As a company that values function, performance and quality above all else, customization is a cornerstone of the Zeagle brand and central to its ethos of patriotism and service. Over the years, we’ve built our reputation making tough, durable products—made to order—for the unique needs of your team or business.
A big part of what enables us to deliver on these values and meet your high expectations is our one-of-a-kind in-house Salt Lake City workshop where we handcraft our custom BCDs to meet your specific requirements.
Besides having access to top-notch talent, we keep Zeagle’s workshop in Salt Lake City in order to comply with the Berry Amendment, which restricts the Department of Defense (DoD) from using clothing, fabrics, fibers and other made-up textiles that aren’t produced in the United States.
Being in compliance with the Berry Amendment means that we prioritize the employment of local families, use domestic supply chains and reinvest resources back into the communities that our service members call home.
But what exactly goes into making a custom BCD? To get some answers, we sat down (and got to work) with Zeagle Product Manager Mani Fifita to learn more about his team’s dynamic process.
Q) Hey Mani, tell us a little about the process of building a custom BCD?
Mani) Step #1 is cutting. It all starts with the customer choosing which BC model they want—from extra small, all the way to 5x—in the Ranger, Stiletto, Zena and Brigade models. Most of our custom orders are for the Ranger, Stiletto and Zena.
As soon as the sales order comes through and I’ve reviewed it, I give it to our cutter, Trina, who takes a look. With each order, we have a BOM (bill of materials) that lists all the materials and components that we’ll be using for any given BC—it breaks down everything we use, from the size, materials, hardware…everything we need to build.
Following the BOM, we grab all the materials we need, then Trina will cut the shoulder, pockets, vest; and she’ll pick all the components, like the webbing, the cummerbund, etc; and then she’ll put all of it into a bin.
Q) What happens next?
Mani) After all of the cuts are made and the materials are collected, we start building.
“So, to picture that, someone carrying around my work on their back, is the best thing ever. It’s something that I look forward to. I feel like I’m there, watching them wearing it. But finishing the products, putting them in the bag, watching them ship out—it’s the best feeling.”
Specifically, after Trina has cut some of the preliminary components, Emma will start building the vest and the shoulder. The components continue to be produced and prepared independently until it comes to me and I’ll install and assemble the whole thing. I’ll put the shoulder together, apply the cummerbund, put the bladders on it, then I do a QC, or quality control.
Q) What does the QC entail?
Mani) We check the seam, check the pockets—make sure to eyeball everything pretty closely. But by the time it gets to this stage, it’s already been checked many times. When it goes through the line, each person has to QC their part, too. So they’ve gotta make sure that it matches with the BOM and the order specifications. So, the product get checked and rechecked multiple times.
After they finish their subtasks, I check it against my list as well, as part of my QC. We all have the same lists, so we’re all checking and rechecking as we go.
That said, everyone is focused on their individual subtask, but I always have the big picture in mind, so sometimes I’ll envision the whole BCD to sort out kinks and minor mistakes, like sizing.
When I see something weird on an order form or something that raises a red flag, I’ll call the customer and sort out the confusion directly. Each BOM sheet contains an average of 75 pieces, so there’s a lot to keep track of!
Q) How do you feel about the work you do?
Mani) It’s the best feeling. When you’re done and you’ve built a piece that someone will trust with their life: it’s super rewarding, But also, those same people will be carrying our name around—carrying our work around.
So, to picture that, someone carrying my work around on their back, is the best thing ever. It’s something that I look forward to. I feel like I’m there, watching them wearing it. But finishing the products, putting them in the bag, watching them ship out—it’s the best feeling.
This name—Zeagle, to me, it’s like my own last name, I carry it like it’s personal. I want it known wherever it goes for how good it is. …The name will last longer than us. I could die next week, but the name will last forever.
That’s what we’re working for: to build that name so it’s known for quality, safety, and love. And I believe that if we build our products with that positive attitude, people are going to feel it. That’s my #1 goal.