By TAMERA MANZANARES
Fort Collins Coloradoan
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - Fourteen years ago, former
firefighter Diane Felix spent 12 hours a day sewing radio harnesses
for wildland firefighters.
Those long hours marked the beginning of The Supply Cache Inc.,
a home-based business Felix started with firefighter husband Jim
Felix for part-time income so she could stay home with their
Now owners of a major firefighting gear company with six
employees, the Felixes recently broke ground on a
11,000-square-foot building in Fort Collins.
The building, which will house stock of more than 200 types of
firefighting clothing and equipment, is a long way from the living
room where the Felixes started The Supply Cache.
"We took a leap of faith and said let's try this and see what
happens," Diane Felix said about starting the company with her
husband, whom she met at a firefighting course he taught in 1987.
Jim Felix, the company's president, still fights fires part time
for Larimer County Emergency Services. He began his firefighting
career in 1984.
While dating, the two wanted to give each other practical gifts
but had a hard time finding specialized clothing and equipment that
would make their jobs on the fire lines easier.
Realizing that other seasonal and part-time firefighters had the
same problem, the couple put Diane's retail experience and Jim's
business skills to work in forming The Supply Cache.
The company started with a one-page brochure, but it wasn't long
before the Felixes began outsourcing the radio harnesses to outside
manufacturers. They also added specialty equipment from other
vendors to their ever-growing mail-order catalog.
"Having Jim in the area is wonderful because he's always got
the latest and greatest stuff," said Dave Mosier, wildfire program
coordinator with the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. "It offers
great ability for local firefighters to try out stuff and access
some of the newest stuff that's out there."
Mosier said the General Services Administration provides
government firefighting agencies with basic equipment, but
individual firefighters typically don't have access to the GSA.
He said most of his summer on-call firefighters - about 100 -
get their personal gear, including packs, helmets, goggles and
headlamps from The Supply Cache.
The Felixes' intent in starting the company was to provide a
one-stop shopping experience for firefighters needing gear, but
some of their biggest customers are federal agencies such as the
U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the
U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Diane Felix said.
Jim Felix declined to comment on the company's sales last year,
but he estimated the business' sales revenue has grown about 30
percent each year since it started in 1991.
The company donates all of its proceeds from certain T-shirts
and gift items to the Boise, Idaho-based Wildland Fire Fighter's
Foundation, which raises money for the families of firefighters
injured or killed on the job. The Northern Colorado Education Fund
is another Supply Cache beneficiary.
"It ties in the complete circle of serving the community," Jim
Felix said. "We really started the company to serve the individual
firefighter and that (donations) is just a part of it."
In addition to the hands-on expertise of Jim Felix, who tries
out much of the gear while fighting fires, customers like that The
Supply Cache stocks everything in its warehouse for quick delivery,
Diane Felix said.
It's not uncommon for the company to ship orders directly to
crews at major fires, she said.
Jim and Diane Felix managed The Supply Cache from their home
basement until 1998, when they rented about 5,000 square feet of
warehouse space at their current location in Fort Collins.
They expect to move into their new building, which is being
built by R.C. Heath Construction Co., in early September. The new
facility will cost about $900,000 to build, Jim Felix said.
On the Net:
The Supply Cache Inc.: http://www.firecache.com
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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Thread: Serving wildland FF's
03-31-2004, 10:57 PM #1
Serving wildland FF'sProudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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On the web at www.section2wildfire.com
04-06-2004, 08:16 PM #2
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- Jan 2004
Lots of props for the supply cache!
I was just up at their warehouse a couple weeks ago buying a new pack and some brush pants.
Great customer service.
I'm glad to see they're doing so well and look forward to checking out their new location!
04-07-2004, 08:12 AM #3
I have had great luck with them. They are always very friendly and helpful. Got to meet with some of them at the fire academys in New Mexico and Arizona.
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