Local Business: Get a Grip
By Christina Freeman
Mike and Gillian Morris on the mountain with sons Olson and Kane and nephew Charlie. Photo courtesy Elisa Maines.
By Suzi Mitchell
On July 9, 2012, Steamboat Springs-based couple Mike and Gillian Morris, embarked on a venture they never anticipated. Unfortunate circumstances led to the beginning of what has since evolved into an incredible business opportunity. Mike Morris was attending University of Wisconsin in 1997 when he met a man who went by only one name: Derik. “He became what I called my brother from another mother,” Morris recalls. They graduated university, with Derik forging a career in law enforcement, working at Lake Powell as a park ranger, then boat sheriff. In 2006, the friends were reunited at a bachelor party on Lake Powell, where Derik discussed concerns about handling firearms in a hot climate. Morris explained, “At 110 degrees a firearm gets slippery.” As a competition shooter, firearms instructor and armorer, Derik noticed other competitive shooters using skateboard tape on different parts of the gun to get a better grip, but it looked unsightly.
During that weekend, Derik discussed a business idea employing tape in a functional design that was aesthetically pleasing. The vision was to create a product with maximum traction and minimum bulk. In 2009, Derik applied for a patent and starting selling his invention on eBay.
Derik died unexpectedly in 2012. It had been his last wish that Morris take over the company. By then Morris was living in Steamboat Springs with wife, Gillian, running several local businesses.
Morris found himself on a new career path, immersed in design and planning. “My
education background is math- and science-based, so although I never studied it,
I have an engineering mentality,” Morris says. Two-plus years later, Morris is
proud of the national recognition Talon Grips is receiving. “When we started,
we sold 20 different grips; now we are up to 170.” Agreements are in place with
gun manufacturers to send new products to Steamboat so Morris can have grips
made to fit when a gun is available for sale.
Today Talon Grips has a loyal following,
with purchases made by military and law
enforcement professionals, plus competitive
shooters. Specialist groups have carried out
testing and evaluation on these products,
including a tw0-month trial by United
States Special Operations Command, which oversees high level military units. After testing in multiple environments including high mountain, desert and jungle, SOCOM placed an order for 6,000 grips.
The National Tactical Officers Association, well-known for training SWAT enforcement officers, gave Talon Grip a score of 4.82 points out of a possible 5, during a recent evaluation. Talon Grips is committed to the idea that their products emphasize gun safety. “We’re making guns safer to handle, which we believe can prevent an accident from happening.”
Talon Grips has been making headlines in a wide range of printed and digital media pertaining to firearms. Despite controversy surrounding the industry in recent years, Morris has heard only positive feedback regarding its unique products.
Talon Grips recently added covers for I-Phones 4 and 5, based on the same rubberized material as one of its firearms lines, using a wrap-around adhesive design. All production is done in-house at the company’s Copper Ridge warehouse on the west side of Steamboat. Material is sourced within the U.S., with cutting, packaging and order processing completed locally.
At the rate Talon Grips is growing, it is definitely here to stay. Morris plans to keep the company based in Steamboat, a town, he, Gillian and their two sons call home. “We just love the lifestyle, this is the place we want to raise our kids,” Morris says.