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We Interview Chris L. Fuentes, Founder & CEO of Ranger Ready Repellents

CHRIS FUENTES

Kevin

What inspired you to create Ranger Ready?

Chris 

I personally got Lyme disease, I’ve lived in “Lyme country” for over a decade now, and watching folks, dogs, friends and everyone around me getting Lyme disease, I started to wonder why is this happening? And what I realized was people don’t like insect repellents. They never used them, they didn’t think much of DEET – even I didn’t think much of DEET. 

It began a process where we started to look for an alternative active ingredient, and we landed on the creation of Ranger Ready.  We wanted to stop our kids and our grandkids from being bitten by ticks first and foremost, and then that evolved into mosquitos and other biting insects. And now Ranger Ready is focused on protecting future generations of our families because it is really a game changer in your life.  If I think about my life, I am over 60 now, but back in the 60s I could run anywhere I wanted to with my family dog and I never had to think about ticks or mosquitos.  These days, it is very clear that with Lyme disease and West Nile Virus you have to think constantly about protecting yourself and your family and stop getting bitten. So that is why we invented Ranger Ready.

Kevin  

You got Lyme disease yourself?

Chris  

I did. I had an interesting bout with Lyme disease actually. I played golf all summer and cycled and was pretty healthy, but at the end of the summer I was not feeling all that well. I ended up going to bed one night and woke up with a big red thing on my leg. I went to the hospital and they said, “Well, you have MRSA, you have a flesh eating disease and we’re going to keep you in the hospital, isolate you, and monitor you to see what’s going to happen.”

They weren’t sure what to do because the mark kept getting bigger – it had gone all the way from my groin down into my knee. It was a long, elongated inflammation. However, I ended up having an infectious disease doctor come into my room as they were literally prepping me for surgery and told me that I didn’t need surgery – that I had Lyme disease. The mark was my body reacting to the bite of a tick, which had happened probably three or four days before.  You know, being a typical male, I ignored it for the first several days and then all of the sudden I couldn’t stand it anymore and ended up in the hospital. They put me on a rigorous treatment of antibiotics and I was in that ward of the hospital for three weeks, but I feel like I was one of the lucky ones.  So many people never get a bullseye that lets them know they have Lyme disease and by the time they find out it is a very hard journey for them.

Kevin  

I think that’s what we kind of see in the hunting community is a lot of hunters get Lyme disease, but they don’t know that they have it. And so, by the time that they get treatment, or they get seen by a doctor, it’s been three to six months and they’re like, I don’t know why I don’t feel good.

Chris 

I kind of have to admit that being the stubborn male that I am, I ignored it. It’s that period of ignoring the situation where you don’t know – you have the uncertainty and you don’t know how you got it. In fact, only half of the people actually see a bullseye from being bitten by a tick.  You only have half the chance to be right, and I was lucky with a huge inflammation that told the doctor that I got bitten. 

One of the hardest things about hunting is that you have to be tick aware.  Standing alongside of a stream you can get ticks because the animals come to water and ticks drop off near the water.  Hunters are starting to realize that it is not just the deer but it’s also rabbits, squirrels, racoons, mice and even song birds that have ticks.  These animals don’t have to get bitten, but they can carry ticks into your yard or where you are hunting.

I think the key thing that hunters need to know is that they can protect themselves and they don’t have to get bitten.  There are options out there that are safe and can protect them.

Kevin  

Here in Nebraska, we’ve been seeing more and more ticks while turkey hunting, and specifically ticks on the turkeys themselves.  It kind of shocked me turkey hunting and seeing so many of the small micro sized ticks and getting tore up by chiggers, as well, during turkey season.  Between the chiggers and the ticks, being focused on having the right protection is almost more important than which calls you have with you.

Chris

I think the key here is the awareness and understanding that those little tiny nymphs, they are buggers, they’re really hard to see.  One of the things we love to do is help hunters understand that dogs are also tick magnets.  We love these dogs and they are really important to us. I have a new puppy, and as much as we love our animals they are absolute vectors for ticks.  They can easily transmit ticks to children, too, as the dogs crawl all over the backseat or play with the kids.  It’s important to have an understanding of where ticks can pop up.  Having a dog, being a hunter, these are great things, but they carry a responsibility to be aware.  We are even seeing snakes pop up in the southern hemisphere with ticks on them.

Kevin

Snakes?

