Deidre Goodwin was directing traffic in the middle of Peachtree Street and Piedmont Road in Atlanta when she was stuck by a car.
“I was standing in the middle of one of the biggest intersections in the city—maybe even the state,” said Goodwin. “I was in all my reflective safety gear, but the driver said they could not see my hands.”
Luckily, she was not hurt. But Goodwin’s experience gave her an idea for a piece of safety gear for law enforcement officials. With the help of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (UGA SBDC), she was able to take her idea to market.
“I knew there was a better way to increase hand visibility for safety officers,” said Goodwin. “I went out looking for the product I had in my head but it did not exist. I decided to bring my own idea to market.”
Goodwin took several business classes offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) while doing research and development for her glove idea. When she was ready to launch, she reached out to Mark Collier, area director for the UGA SBDC in DeKalb.
“When we first started working together, her needs were foundational needs that all small businesses have: marketing, strategy and operations,” said Collier. “But Deidre understood that the biggest way she was going to make an impact was getting her product sold by a big-box retailer.”
With that goal in mind, Goodwin sold her house, cashed out her 401K and launched Haltzgloves.
Haltzgloves is a high-visibility reflective glove, differentiated from other gloves on the market due to its printed direction markings: an “X” is printed on the palm and directional arrows on the back of the hands. The markings provide officers directing traffic the tools they need to safely communicate directions from distances up to a quarter of a mile.
Goodwin created the prototype herself and then partnered with a manufacturer, Big Time Products, for production. Tim Stapleton, the owner at the time, is a former police officer and understood the need for the product.
Stapleton altered her prototype to increase durability by breaking it into 27 pieces stitched together. This made manufacturing challenging but created a higher quality product.
“Tim loved my story and felt my pain,” said Goodwin. “He knew another manufacturer wouldn’t want to take on the challenge of producing a 27-piece glove, so he built out the glove himself. And he built the best glove ever on the market.”
Since then, Goodwin has added additional manufacturers that all use the same model.
After perfecting manufacturing and obtaining necessary accreditations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority, Haltzgloves has become a staple for law enforcement, first responders and school crossing guards.
On the first day Haltzgloves was open for business in 2016, it sold 1,000 units. Since then, sales have grown 500-fold. Goodwin started off as the sole employee—she now employs nine full-time employees and 20 sales representatives.
In October 2022, Goodwin’s goal of placing Haltzgloves in big-box retailer stores came into reach. A Home Depot representative called and said the company wanted to add Haltzgloves to its shelves, resulting in an estimated 50 percent increase in revenue.
While Home Depot gets ready to roll out the product, Goodwin is diversifying manufacturing, both domestically and internationally, to accommodate demand. As she grows, she still plans to lean on the UGA SBDC and its team of business experts.
“I understand how to sell gloves,” said Goodwin. “I need help making sure the company is structured correctly and that we are moving in the right direction. And that’s where Mark and the UGA SBDC have been a great help.”
Collier advised Goodwin to set up an advisory board, with experts in legal, human resources and accounting—a group she continues to lean on. Additionally, he encouraged her to be innovative in her offerings by expanding into additional products. Arm bands and keychains with similar reflective technology were added and quickly proved profitable with a large contract to produce more than 100,000 keychains for a customer in 2022.
“I love what I do. It’s so much fun. Going to conferences, meeting with customers and distributors,” said Goodwin. “In the world of glove companies, we are small, but we have a product people love and people want.”
For More Information: University of Georgia SBDC | (706) 542-2762