(WJHL) — This week’s Community Hero built his business from the ground up. He and his wife saw a need for personalized products and took a leap of faith, but he says it’s not all about the money. He wants to build connections with people.
Kristopher Yarber wanted to do something meaningful. After serving in the Marine Corps as a machine gunner, he came back home and wanted more than a job: he wanted a connection with people.
“Did those four years, did two trips to Iraq, was lucky enough to hit the invasion of Nasiriyah and went back for Fallujah,” Yarber said.
After a stint as a deputy, Kristopher and his wife Randi took their love for working out, and a need for a weightlifting belt, and turned it into a business after problems finding a quality belt for a good price, and a quicker turnaround.
“I realized it was kind of fun, and that creative outlet was something I didn’t realize I would like,” he said.
The Yarbers make weightlifting belts, each one by hand. Kristopher cuts the belts and works the leather, and Randi adds personal touches, from names to designs that are meaningful to each customer. That, he says, sets them apart from big manufactures just punching out leather.
“Personalization is more than just ‘hey, I want this color'”, Yarber said. “I want someone who is making my stuff for me who knows what they’re making and why they’re making it and what it’s used for.”
In a year, Belt-Fed Strength products can be found on almost every continent.
“It’s pretty surreal, for sure,” Yarber said.
Yarber wants to take the success of his business, and pay it forward. One way is to host weightlifting events with the proceeds going to non-profit organizations.
“Any kind of charity that we can find that can do some kind of good in the community, we would like to point the proceeds of the competition in that direction and show people,” he said. “…It’s not just a sport where you throw heavy stuff around and scream and yell and act wild. You can do some good with it. It’s therapeutic.”
Simple goals for this former Marine who knows the value of honest work and giving back to the community.