Chris

Yes, in the South Pacific and down on the delta, these ticks are embedded into the neck of the snakes. They get under their skin and the ticks can live quite happily there. We are seeing not just one tick but multiples ticks. It gives you serious pause. But, the biggest vector right now in the upper Midwest like Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota is the migrating songbirds.  These songbirds are picking up ticks in the southern regions and transporting them in at every location they stop, including at people’s backyard feeders. With climate changes and changing wind patterns these song birds are going a little further North and a little further South each year.  Birds carry these ticks underneath their wings and on their necks. Bird feeders attract the song birds so we recommend pulling down these feeders to prevent ticks from dropping off in your yards.

Kevin 

I hadn’t really thought of that.  I might have to consider pulling down my backyard bird feeders and focus on just feeding the hummingbirds and orioles during the summer.  Ranger Ready is very focused on Permethrin (clothing-worn repellent) and Picaridin (body-worn repellent).  I think with the release of the P2 Pack hunters are going to be really interested in learning more about that combination.

Chris

We started with Picaridin 20%, which is the active ingredient that has been the leader in Europe for decades. It was developed over 30 years ago for the World Health Organization to help fight malaria in the hearts of African jungles and in places where they were really struggling because people weren’t using effective repellents.  I grew up around the military and DEET was a part of our family routine. There is a reluctance of the new soldiers, and many folks just don’t want to put that on. Even government agencies have realized that enough gear is being ruined and they want to use something different. 

Kevin

When your lips are tingling, you know, it’s bad.

Chris 

Yes – we know prolonged use of DEET isn’t a good alternative.  Everybody has been looking around the world for a solution and Picaridin is a safe and effective alternative to DEET.  It has all of the benefits of protection and in the same amount of protection levels for types of species and insects.  And it doesn’t have is those negative side effects. The big key between Picaridin and DEET is that Picaridin is absorbed at 6% and DEET is absorbed at three times that rate, so 18%. That’s why it takes three applications of DEET to protect yourself for 24 hours, and only two applications of Picaridin to protect yourself for 24 hours from ticks and mosquitoes. Absorption rate is a really big difference here.

The other part of this is that DEET is a plasticizer and a neurotoxin.  When we started talking to the military, they were really upset when those $60,000 scopes get sprayed with DEET and are ruined for life.  When it’s a soldier’s personal items or military items, and they need to survive and they are ruined by this chemical, it’s a major problem. So Picaridin just doesn’t do that, and that is just outstanding for anyone who is using this. Also, Picaridin itself is odorless. Obviously hunters do not want scent and that is why we created our Scent Zero product specifically for hunters. We also knew all along that we would develop a product for clothing worn repellents.  We developed Permethrin 0.5% which you spray on your clothing, you let it dry and it stays active on your clothing for up to 30 days or five washes.  When you wear the combination of the P2 Pak, Permethrin and Picaridin, it allows you to double up on your protection.  Permethrin on your clothes and Picaridin on your skin offers you complete protection from ticks, mosquitoes and other biting insects.

Kevin  

What other things should hunters be on the lookout for?

Chris  

Well, the first thing hunters should be on the lookout for is themselves, and that means to look after the ticks and mosquitoes you know about.  You need to know your environment and know that at 35 degrees ground temperature ticks are starting to emerge. In your area of the Midwest there is West Nile Virus from mosquitos, and you have some interesting new diseases that are coming from Asian Tiger mosquitos out of Illinois and Detroit, Michigan.  Protecting yourself with repellents properly and wearing them religiously is important. You don’t want to forget about this because any bite these days can be the one that hurts you. 

When you come home from hunting you want to de-robe, shower and do a complete tick check before putting on new clothes.  Put the clothes into the dryer and run them all at high heat for 20 minutes, which will kill the ticks. And, if for some reason you are not feeling well, say something as quickly as possible.  Don’t be typical male and not say something. Go in and get checked out because getting treatment early can save your life.

Kevin   

Does that high heat effect the application of the Permethrin?

Chris

No, the Permethrin bonds to the clothing when it dries. The only way to get the Permethrin off is washing more than 5 times or the degradation of time and oxidization over 30 days.  It really comes down to making sure that you can wear those clothes again and again and make sure that you renew your Permethrin treatment every 30 days.

Kevin  

Tell me a little bit about your Scent Zero for hunters.

Chris

We are a young brand.  We started our first trade show in March of 2018 in Suffern, New York at the World Fishing Expo.  I had never been to a fishing or hunting expo.  We set up our trade show and sold our first bottles.  We didn’t even have production fully established yet.  We had a great show and one of the hunters who came up to us at the show told us, “You know, you guys are pretty smart, but I’d make something that’s completely unscented, doesn’t smell so hunters can really enjoy the fact that it doesn’t smell.” So, we went to work. We took on the challenge head on and developed Scent Zero and the trigger spray at the same time.  The trigger spray head allows people to use the repellent more generously on themselves, and we are finding that hunters really like our product. Season after season they are using our product and the news is travelling through word of mouth.  We are also making a pretty great entry into the fishing market.  Ranger Ready Picaridin does have to be reapplied after your hands get wet, but what is great about it is that it is not greasy, not sticky, doesn’t deteriorate your line or your reel or equipment.  Trout and bass anglers are telling us they really like the formula – that is pretty exciting to us.

