UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - If your belt is feeling snug after a long weekend of feasting, Sunday's Utah Success Story features an easy solution. Thanks to a Provo-based business, you can now buy one belt that will always fit just right (yes, even after all that Pumpkin Pie).
A basic strap, a shiny buckle, and a built-in ratchet that fluctuates by fractions of an inch -- they are three components that seem simple separately but together create what might be the last belt you ever buy.
It is a concept childhood friends Zac Holzapfel and Jeff Jensen say they always knew would take off. What they were not initially prepared for was just how quickly that would happen.
Shortly after launching their company Mission Belt in 2012, Holzapfel's savvy salesman brother Nate wowed investors on ABC's Shark Tank and scored them a deal with renowned businessman Daymond John. Soon, Nordstrom, Scheels, The Buckle, and other high-end retailers were reaching out for partnerships, too.
Today, the guys have sold nearly two million Mission Belts and raked in more than $25 million with the help of their 35 employees, and as business expands, so does inventory. Right now, the team is buckling down on a business plan to roll out a new women's line next year.
But the entrepreneurs say it is not enough to do well for themselves without giving back. For every belt they sell, they put $1 toward funding microloans in less developed countries.
"Here in America, we have easy access to capital -- we have banks, we can get a loan to start our business, but a lot people in the world don't have that opportunity," Jensen said.
From helping their Panamanian friend Luis start a transportation business to their 75,000 other loans around the world, they are empowering fellow entrepreneurs of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds.
"[For example], $50, $100, $300 -- so they can buy chickens, buy a cow, buy equipment for their farm, and become self-sustaining and independent," Jensen explained.
The philanthropic business owners are finding personal fulfillment in their work with the mission behind their belts, and that combination, they say, is something they hope aspiring business owners will realize just clicks.
"Jump two feet in, because being an entrepreneur -- you got to gamble a little bit... You have to commit, and you just need to prepare to be successful," Holzapfel said.
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