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This Veteran Risked His Savings to Build Better Armor He bet his retirement. Now he runs a multi-million dollar business.

By Matt McCue

This story appears in the September 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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His story: I served in the Marine Corps with a man who was killed in Iraq from an IED blast. The plate he was wearing should have held the shrapnel, but it didn't. I started my business to make better body armor because I never respected the armor the Department of Defense produces -- the structure hasn't changed in a decade and a half, at least. I went to the drawing board in 2012 and broke down every single aspect of the armor plate to see what types of adhesives, threads and backings we could use to make it stronger. We came up with some prototypes that were a phenomenally superior product, and that's how we got started.

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After my honorable discharge in 2005, I was a police officer from 2007 to 2013, then cashed out my retirement to start RMA Armament in Wyoming. It caused a little bit of marital disharmony -- my wife thought it was a stupid, reckless idea. I partnered with Burke Miehe, the founder of American Pattern in Cedar Falls. He asked how much I needed to get started. All I had was a garage, so I told him around $1 million. Without missing a beat, he said, "Come see me tomorrow." I had to pull my car over, I was in such shock.

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