In Katrina’s Wake, Disaster Prep Company Born

Five years ago, many looked on as wind, rain, and floods devastated our country’s Gulf Coast. Afterward, many also looked for an opportunity to help.

According to, among them were Nicholas Connor and Dennis Bertken, who both witnessed the destruction in 2005 and thought we all could do better. They shared a belief that people should be better prepared to handle such disasters. The two quickly joined forces and founded a company called LifeGear, which provides high-quality equipment like backpacks, flashlights, and accessory kits for people in emergencies.

Today the company operates in 80,000 storefronts throughout the U.S. and brings in millions of dollars in revenue each year.

Q: At what point during the course of those events were you two inspired to start the company?

Nicholas Connor: The true inspiration for the company is the result of the two of us watching the tragedy of Katrina unfold. Watching it on TV, being exposed to suffering and the damage in the area, we asked ourselves, “How can a country like America have citizens that were not able to fare better during this time?”

Q: How long did it take to come up with the business plan and get the company on its feet?

Dennis Bertken: The company launched our first invention shortly after Katrina. It was a crank-powered flashlight with a radio, a phone charger, and an emergency siren that all ran off of quad power.

Nicholas Connor: We started in Dillard’s department store in Little Rock. By the end of October 2005 we had an order for 15,000 units. Within the first six months we were doing over six million in revenue and hadn’t hired an employee. We knew that innovation was going to have to be a key factor. We’ve launched one new product a month every month since 2005.

Photo by LifeGear.

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