If you love something as a hobby, be aware that making it a business will certainly be different. I often use the statement, “if you like mowing the lawn, the last thing you want to do is start a lawn mowing business, because the last thing you will be doing is mowing lawns, you will be consumed with business management and operational duties”.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick Santini.
Patrick Santiniis considered a pioneer in several industries, having developed and patented products for broadcast platforms, temporary structures, and aerospace solutions. In 2020, Santini and his partner Dr. Boaz Avitall developed and launched a wrist band dispenser for the purpose of having an always ready way to dispense hand sanitizer directly to the palm of your hand.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in Ironwood, MI in 1978 and enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard in 1996. I spent four years as an 91B Field Medic. After returning to Ironwood from military service, there were limited positions available in my field of training. I relocated to Hartford, WI and worked in variety of positions from printing and bindery, welding even filing vending machines. Ultimately finding a career with the Ironworkers Local 8, where I completed a three year apprenticeship, and ultimately became a journeyman ironworker. Since freshman year of high school, I have been involved in the theater and performing arts. My hobby of DJ’ing turned into a business and started to evolve into a live production company, the transition from DJ Company to Providing Live sound, lighting and staging for performances, concerts, and festivals.
Over the next six years I grew the company to be the leading staging provider in the live sports television industry.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I was invited to sit and speak on a panel of peers at a Sports Video Group conference, in this audience were senior executives and managers from every major television outlet. When he asked the coordinator “why am I here? There are certainly others that have been doing this longer!” the response was, “You’re here because you’re doing it differently and in a way that Is changing how the industry operates, you are the future, that’s why you’re here and not somebody that is set in the usual ways and has been doing the same thing forever”. That really resonated with me and helped me jumpstart a new direction in my career.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Michael Konner. A blind yellow page’s call came in from Michael looking for platform for an event. This was not any standard platform but one custom in every way. After delivering a deadline that would be extremely hard to meet (the next morning) he asked if it was possible, my response was anything is possible. Working through the night along with everyone who would answer their phone, we delivered exactly what he had asked for. Michael was a senior producer for the NFL Network and after that day he took me and my company to every event they did since and actively promoted my company to the entire industry. When I think of Michael it reminds me of a phrase a previous Milwaukee Business man used regularly (Harry Quadracci) “Enlarge the opportunity and the person will expand to fill it”. Michael did this for me, through our relationship he would ask, “can you do it?” and if I said yes. I did. Michael believed in me, and that’s what I needed to succeed.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
In October, 2011 I started Kernwer LLC, a leading staging provider in the live sports television industry working with clients such as Fox sports, CBS, NFL Network, ESPN, Milwaukee Brewers, US Tennis association, Turner Broadcast, FSN, Spartan group, Big Ten Network and Rodgers Media group, as well as the UFC.
In October, 2013 ModTruss was founded. ModTruss was conceived and formed for the sole purpose to market and distribute the Kernwer born product line. ModTruss has been a disruptor in several major markets to include FILM, Television, Tradeshows, Aerospace Manufacturing, and Industrial Training. ModTruss has won Best Rigging Product in both North America and in the UK.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
With no live concerts, few sporting events and trade shows at a halt, I had to find another business that I was passionate about, but also had experience in.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
In February 2020, I was introduced to Dr, Boaz Avitall, a Chicago Cardiologist, via a mutual friend. It couldn’t have come at a better, more opportune time. Dr. Avitall dreamed of a wearable device that did not leave him constantly searching for a way to sanitize his hands while on the move visiting patients in the hospital.
With my background in product design and inventing, it was a match made in heaven. We later founded Ready Squirt LLC and had a dedicated mission to develop a wrist band dispenser for the purposes of having way to dispense hand sanitizer directly to the palm of your hand while on the go (as Dr. Avitall would in the hospital). During the next 6 months we developed over 200 prototypes until settling on a current design. This new Wrist Dispenser blends fashion and function and safety. Style and a fashion forward approach is critical to anything succeeding. If a product is too bulky or makes you feel self-conscious, you will be less likely to use it. AND the best feedback we received was from Dr. Avitall’s colleagues at the hospital who all use it!
How are things going with this new initiative?
In the midst of Covid-19 it has been our mission to make a difference in reducing the spread of infection. The economic and stylish device has proven to bring convenience, safety and a fashion statement to our customers. We are learning that Wrist Dispenser has many legs even post-covid-sunscreen, bug repellent, outdoor enthusiasts, seniors, the sky’s the limit.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
Receiving first-hand the gratitude from someone when you restore some sense of normalcy in this uncertain Covid world. The Wrist Dispenser has delivered the confidence to touch something and be safe. Empowering someone to live with a little less fear has been rewarding to a level I could never properly express.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- If you love something as a hobby, be aware that making it a business will certainly be different. I often use the statement, “if you like mowing the lawn, the last thing you want to do is start a lawn mowing business, because the last thing you will be doing is mowing lawns, you will be consumed with business management and operational duties”.
- Relationships are as important as Products or Services. You may have the best product or service out there, but people like to do business with people they like and trust. If someone likes you, they will look over your faults, however if they don’t like you, they will use or find any reason to not to do business with you.
- “Never hire someone you cannot fire”. It’s human nature to want to bring your friends and family along on an exciting adventure. However, in a professional environment many social dynamics change or are manipulated because of a preexisting relationship. Friends or family may exercise special privileges that can be damaging to the entire company. Having two sets of rules for different employees is both unethical and unfair. If a change does happen, you risk both losing an employee and a friend.
- If they are not willing to put it in writing, they are probably not going to do it.
- Last but not least, Make time for family. A business owner has no shortage of responsibilities and urgencies constantly pulling at him or her. Work life balance is by far the most challenging aspect to manage. The common dilemma, “finish the important proposal, or watch your child in their school musical”. Both can be once in a lifetime event. This is a hidden demon that haunts business owners in achieving a healthy Work Life Balance.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I try to stay focused on growing Wrist Dispenser and providing a new form of PPE for the everyday consumer and first responder. My work keeps me grounded and always creative.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Grow Empathy. If the world was generally Kinder and more aware of what others are experiencing or how they are being challenged, the path they took, I think we would behave in a manner that would breed kindness, patience, and selfless generosity. I believe there is no world problem that won’t improve if we all care about others as much as we care about ourselves.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Being selfish “Bill Murray”. He undoubtedly shaped my humor. But if I am looking for someone whose crazy matches my crazy, Elon Musk.
That was the most difficult question. Having worked in large network television for years I have met almost everyone. Barack, Clinton, Elton, little Richard, Adam Sandler, Bill Cosby and the list goes on for miles. When immersed in their environment you realize most don’t have the bandwidth to actually show interest in every person they meet. Spending time with someone who actually cares about you is the most rewarding.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!