AMERICAN MADE BY AMERICAN HANDS
One day while working in his garage, Scott Melton was using a Milwaukee angle grinder on a home project when suddenly the wire brush blew apart, sending steel bristles exploding out in all directions. Scott recoiled instantly, but not before taking a face full of flying wire.
And if he wasn’t wearing his GATORZ that day, he easily could’ve lost his eye.
So when Scott, who leads Product Line Management out of GATORZ headquarters in Yuma, AZ, sets out to develop a new frame, he knows exactly what’s at stake.
“Even though it’s just sunglasses, it has to be functional, light, and most importantly,” he says, “… it needs to protect you when shit blows up in your face.”
This is the sense of purpose Scott brings to work every day. No, not the purpose of protecting his own face, though it’s likely always on his mind after a close call like that. It’s the customer Scott always keeps in mind. Those men and women who serve in dangerous conditions, work in hazardous construction zones, or operate in other high-risk environments where protective eyewear is a must-have.
Scott has worked in the eyewear industry for over a decade. Born and raised in Yuma, he originally helped run the family dry cleaning business, but quickly learned two things: First, there was no way he was going to work in dry cleaning for the rest of his life. And second, there was no way he was going to work for his father.
“It was either leave the dry cleaning business and move on to something new, or never speak to my Dad again,” he says with a laugh.
Scott gravitated towards machinist’s work. A handyman since he was young, Scott has a history of tooling around with mills and welders, working on hot rods and motorcycles and other side projects. He stumbled onto a CNC machining gig he found on Craigslist, and one day the outfit got a large contract to deliver an order of aluminum sunglasses frames. The work interested him, and pretty soon Scott found himself fully immersed in the eyewear manufacturing industry.
He joined the Gatorz team in 2015 and hasn’t looked back since.
He liked the idea of building the world’s toughest sunglasses. “Not the status quo of injected plastic frames,” he points out. “The people we sell to need and demand the best, and that’s what we’re doing for them. We’re making eyewear for the people who build and protect America.”
Through his expertise and with the collaboration of the entire GATORZ team, Scott has seen the brand evolve over the years. Frames become thinner, lenses become tougher, and hinges become more reliable. And every innovation comes from the same source: Listening to feedback.
"We're making eyewear for the people who build and protect America"
Scott takes pride in the amount of time he dedicates per week to listening to the GATORZ community. “We send out post-purchase surveys, we get comments on social media, and we get emails from our community all the time. And I read every single one of them.” It takes a long time, Scott admits, but he considers it a gold mine of information that enables him to do his job better and create the next incredible frame for a deserving community.
As a sneak peek, Scott and the product development team are hard at work making a first in GATORZ history: A frame with lenses that the wearer can change out themselves.
It’s long been on the wish lists of many members of the GATORZ family—a frame that maintains that iconic GATORZ look and feel, with its all-aluminum construction and thin, sleek profile … but with the freedom to swap out lenses on the fly. All without tools—not even a screwdriver.
Scott’s not ready to show the world the newest GATORZ frame just yet. But with the amount of obvious excitement in his voice when he describes it, you get the sense of how significant of a product it will be.
When he’s not devoting every day to the production of elite-level eyewear, Scott enjoys spending time outside with his family. He makes frequent trips to the desert or the lower Colorado area with his four kids, exploring the world wherever the road takes him … especially if it’s not a road at all.
“When I’m not working, we take our entire herd—that’s what we call ‘em—out into the world as much as we can,” Scott says. “Whether it’s hunting, shooting, or off-roading, my kids enjoy it a lot.”
But when adventure time is over and it’s time to get back to work again, Scott’s attention is purely on the task before him. He may be leading the charge in developing the next big thing in the Gatorz lineup, but the way he tells it … the real inspiration comes from the real patriots who wear GATORZ frames every day.