I had been a chief engineer for 13 years at upscale historic district hotels in Savannah, Georgia. I had the keys to everything in the building, everything on the property – countless keys that I carried on a large ring attached to my belt. I jangled as I walked.
“I jangled as I walked”
It always amazed me how the guys who worked under me were always busy, never messing around when I’d come into the maintenance shop. I wrote it off as hiring the right people, but deep down, I knew better. One day I walked into the restroom and someone in a stall said, “Hey, Mike, where are we going for lunch?” It was one of my guys, and he’d asked me the question even though there was no way for him to know it was me. Except for the jangling keys. That’s when it hit me. Everyone knew I was coming. They could hear my keys!
“They could hear my keys!”
That’s when I knew I had to STOP THE NOISE! And that was the day I came up with the idea for KeyBar. As someone who carried a multi-tool daily and lots of stuff in my pockets, I knew there needed to be a pocket clip, and it needed to hold some tools, too.
“Each key could be like a tool in a multi-tool”
It took plenty of trial and error. I tried all kinds of different designs and eventually settled on the KeyBar shape. The biggest challenge was how to fit a bunch of keys into a single KeyBar. I knew if the keys could stack on each other, I could make it work. It did!
So, I started selling early KeyBars to friends and friends of friends. I soon found that there were plenty of guys out there like me who couldn’t stand the noise, either. They just didn’t have a solution. They loved their KeyBar, and they’d call me because their buddies wanted KeyBars, too.
Then I started adding custom designs to my KeyBars, and I tried making them out of different materials. Aluminum was the first material, but I wanted titanium. Then I had to try carbon fiber. Each KeyBar was different. I tried different materials, different treatments. They were almost like works of art. I’d post them to Instagram, and pretty soon I had quite a following. We added a few accessories, and it took off even further.
“They were almost like works of art”
I left my job in July of 2014. Jessica, my wife, left hers that December. We kept finding more suppliers to help us make parts. We kept buying bigger and faster machines to make components. Then, retailers were calling. Everyone wants a KeyBar! I have no idea where this will all go. But I can’t wait to find out. We’ve hired our first set of employees, but we still can’t keep up. I feel like I’m living a dream. The American Dream! Bottom line, I thank everyone who wanted to stop the noise and bought a KeyBar.