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Former Cop Turns Simple Idea Into Multi-Million Dollar Business

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PORT HURON (WWJ) - A former cop turned multi-million dollar businessman took a simple idea and turned it into one of the “top 50″ companies in the state.

Paul Riddell, a former officer with the Port Huron Police Department, had been selling police equipment online for several years before an accident while on the job in 2005 changed everything.

“I was t-boned in my cruiser while on duty, so that kind of forced the hand for me, forced me to make that decision to put a store in my hometown,” Riddell told WWJ’s Jon Hewett.

After retiring, Riddell and his wife decided to open up a retail store in downtown Port Huron — On Duty Gear.

“Basically, we’re a police equipment, first responders supply company. We service the police, fire, military and EMS industries, and supply them with uniforms, duty gear, body armor, boots, badges — we do it all,” he said.

The company has been so successful, Riddell said they’re opening a second brick-and-mortar store in Clinton Township.

“Now we’re actually able to take it into a bigger market like Macomb County, and we have plans to go beyond that,” he said.

Collectively, the On Duty Gear business model represents about 1,600 employees, with a growth curve that remains on the way up.

“We’re supplying agencies all across the state of Michigan, all across the United States, really, through our e-commerce platform and we’re excited about it,” Riddell said.

On Duty Gear was recently named one of the 2014 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch,” by Michigan Celebrates Small Business. To receive the honor, a company must have six to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generate $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants.

For more information, visit www.ondutygear.com.

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