyway, I figured I could save up all the money I made to start a business. I heard a story about the founder of Raising Cane’s working in Alaska fishing salmon to raise the startup capital for his first restaurant. I could suck it up for a year or two.
Working for Schlumberger, they sent me to the same little shop that I got my first hunting bag from to get my first oilfield bag. It wasn’t until I started working offshore that I realized how tough these bags really were.
The bag was pretty large, because you have to stuff a ton of stuff in there since you’ll be gone for a week or more at a time: boots, coveralls, underwear, hard hat, etc. I also packed a 12-pack of gloves (one pair per day), jeans for travel days, my own pillow (because I’m a weirdo), snacks, and protein powder.
I’d have a driver haul me to the coast. Then I’d take my bag and throw in on the gravel while I grab all my other gear, a tool box, a hand pump, and some other miscellaneous tooling. Then, I grab everything and head to a supply vessel. I’d dump all of my gear on the back deck of the boat for the 6-20 hour ride out to the platform. Sometimes it would storm and the bag would get rained on and splashed from the high seas. Most times, it stayed dry and baked in the heat.
Once we’d reach the drilling rig or platform, I’d have to throw all my gear into a personnel basket, and be lifted 150 feet from the vessel into the air up onto the drilling rig or platform deck. It looked something like this:
Then, once again, I’d take all my gear and throw it out the basket onto the grating of the platform. The pic above is a drilling rig, so at least here the deck is steel plate and not too rough.
Long story short, traditional bags didn’t hold up long to this abuse, but these heavy duty vinyl bags did.
I was making good money, but the time away from family and friends was taking its toll. I missed holidays, birthday parties, and family gatherings. I took all the money I made and invested it in the stock market, hoping to make my money grow. Instead, I invested just before the stock crash and lost half of it. So much for that stockpile.
In 2008, I took a job with GE in their Oil and Gas division in Houston, Texas. Things were good. I was making less money than my offshore salary, but I was in decent shape. I got to travel, and manage some interesting projects. I picked up a book called the 4HWW and decided to bootstrap something since my savings was still all in the stock market.
I don’t know why, but the bag thing was my first good idea. There was nothing like it in Houston or in the emerging land based oilfield hot spots.
I threw together a quick website with Wordpress. I used Elance (now UpWork) to hire someone to make some product renderings. Once everything was up, orders slowly started rolling in.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater