MT. PLEASANT —A young Utah company is sponsoring a New York man working to support his family.
Hal Marks once made a six-figure salary in sales and marketing, but lost his job when the financial crises brought cuts to his company. After trying to find work in his field for almost three years and suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, he was out of savings and close to losing his home.
“I was making a very, very good living, had a nice home and two beautiful children, the quasi-American dream and that all came to a halt,” Marks said.
At age 53, Marks took an entry-level job with a high-rise construction company to support his family.
“It was about sending a message to my kids that sometimes you’ve got to just pull your boots on and do what you’ve got to do," Marks said. "It’s as simple as having enough money to eat and stay off bill collectors."
However, with his age and a heart condition the approaching cold threatened to keep him from work. He decided to do some research and reach out to a few companies, which led him to Utah-based Aeris.
“I actually wrote to them one Sunday afternoon on the couch and got a phone call maybe just an hour or so later from the president of the company saying there was no way in the world they were going to get an email like that and hear a story like that and not be proactive about it,” Marks said.
Aeris specializes in a lightweight insulation technology for industry workers who are in the cold for extended periods of time.
“I thought, you know, if there’s an opportunity to help him we want to do that,” said company president Don Thomason. “We’ve found ourselves, my business partner and I, in similar situations throughout our lives, so if we could help someone else along the way ... that’s what we (wanted to do).”
With the Farmer's Almanac predicting an especially cold winter, Marks said Aeris' gift will make a difference.
“Don’s gift was really, really, really special,” Marks said. “It is going to enable me to work on days typically I would have to take off because of my heart condition and my age. Missing a day or two for someone in my position is really catastrophic. It makes a big difference in my life, what they’ve done for me.”
Missing a day or two for someone in my position is really catastrophic. It makes a big difference in my life, what they've done for me.
Aeris is still a relatively new company. Thomason's partner discovered the technology in 2011 and invited him to help in 2012. He said they are continuing to improve the technology and saw a lot of success at a recent National Safety Council gathering in Chicago.
He said their technology is special because of how lightweight it is and its ability to insulate, block wind and manage moisture. Eventually they want to become a brand like Goretex that is used in other company's clothing.
“Everybody in the workplace knows and understands that the way we typically deal with cold is we use layers and layers and layers and on top of those layers we put a heavy jacket, yet we’re still cold and it’s heavy and bulky, which limits mobility and dexterity,” Thomason said. "The other companies saw this technology and how light weight it is and ... we really got a lot of attention and have a lot of great opportunities now under way because of it.”
While Marks is still concerned about providing for his teenage children, especially with the holiday season, he is grateful for the help he has received.
“It’s been a tough road, but it was inspiring to a certain degree to have somebody like Don and his company step up for something that some may think is really simple, pants and a jacket," he said. "It meant a lot and it’s going to make a difference for me.”