For the founders of Nine Line Apparel, the concrete backing on their sign at their new facility is more than just a place to display the company logo.
“Nine Line started just about five years ago and this sign you see up here is iconic in nature for many different reasons. One thing to point out is that the garage that (Nine Line) was founded in was just about that size,” co-founder Tyler Merritt said Thursday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the company’s new location at 450 Fort Argyle Road.
The 60,000-square-foot building was built to fit the company’s production and operation needs and allow plenty of room for future expansion. The building also includes retail space.
Tyler Merritt, who is one of four co-founders that include his wife, Angela Merritt, his brother Daniel Merritt and Myles Burke, started the company in his in garage in 2012 as a way to raise money for a former West Point classmate who had lost three limbs in Afghanistan.
Now a multi-million dollar company with more than 100 employees, many of which are veterans, the company produces a variety of patriotic and veteran-inspired clothing along with other goods, including drinkware, belts, backpacks and signs.
“This started with a leap of faith. A leap of faith that people up and moved to Savannah, Ga., because they believed in me and they believed in this organization,” Tyler Merritt said.
In the last three years alone, the company has grown at a staggering rate of more than 4,000 percent - putting them at number 85 on Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in America.
“I just want to congratulate this company for what they have done in relatively short period of time. It is difficult for anybody to start a business and be successful in that business,” said Gov. Nathan Deal, who also spoke at Thursday’s event.
“I think the climate that we have here in Georgia for businesses to be able to start and be able to grow and expand is the right kind of climate and that’s part of the reason we have been designated as the number one state in which to do business for four consecutive years.”
Following the ribbon ceremony, the group dedicated a parking space to Savannah Fire and Emergency Services Master Firefighter Michael Curry, who died last November after suffering an unrelated medical condition while helping to rescue people from a dock collapse on River Street.
“On behalf of Savannah Fire and certainly on behalf of the Curry family, we certainly appreciate the honor you’ve given us and thank you,” said Savannah Fire and Emergency Services Chief Charles Middleton, who helped Curry’s mother and sister install the sign.
Six other parking spaces were dedicated to honor the memories of six fallen soldiers from the Savannah area. Each sign contains a code that when scanned with a smart phone app will display the story of the person represented on the sign.
“The reason we do this is to remind the Gold Star and first responder families that they’re loved ones have not been forgotten,” said Nisha Giustino, Nine Line human resources director and Veterans Parking Savannah ambassador.
“As long as we have a place to put the signs, we will continue.”
Nine Line also presented a $36,000 donation, which came from the proceeds of Nine Line’s 9/11 Tribute Design, to the 9/11 Tribute Museum. The check was accepted on behalf of the museum by former New York Police Department commissioner Bernie Kerik and former New York firefighter William Hayes.
In turn, Hayes and Kerik presented the company with an official NYFD flag that had flown over the September 11 memorial in New York City.
“This has been such a dream come true,” Daniel Merritt said during the closing remarks, extending thanks to his and Tyler’s parents.
“When we were kids, they used to tell us we could grow up and become anything we ever wanted to be and we believed them… This has been a dream come true. Only in this country can this type of dream take place.”