Sponsored by Oregon Business

Startup develops high tech hunting suit

| Print |  Email
Articles - February 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011


HECS hunting suits are designed to outwit the "sixth sense" that helps prey animals identify danger and flee. // Photo courtesy HECS

Mike Slinkard was born and raised in John Day, and like most of his peers he went straight from high school to a job in the woods. Those jobs didn’t last. Rather than cling to what was left of the local timber industry, Slinkard turned his passion for bow hunting into his livelihood.

He started with a shop in town. Then in 2000 he launched Winner’s Choice Custom Bow Strings, which has grown to $3 million in annual sales and 38 employees. His latest venture is Human Energy Concealment Systems, an apparel company focused on blocking the electromagnetic field emitted by the human body.

The idea came from a conversation with employee and fellow bow hunter Max Maupin about the “sixth sense” that enables prey animals to escape danger. Maupin put his degree in animal science to work and tracked down a study that showed how cud-chewing animals respond to minor changes in electromagnetic fields as a survival mechanism.

Slinkard and Maupin designed a hunting suit with electricity-conducting carbon woven into a grid to block the electromagnetic field (prices start at $149). A partnership with a New Zealand fabric company and a Taiwanese factory followed, and they released their HECS hunting suit at a national archery trade show in Columbus, Ohio, in 2010.

Slinkard promoted the product with full-page ads in archery publications and television spots on outdoor channels. Sales started slow, then picked up with the fall hunting season. Returning to this year’s archery show, Slinkard found reviews were positive. “We still have some skeptics, but they aren’t people who have tried it,” he says.

Slinkard, 45, imports the hunting suits fully made and ships them to market from John Day. But he may manufacture locally if his other ideas take off. The company has five patents pending, one of which covers wetsuits for diving and surfing, to protect people from sharks. He also has an agreement with a Virginia Beach-based company to handle military contracts (think Navy Seals).

If he can land a military contract, “Buy American” requirements would bring new jobs to Grant County, where unemployment is 14.3% and Slinkard is one of just two tenants at the John Day Industrial Park.

“It’s going to be a worldwide company,” he predicts. “There’s no doubt about it.”


More Articles

Let it Rain

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

This year has been so dry we were caught napping when it finally started to sprinkle. Hopefully you didn’t get caught in a downpour while eagerly awaiting — don’t deny it — our curation of Oregon-grown wet weather wear.


Storyteller in Chief: Power Player

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In 1996, after a 17-year career in the destination marketing industry, where I gained national standing as the CEO of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County, I was recruited by the founders of a new professional basketball league for women. The American Basketball League (ABL) hoped to leverage the success of the 1996 USA women’s national team at the Atlanta Olympics — much like USA Soccer is now leveraging the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory in the World Cup. The ABL wanted a team in Portland, and they wanted me to be its general manager.


New green wood building product takes off in Oregon

Thursday, September 10, 2015
091115-cltjohnson-thumbBY KIM MOORE

Oregon is set to become a hub of a new type of wooden building design as a southern Oregon timber company becomes the first certified manufacturer of a high-tech wood product, known as cross-laminated timber, or CLT.


The List: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For project attracted more than 150 nonprofits from around the state from a variety of sectors, including social services and environmental advocacy.  More than 5,000 employees and volunteers filled out the survey, rating their satisfaction with work environment, mission and goals, career development and learning, benefits and compensation, and management and communications.


Grain Food

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Power Lunch at Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Restaurant.


Big Geek

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

To attract technology companies, the U.S. Bancorp Tower repositions itself as open, light and playful.


Up on the Roof

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In 2010 Vanessa Keitges and several investors purchased Portland-based Columbia Green Technologies, a green-roof company. The 13-person firm has a 200% annual growth rate, exports 30% of its product to Canada and received its first infusion of venture capital in 2014 from Yaletown Venture Partners. CEO Keitges, 40, a Southern Oregon native who serves on President Obama’s Export Council, talks about market innovation, scaling small business and why Oregon is falling behind in green-roof construction. 

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02