By OSD Staff Writer Ann Green
Put together a Marine pilot, his Navy SEAL brother, and an appearance on Shark Tank, and what do you get? Tucson-based Bottle Breacher, one of the fastest growing veteran-owned and operated businesses in Arizona.
The Former Navy SEAL is Eli Crane. He and his wife, Jen, founded Bottle Breacher in 2013, selling custom-engraved bottle openers made from .50-caliber bullets. Eli got the idea from his younger brother Gabe, the Marine pilot, who brought back a similar opener after his deployment in the Philippines. While walking through a shopping area, Gabe had found a .50 caliber bottle opener. He later gave the opener to Eli, who recalls, “I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen and so did all my buddies. And then I had the idea that I could make it better.” The company’s first products were manufactured in the Cranes’ one-car garage and given to friends for free. “When I saw people’s reactions to it and knowing I was getting out of the Navy, I thought it would be something special, so I pursued the concept,” says Eli. At the beginning, the Cranes expanded their business through Amazon and Etsy. Eli sold his motorcycle to buy a laser engraving machine. Within six months the Cranes had reached $7,500 a month in sales.
The Cranes hit pay dirt through their appearance on Shark Tank in November of 2014. They brought their .50 caliber Bottle Breacher and met Shark Tank stars and investors Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary. The Cranes convinced Cuban and O’Leary to invest $150,000 for a 20 percent stake, split evenly. More than 20,000 orders poured in after the Cranes’ Shark Tank appearance. Within a week they reached $1 million in sales. By 2015, the company had made $5 million and is now closing in on $17 million. Most sales are made online directly to consumers.
Bottle Breacher has since expanded its product line to include wine openers, six-pack coolers, coasters, key chains, cozies, cigar punches, and humidors, hats and t-shirts. The MOAB, Mother of All Breachers, is made from a decommissioned shell from a 30mm cannon. The Combat Cooler is made from a specially modified military ammo can. Whiskey Bullets, bullet-shaped stainless steel ice cube substitutes, are stored in the freezer until it’s time to plop them into your favorite drink to cool it off. All Bottle Breacher’s products can be customized with gift packaging, laser engraving, or custom color schemes.
Eli is proud to point out that all products are made in the United States. The Cranes, married over 12 years, love to hire vets, their way of reinvesting in those that have served.
Eli served in the Navy for 14 years. His five deployments included three in Iraq as a Navy SEAL. He met Glenn Banton, CEO of Operations Supply Drop, at a veteran’s event in Texas and, says Eli, “I felt a synergy between their mission and our secondary mission here at Bottle Breacher—to support and give back to our service men and women.”
Some of the product ideas have been Eli’s, he explains, “while some come from other people and using social media as a barometer to gauge whether potential customers feel the same about the ideas and visions we have.” Their customers says Eli, “are for the most part people who are primarily buying gifts for men who like badass, quality, made in the USA products. We feature an ever-expanding product line serving customers both domestically and internationally. Our goal is to provide the best handcrafted, personalized man-gifts, groomsman gifts, and corporate/promotional products on the market.”
In addition to hiring veterans, the Cranes have donated to more than 280 veterans’ events and organizations, including Wishes for Warriors, Joggin’ for Frogmen (operated by the Navy SEAL Foundation), Folds of Honor and the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit. They support military veterans and active military personnel, as well as first responders, children’s foundations and other non-profits. The company has a 20 percent veteran hiring rate.
“If cash is king, having a mission is queen,” Eli told reporter Faith Isbell of the Dallas Business Journal. “Not only do we provide people with quality products and gifts, we can make sure that veterans that are coming behind us don’t struggle as much as we did and those that have come before us.” He added that Bottle Breacher’s authenticity is what makes the company stand out. “We’re honest about who we are and what we’re about,” said Eli. “Because of my background, being a Navy SEAL for nine years, I love my country a lot more than I love my business. We stand for the things that we believe in, regardless of whether it’s popular or not.”
Bottle Breacher has generously donated to OSD’s Vetober giveaway! Enter today for your chance to win a custom OSD 30MM MOAB Bottle Breacher and other amazing products from Veteran owned and Veteran friendly businesses. Contest ends on October 31, 2018.