Taylorsville — As unlikely as it may seem on the surface, VibraShine Inc., a maker of products primarily for the hunting and outdoors markets, is an offshoot of a furniture component manufacturing operation. And, just as its story is unique, so are VibraShine’s products.
“Don (Saxon) and I worked together at Sunbeam before we started Warmkraft,” said Roger Lack, president of VibraShine. “Our background is in electronics. We simply took the products we developed for the furniture industry and adapted them into our outdoor and hunting products using our electronics experience.”
In 1984, Lack and Bay Springs native Saxon established Warmkraft Inc., a manufacturing operation supplying massage and heating components to the furniture industry. Warmkraft, from its 105,000-square-foot facility, currently employs approximately 150 workers. (VibraShine joined Warmkraft at the present facility in 1994.)
While busy, the two men did have some leisure time. Both are avid hunting and shooting enthusiast, and saw a need for more reasonably priced vibratory tumblers, which are used to clean brass cases for reloading ammunition. And, they knew exactly where they could find them — at Warmkraft.
“Tumblers back then cost way over $100,” Lack said. “Our first model, which was a little smaller than other tumblers, was about $40. When they come out of our tumblers, they are clean and look better than they did brand new.”
The first big order
In 1987, VibraShine was formed, with Lack as president. (Saxon serves as president of Warmkraft.) VibraShine took its product, which incorporated the vibratory component originally developed for furniture, to a trade show in Dallas and created a large amount of positive buzz, though no direct sales. However, a subsequent initial order of approximately $80,000 got the company rolling. Today, it is well positioned and still growing.
“We’re one of the bigger players in the market now,” said Lack, a native of Mize.
Its tumblers firmly established, VibraShine has since introduced other innovative products. An example is the Heat-A-Meal, a portable food warmer that plugs into cigarette lighters of cars, trucks or boats. According to VibraShine, the 12-volt Heat-A-Meal can be used for up to 10 continuous hours with the engine off without running down the battery. It can heat non-frozen food to 160 degrees in two hours, and keeps food hot for up to 12 hours without loss of taste, texture or quality.
Another innovative offering is the Leaf River Scent Heater. The product warms game attractants and scent covers via inexpensive hand warmers. This provides more scent to be broadcast in colder weather, and the unit is even effective at temperatures below freezing.
VibraShine, which employs seven workers, also offers gun-cleaning patches, big-game gambrels (for hanging bagged game) and Leaf River camouflaged apparel, as well. (The previous owner of the Warmkraft facility was a garment manufacturer, and, according to Lack, VibraShine was one of the first to offer loose-leaf camouflage so popular today.)
The company has earned customers from throughout the U.S. and as far away as Europe and Australia.
Capturing the quarry
A large part of that success can be attributed to VibraShine’s trail monitors and game cameras. Nation’s Best Sports wrote in its “Industry Report” that “VibraShine Inc. has earned a reputation for producing high-quality game cameras at a reasonable price with its Leaf River Outdoor Products 35mm and digital game cameras.”
Looking to maximize their hunting time, Lack and Saxon developed 35mm game cameras and trail monitors back in the 1990s, but then went to digital cameras in 2003. The Leaf River Trail Monitor uses a passive infrared motion detector that senses both motion and heat. The units record date and time in a memory cache that can hold 500 detections.
Obviously, these game cameras and trail monitors have found ready buyers from non-hunting outdoor enthusiasts. However, they have also opened up new markets, providing a state-of-the-art tool used in security applications.
These non-hunters should like VibraShine’s next product rollout — infrared cameras. These cameras will allow photographs taken at night, and are expected to be available “in May or so,” according to Lack.
Also, VibraShine plans to launch its new picture viewer July 1. The battery-powered reader will allow users to immediately view photographs taken with their digital cameras without having to leave the woods.
All of these products will be available on VibraShine’s new Web site, http://www.vibrashine.com/, which went live last April. Lack said VibraShine’s online sales have been good, and hopes the new site, designed and hosted by U.S. NetworX of Jackson, will bring in even more “virtual customers.”
Lack said VibraShine would simply continue to use its formula of adapting its electronics products to innovative hunting and outdoors products in the future.
“We’ll find more areas we can develop,” he said.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at firstname.lastname@example.org.