SANDPOINT — A local company has announced it has developed a line of two-part chemical wall filler that will "turn any classroom into a bulletproof safe room."
Rhino Hide LLC CEO Jason Giddings said the idea behind the Rhino Hide bulletproof wall filler is to allow kids and teachers to shelter-in-place without moving to a specified safe room. Other companies offer in-class shelters, he said, but that requires students to move from their desks.
"That’s a waste of precious time, plus these competitor shelters only hold about 20 students at a cost of over $20,000 and take up a big portion of the classroom," Giddings said in an email to the Daily Bee.
As Rhino Hide can be installed in existing walls, the students can stay at their desks, the teacher can lock the door of the classroom and they can wait for law enforcement to arrive, he said. Giddings said there are currently more than 140,000 K-12 schools in the United States. While there are "lots" of ways to make walls bulletproof, he said, the trick is doing it without tearing down or rebuilding existing structure, which is "expensive and time consuming."
"As a worried dad, I was compelled to develop this product." Giddings said in a statement. "The initial response to our equity crowdfunding campaign has been remarkable with over $24,000 raised in just the first week. We have a list of contractors interested in becoming certified installers and are already working with local schools and high security facilities to act as our initial test and training sites."
One challenge Giddings said he faced in developing the Rhino Hide product was to create a substance that doesn’t have water in it, since water is not compatible with sheetrock. The material also can’t shrink or expand as it cures, as that would add stress to the wall. Also, he said, it had to be fire resistant, inexpensive and lightweight. In the end, Giddings said he used chemicals similar to two-part polyurethane with some other additives.
After what Giddings said were "very successful" preliminary live-fire tests, Rhino Hide went live with the equity crowdfunding campaign to raise the necessary capital required to set up the first distribution center in Sandpoint.
Giddings, of Sagle, said he began working on the product concept about six months, and the company was formally started on April 30. Rhino Hide, LLC, is a business entity established to bring to market Rhino Hide Bulletproof Wall Filler, he said. Rhino Hide’s products are developed and tested in North Idaho.
The testing consisted of building sections of wall and filling them with various blends of chemicals, Gidding said, then shooting at each one with several types of firearms ranging from a 9 mm pistol to an AR-15, a 12-gauge shotgun and "everything in between."
"I will have a lot more testing to do once investors are in place, but I have great confidence in the product as it is now," Giddings said.
The StartEngine platform is a new equity crowdfunding platform that allows anyone to invest, not just accredited investors, Giddings said, adding it is a "big shift" in the way companies can get funding. There are currently about 70 investors who have invested more than $26,000, with an average of $378 per investor, he said.
"So it’s really the regular folks like us that make the difference," Giddings said. "This is great because, unfortunately, politicians on both sides have been using this topic to push their own agendas. I want this product to be a solution both sides can get behind and solve the school shooting epidemic once and for all."
Giddings said the product will be available for sale in six to eight months, as he needs to develop some installation chemical pumping/mixing equipment for the certified installers.
Information: rhino-hide.com or startengine.com/rhino-hide.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.