We also launched Permethrin directly for hunters. We knew that hunters understood Permethrin and wanted to use it, so we created our formula and created the P2 Pak specifically in Scent Zero for hunters.  We are hearing from hunters who are using it and telling us that deer are coming in and they are not able to smell them.  It’s been a really great fun ride and we encourage hunters to reach out to us directly and share their stories on social media using the hashtag #rangerreadyrepellents. 

Kevin 

I appreciate that you have created a product that’s safe for my gear and that hunters will be able to use in the field and I really like that you have created a product that is safe for my entire family.

Chris 

Yes, our repellents are safe for your kids.  Picaridin and Permethrin are approved by the CDC, recommended by the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics, and all of our products are registered with the EPA.  We also wanted to make sure that we created a good and effective product for women who are pregnant, children over one years old and for adults and regular use for all people.  My mom is a gardener and she is 89 years old and is using our product every day.  Gardening is a very important part of her lifestyle and that activity keeps her young, so I am glad we can keep her safe in her own backyard.  The other thing that was important to us, and especially to our team here, was that we didn’t want to use aerosol cans.  We are not trying to fill landfills and we’re not trying to harm the environment in any way.  All of our products are 100% recyclable.  These bottles are designed to spray 360-degrees, even upside down, with a special pump we designed so it allows you to spray the back of your neck or behind your head and when the bottle is empty it can go into the recycle bin.

The folks at the Navy Seals training center in Chesapeake, Virginia, buy our 24-ounce bottles in lots of 40 bottles at a time.  We built this product to stand out for families, anyone that works outside and folks that enjoy the outdoors. 

Kevin

I bet the Navy Seals really appreciate that everything you produce at Ranger Ready is built right here in the United States just like I appreciate that fact.

Chris 

That is 100% correct.  We are here in Norwalk, Connecticut, and we have a small distribution center.  We have a small family-owned bottling facility that is 300 yards down the road, and they provide weekly production for us.  Our first order was 300 boxes, and I just bought 300 pallets a few weeks ago. We make all of our cardboard boxes custom designed in Danbury, Connecticut, and all of our labels are made across the river in Hudson Valley. I think our local and Made in the USA supply chain has been one of the things that’s not only made a difference for us but helped to set us apart from the competition. 

Kevin 

So, it’s growing exponentially.

Chris   

It’s going a little bit faster than we anticipated – it’s very exciting. Our mission is to stem the increase of tick-borne diseases and mosquito-borne diseases and to stop people from being bitten.  Our goal is to help people learn one step at a time. We know it is hard to educate somebody on their way to prevention. We are getting the message out to hunters about how bad the growth of Lyme disease and West Nile virus is for people and how best to protect themselves.  The military is learning very quickly, birdwatchers are starting to learn, drone fliers are learning, farmers are learning, and we want to help hunters and outdoorsmen learn how to protect themselves from getting bitten.

Kevin  

I appreciate the dedication to making sure you know your entire product is made here in the United States. I think that is important for our military as well as the outdoors, fishing and hunting community and the boost for our national economy

Chris

Right from the start we created Ranger Ready to meet our criteria of being able to work for a full shift.  We know for most working professionals in police, fire, military, park rangers, game wardens and other uniformed professionals are all working 12-hour days.  We created Ranger Ready with Picaridin 20% to work for a full 12 hours so you could know that you were protected.  We had in mind that we wanted to be able to offer first responders and uniformed professionals a special discount.  We have hooked up with ID.Me which is a national system where they identify uniformed professionals within their database and it allows us to give $10.00 off for all purchases as reward them for using it regularly. This is important and allows us to say thank you for being a uniformed professional and looking after all of us.

Kevin   

Having grown up in a United States Forest Service family, we went through a lot of bug repellent on a pretty regular basis. Chris, thank you for taking time out of your very busy day to meet with us and share the great news at Ranger Ready.

Chris  

Thank you for sharing our news with the outdoor community.

The post We Interview Chris L. Fuentes, Founder & CEO of Ranger Ready Repellents appeared first on Hunting and Hunting Gear Reviews.


Source: Huntinglife

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