Their love of baseball made the bruised hands that came from catching speeding balls worth it, but members of the Jaramillo family believed there had to be a product that would help keep players in the game.
And these brothers know what they're talking about. The Jaramillos are a baseball family and Forceout is another family endeavor.
Jason is a catcher in the Houston Astros system, and Lee was a catcher in 1998 for the Milwaukee Brewers. The two brothers own the company. The oldest brother, Frank Jr., a police officer with the Mount Pleasant Police Department, helps in an advisory position. A fourth brother, Alexis, didn't play baseball.
"When he was growing up, he was more into computers and video games," Lee said. "Playing baseball just wasn't his thing."
The three oldest knew how rough America's pastime is on the hands. So with Forceout, they sought to make a protective glove that players could use under their mitts that did a better job of alleviating the problem that what they had used.
Becoming a baseball family
Growing up in Caledonia, their father, Frank Jaramillo Sr. instilled the love of baseball in his sons. Jaramillo Sr. emigrated from Mexico and played semi-pro baseball in Mexico and later in Milwaukee's Latin Leagues.
Frank Jr. and Lee often went with their father to play in the league when they were young teenagers.
"We were way over our heads at first and we got outplayed a lot, but we quickly learned to adapt," Frank said. "I think playing with older players helped a lot."
Frank Sr.'s entrepreneurial spirit rubs off
For the Jaramillo brothers, the risk of starting a new venture was natural. They watched how hard their father worked, and that tradition was passed down along with the baseball. Frank Sr. owns Jaramillo Contractors in Caledonia. The 30-year-old business started when he would drive his dump truck to worksites and ask if they wanted to use him.
“Seeing him wake up every day, with no real road map… he taught us that you have to put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to sound like you don’t know what you are doing,” Frank Jr. said.
But being fearless doesn't mean you won't fail, Lee said, and failure is something he always expected.
“In my mind, everything was going to fail, because it always has… but you just gotta keep going because one of the projects will eventually work,” Lee said.
So far, Forceout may be that project. Even though the new product was only introduced a few months ago, sales of the glove have been going well Lee has had to set aside his other job, as a commercial real estate developer.
A product for baseball players made by baseball players
Being catchers, Jason and Lee came up with the idea of making a different kind of glove to address a common problem baseball and softball players have—bruises on their hands.
And a lot of thought went into the design of the protective glove, primarily because Frank, Jason and Lee knew what was missing from the other gloves they had worn since they both played professional baseball. They would get bone bruises from where the ball hit their hand, even though they were wearing a mitt and a leather glove underneath. They knew the padding needed to be substantive and strategically placed, but not obstructive to how the player’s hand moved.
The leather they use is called Pittards leather, which is used in high-end shoes and sporting goods and they wanted that because the material breathes better. The glove also has three fingers missing, which allows the player to feel the mitt, Lee said.
“The less you have on the better. If you have skin on leather, then you know that you are part of the game,” Lee said. “If you have it fully covered, then you don’t feel like you are part of the glove and players want to feel like you are always part of your equipment.”
Jason introduced the gloves to some of his team members during spring training in March and he convinced other players on the team to use them.
“Protective equipment is a big industry, but no one had come up with a glove that met all of the needs that players had,” Lee said.