Former Navy SEAL and successful serial entrepreneur, Mike Noell, chats with host and entrepreneurial CEO Tom Loarie on life, business, and lessons learned.
Virginia Beach, Va. (January 2021) – Founder and CEO of SENTRY Products Group, LLC™, Mike Noell, spent some time with The Mentors Radio host and fellow entrepreneur, Tom Loarie, on a podcast on Jan. 6, 2021.
The Mentors Radio features three entrepreneurial CEOs hosting top-performing innovators, advisors, entrepreneurs, and CEOs from around the globe. The podcasts provide listeners with the backgrounds and stories behind some of the most successful brands and companies. Digging into their guests’ life stories, The Mentors Radio hosts reveal the business practices, life lessons, and sometimes, difficult decisions leaders make every day.
On Jan. 6, 2021, The Mentors Radio host, Tom Loarie, spoke with Mike Noell, former Navy SEAL, former founder and CEO of BLACKHAWK!, and current founder and CEO of SENTRY Products Group, LLC, based in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Host Tom started right off by asking Mike about his “Aha!” business moment. Mike’s moment came while as a Navy SEAL during the first Gulf War in 1991. His SEAL unit was teamed up with Marines on a mission of deep reconnaissance and to provide the Kurdish people with humanitarian relief at the southern border of Turkey during the no-fly initiative established by the US. Wearing loaded packs weighing over 100 lbs., he and his team inserted via helicopters 60 kilometers into Northern Iraq. As fate would have it, the strap on Mike’s backpack broke and took him down with the fallout. A Bouncing Betty mine greeted him, just inches from where he fell. What could have been a catastrophe to him and his team, became Mike’s “come to Jesus” moment where he decided that if he got out of there alive, he would create gear that would never fail a warfighter. This would be the birth of BLACKHAWK!
For many in the military, and specifically the special operations groups, the BLACKHAWK! brand was the epitome tactical gear brand in the world for over a decade and was synonymous with superior mission-designed products. In April of 2010, the company was purchased by ATK. The resounding success of the BLACKHAWK! brand and eventual sale, left many in the industry assuming Mike Noell had successfully retired from the highly competitive world of designing and manufacturing gear.
Mike’s history as a competitive athlete (swimming) and competitive sailor, combined with his service as a Navy SEAL prepared him for a high-octane life, so retirement was not an option. This year marks the fifth year of SENTRY Products Group and the year Mike believes the brand will show significant growth in the marketplace, through their combined efforts of product launches, marketing, and sales. SENTRY Products Group is just the latest entrepreneurial passion of Mike and his team of former BLACKHAWK! executives to showcase and bring a variety of products to the market for law enforcement, military, security, and outdoor communities.
His years as a Navy SEAL had provided Mike with some of the critical skills he would take into the business world, such as to never quit, that failure is not an option, and to not try, but do. Combined with his father’s experience as a problem solver and entrepreneur, Mike’s initial endeavor into the cut and sew business for his military pals was not easy. “We started in a garage. All the gear that our guys were using was old and out of date with all the new electronics that they started to carry in the field. They needed new pouches and load-bearing systems. It was a time of transitioning out of the Vietnam era and into today where our special operators and specifically the Navy SEALS needed to accomplish their missions better and faster, and gear was critical to their success.”
BLACKHAWK! grew and over the years, Mike brought on a team of experts in their chosen fields that took the brand to the very top of its category in brand awareness, customer loyalty, and sales figures. After over a decade, Mike realized that to continue the rapid growth and technologies required to keep the company at the top spot, a financial partner was essential. Instead of a partner, the company was sold and Mike quietly went into a semi-retirement state.
“I didn’t have a good work-life balance and running a company like BLACKHAWK! was a 24/7 job. I took some time with my family and to regroup,” Mike reflected when asked by the host how he brought balance into his life. “My passion is in helping those on the line by providing them with the tools they need to make their missions successful, so after some time for reflection, I jumped back into the business world with SENTRY Products Group. At SENTRY, I now have the A-team from BLACKHAWK!, and over the past five years we have made four acquisitions, brought back our production facilities, and have some great new and innovative products lined up for release.”
Mike wrapped up his hour-long interview by telling listeners that what drives him is his customer base and what he and his team can do to make their jobs and lives more successful. “Find your passion and pursue it.”
To hear the full podcast and SENTRY Products Group CEO Mike Noell talk about what he learned from his time with the Navy SEALS and as a founder of two highly innovative companies, visit www.thementorsradio.com.
About SENTRY Products Group, LLC™:
SENTRY Products Group is headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The company designs, manufactures, and distributes a growing line of innovative products supporting Military, Law Enforcement and Shooting Sports markets. Product families include Tactical Nylon – plate carriers, belts, pouches and accessories; Bags and Packs, Firearm Covers for handgun and long guns, Magazines and On-Gun Accessories branded SENTRY Hexmag; Optic Covers branded SENTRY Scopecoat®, and the dry lubrication system of SENTRY Solutions. With a innovative product portfolio backed by US and International patents SENTRY backs all of their products with a hassle-free Lifetime Warranty to protect your investment. “Live to Protect.”