Tyler Merritt is the guy who knows nothing about apparel but managed to build a wildly successful apparel company.
He misses the simplicity of the uniform and never having to pick his own wardrobe. With its convenient camouflage, his uniform was perfect not only for military service, but for parenting. Runny noses, skinned knees, spilled drinks any of the above could be absorbed with a hug and a wipe of that uniform.
Now that he’s a civilian, Tyler’s wife a nurse and a bikini fitness model often catches him on his way out the door. “No, that’s bad. Go back and fix yourself,” she’ll say. And he does. So, how does a guy that so apparel-challenged lead an apparel company to such huge success? With a sharp understanding of leadership, a love for the technology and back-end systems, an outstanding team, and a lot of grit.
Like many veteran entrepreneurs, Tyler came away from his service with a hard-core work ethic and strong leadership skills. He also believes in the value of building relationships between those who serve whether in the military, law enforcement or the first responder fields with those who do not. His COO and co-founder is a civilian, and the partnership is a powerful merging of the two lifestyles, skills, and visions.
The work ethic comes into play every day. Tyler Merritt isn’t a fan of those long hours, but he accepts them as part of the dues he must continue to pay, to live his own American Dream.
He helps himself find the staying power for those long days by maximizing his down time with his family and friends. Those are the moments he truly lives for now. Whether it is a family vacation or just a weekend at home, he packs those days with moments to remember.
The high carries him into his week, and the anticipation carries him through it.
It’s also easier to push yourself when you believe in your mission. For Tyler, restoring patriotism and national pride to the country he served the country his friends lost limbs and lives for is a driving force.
The “relentlessly patriotic” apparel company is unabashedly outspoken and fiercely committed to reinvigorating the sense of patriotism and national pride that is disappearing daily from our society.
Patriotism outweighs politics in the Nine Line Community, and it doesn’t stop there.
The NLF mission is two-fold: To raise awareness of the harsh circumstances our severely injured service members and their families face once their life threatening injuries are stabilized, and to greatly improve the quality of life of our wounded heroes, focusing efforts on each individual candidate’s needs.
Initially operating on a one-at-a-time pace, the NLF is now helping more veterans at once, through the creation of a Veterans’ Village in Savannah, Georgia. Not only will this village offer housing to homeless veterans, it will also offer supplemental service, including vocational training in aquaponics. The village will be self-sustainable. All of that is pretty cool but for Tyler, one of the best parts of it all is that is funded without government help. It is American citizens coming together to use their businesses, their organizations, and their own sweat equity to build and launch this village.
What’s it like to work in a company that has grown so much and does so much?
Fun. It’s hard work but it’s also fun.
The employees have grown into extended family. Dull moments or irksome behavior are easily remedied with Nerf guns, and quitting time turns into happy hour. The tone is a spinoff of Tyler; work hard, play hard, love your country, love your countrymen. This is achieved through equal parts tenacity, grit, and sarcasm.
He believes in the values he speaks of. He believes in the “Just Stand” campaign Nine Line launched. He doesn’t hold back on sharing what really happened, when his company’s ad was turned down for the Super Bowl and he is way ahead of things for next year, determined to avail himself of the same platform for patriotism, that companies like Nike used for their own message -one he views as unpatriotic.
What is all boils down to, he says, is standing for specific values. At West Point, the mantra Duty, Honor, Country, was drilled into him. Words have meanings, he says, and each of those words could be broken down into several day seminars. The flag means something to him it reminds him of every flag that drapes every coffin of the fallen. Some of those flags draped over the coffins of his friends. It’s important to respect those things.
The kinds of sacrifices still being made every day.
His world and this country are not without problems. Tyler acknowledges that and responds with a certainty that even with its problems, Americans are blessed by birthright. With that birthright come responsibilities as well as rights.
“Think globally, act locally.” It’s a simple phrase with powerful meaning. It’s what he’s doing with Nine Line Foundation, and what he encourages every citizen to do in their own community.