Chip’s former SOF background propelled him into a position with Tactical Night Vision Company (TNVC) where he specialized in sales and training for night vision and associated product accessories. Currently he is the lead instructor for all their Night Fighter classes while also working full-time in various business and product development capacities at Unity Tactical.
Unity Tactical was founded in 2012 with the goal of developing products that addressed real gaps in capabilities across multiple categories. Chip says, “our products are all about solving the core problem, not just about creating a quick fix. We are committed to thoughtful designs and meaningful end user solutions”.
One such solution evolved as the ATOM slide designed for Glock pistols in order to meet a specific need from a SOF unit to mount an Aimpoint Micro T1 optic to a Glock slide. The solution to this challenge would eventually become the first modular pistol optic slide. This is typical of the innovation that continues to drive all the product development at Unity.
We asked Chip about what new product innovations at Unity and elsewhere he is excited about. He said:
“At Unity, we thrive on innovation. So, I’m obviously very excited about all of our system integration products. But I’m most excited about our growing FAST optic mount series and Hot Button remote electronic accessory switches. I am an outspoken proponent of making gear work for the operator rather than the other way around. Our new FAST mounts help users efficiently run their gun regardless of the extra gear being worn, like plate carriers, gas masks, and night vision goggles. Hot Buttons are literally redefining the paradigm of how a weapon-mounted light or laser can be activated.
Elsewhere in the industry, I’m very excited about the advancements in augmented reality that we are starting to see finally come to fruition. These battlefield awareness devices will infinitely increase lethality, soldier survivability, and overall battlefield domination.”
Chip has been a dedicated user of our HEL-STAR® multi-function lights since they first hit the market. He has had opportunity to utilize them in both training and operations, so we asked him to share why he considers them to be an essential safety device.
“Operating at night produces a host of new challenges because you cannot see all your equipment. Gear interaction must be intuitive and deliberate. Active strobes are one of the surest methods of IFF. If I don’t want a blue/blue incident with a gunship or other unit, I need to know without a doubt that my strobe is working. “
Chip went on to say:
“Besides the fact that HEL-STAR® is reliable, it features positive mode engagement that provides tactile confirmation. This is my favorite feature of the HEL-STAR® line. As an operator, it is imperative that I have 100% blind control over all my gear. This means that I am 100% positive that my gear is secure and functioning in the way I need it. Because HEL-STAR® strobes have positive detent switch positions, I can reach up top of my helmet and feel where the switches are set. This gives me 100% confidence that my strobe is blinking when I need it to blink, solid when I need it solid, and most importantly in the correct spectrum. You do not want to be in a situation when you’re calling for gunship support and need to mark all friendlies with IR strobes, only to be the guy who starts flashing in visible spectrum. This is a quick way to end up dead. HEL-STAR® strobes have always given me confidence that they are performing the way I want them to when I want them to.”
As an active and effective social media influencer we asked Chip to share some of his insights regarding the dominance of platforms such as Facebook and Instagram in our industry. He said:
“I believe social media is the best way to reach the end user. For better or worse, platforms like Instagram and Facebook dominate modern society. The population is continually glued to their phones with every free second seeing us unconsciously checking our pages and feeds.
Social media platforms reach professional and recreational end-users. We didn’t have this level of social media bombardment when I first went to war over 20 years ago. Regardless of how young I feel, I’m still amazed at how young the new cops and warfighters are that come to my classes. This new generation of warriors have been raised on social media and constant technology. They are on social media as much as anyone else.
On the commercial side, consumers use these platforms as a way to educate themselves about the products. They are often drawn to current and former SOF guys who post about gear they want to know all about the products and hear what professionals have to say about them. Manufacturers can advertise all they want. But a corporate ad will not have the same impact as a professional or former professional end user seen with the product.”
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic we are all learning to adapt to the changes that have come to us personally and professionally. Fortunately for Chip the transition has been relatively easy, but not without its challenges.
Chip says: “I’ve always been a self-motivated person. I find that being goal oriented and breaking down tasks into manageable chunks helps me measure my progress. It’s the same mentality that got me through Selection: “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Fitness is a huge part of my life as well. A high level of physical fitness was required in my past life and I find that staying healthy in body has a positive effect on my mind and soul too. My daily routine used to include going to the gym every morning before coming home and getting to work. Now, I simply work out in the basement. But that daily ritual helps me prepare and center myself for the days to come.”
On the other hand, the cancellation of trade shows, training classes, and the inability to travel for sales demos mean there are now a lot of missed or at the least postponed sales opportunities. However, Chip remains optimistic about the positive lessons we can learn from this time including the recognition that virtual offices and employees are just as effective as those onsite at brick and mortar buildings.
Chip anticipates a shift in business culture which will positively impact our industry’s ability to hire talented people. He says: “I think there are a lot of very qualified people for various positions that do not pursue these opportunities or have had those denied to them, simply because they do not want to relocate”.
The biggest issue he has right now, and I think we can all relate is that “our always-connected world can make it hard to know when to step away for the day.”
If you aren’t following Chip on Instagram yet be sure to check out his posts at @claskytac
Photo Credit: JW Ramp Follow on Instgram: @jwramp