Daniel Alarik is the founder and CEO of a Chicago-area company, exactly what he didn’t want to do when he graduated high school and joined the army.
“I wanted to do something greater than myself,” he says. “I actually had huge disdain for business. I wanted to do something bigger.”
Out of training right before 9/11, Daniel was deployed to Bosnia and Kosivo before becoming a drill sergeant in Fort Benning, Georgia. In 2011, with a new baby, it was time to come back to Chicagoland.
“I wanted to do something where I could bring that pride and patriotism that I had in that whole military culture,” he says. “I literally Googled, ‘What is business?’ I specifically remember because I had no idea what I was doing.”
That is when Grunt Style Apparel company was born.
Six years later it is a 50,000-square foot facility covering five and a half acres in west suburban Carol Stream.
But its beginnings were a lot different.
“A lot of times I’d travel around the country selling out of the back of my car,” Daniel says. “I’d sleep in my car.. I still had a military ID so I’d go to a local base and I’d shower in the gym and then go back to work selling out of the back of my car. The first three years were horrible.”
Daniel was focused, not just on the patriotic clothing and hats he was printing, but the message he hopes to spread across the country.
“It’s our mission to take that pride we have, that same cultured pride that you find in the military or hard core patriots, and it’s our job to re-patriot-ize the United States.”
Former Marine Tim Jenson had gone to college out of the service but found returning to civilian life extremely difficult. But he could relate to Grunt Style’s approach and Daniel’s background.
Tim went from a press, to a team leader, to a production manager and four years later is now the company’s chief operating officer. He is one of 90 veterans now working for the company, making up half of its workforce.
The online men’s and women’s apparel was just the beginning. While designers crank out the inspirational designs up front, another team pours over its new online publication “American Grit” that includes everything pertaining to and for military families and veterans in the news and beyond.
From printing in his basement to printing more than a hundred thousand pieces a month, Daniel served his country and now lives the American Dream which he hopes makes it into every American household.