Five Iowa teachers’ invention, built to keep students safe in the event of a school shooting, has garnered national attention in just two short weeks.
“It’s been overwhelming. The response has been incredible… life-changing, I think is appropriate,” said creator Daniel Nietzel.
On June 10, 2014, Nietzel and his team of five fellow middle school teachers officially launched “The Sleeve” — a 12-gauge carbon steel case that fits around a door’s closer arm, securing it from the inside in the event of a shooting. The simple device can withstand more than 550 foot-pounds of force, and allows teachers to effectively lock a door without going out into the hallway.
Without any sort of formal advertising campaign, the product has gone viral. The team, which calls itself Fighting Chance Solutions, now has an office, a work phone, and a steady stream of orders.
“We’ve been on the Huffington Post. Al Jazeera interviewed me last week. I’m flying out to LA next week to do a show on the Hallmark Channel… stuff that I just never, ever in my wildest dreams thought was possible,” said Nietzel.
Last Thursday, the group hand-delivered the first multi-sleeve order up to Green Bay. Despite the high demand, every item is manufactured locally in Muscatine, Iowa, at Fabricators Plus.
“It’s an incredible device. We wanted to be a part of something big, safety-wise. The shootings — anything we can do to stop that would be great, and if we’re a part of that, that’s even better,” said owner Doug Buster.
And orders are even coming in from groups the teachers never expected, like hospitals and businesses.
“I’ve talked to more people across the United States, even today, than I probably have in the first 29, 30 years of my life. Everyday is a new adventure, that’s what’s crazy,” said Nietzel.
The national response has been gratifying for the teachers, who spent nearly a year working on the design after school hours and on weekends.
“All the fluff, and the excitement, and the media is cool… but at the end of the day, in its most pure form, this was about keeping kids safe,” said Nietzel. “It’s been about the kids.”
For now, the teachers say they still plan to return to the classroom this fall.