#CASTAlumSpotlight: Cameron Bair on turning disappointments into entrepreneurial solutions
Cameron Bair graduated from Illinois State with a Bachelor of Science in exercise and fitness leadership and has had a spectacular career progression. He adopts an innovative twist to events and disappointments, converting them to business opportunities which have thrived and become leading businesses in different sectors. Bair is one resilient and opportunity-spotting entrepreneur.
Pursuing his football career upon graduation in 1993, his enthusiasm was met with disappointment as he was fired several times, ultimately ending his football career.
Bair’s positivity shines through his story as he recounts that the best things that ever happened to him were as a result of the bad events.
For example, he said, “It’s a good thing I kept getting fired because I never would have met my wonderful wife and had my two beautiful kids had I kept playing football.” Bair also attributes the turn of events leading to his success to his faith.
Dabbling into entrepreneurship
To make some money, Bair started mowing lawns with a lawnmower he borrowed from his father. “I asked a gas station if I could mow the little patch of grass in their parking lot when my kids and wife were at school. They said yes and paid me $15 to do it! I literally asked another place, and another, and another, and the Lord proceeded to bring me so many clients that the ‘landscape maintenance business’ grew to provide an abundant income for my family, extended family, and even some employees. In fact, I earned more money mowing lawns than I did playing in the NFL!” he said.
Bair’s first entrepreneurial venture was borne out of mowing lawns. He realized that, just like weightlifting, mowing lawns was ruining his wedding band. “I had a problem and searched and searched for an answer. The result of my searching was that I needed to come up with a solution myself. There were no other safe, inexpensive options to tattoos or metal rings,” Bair said.
Explaining further how he created Saferingz.com, a pioneering silicone wedding ring company, he had this to say: “I started the chemistry/biology experimentation with different products that I could possibly make a wedding band out of, and ended up settling on something that was moldable, yet totally biocompatible and hypo-allergenic. This was 100 percent medical-grade silicone rubber. However, I wanted it to look like gold metal, and not like a rubber band, so I needed to come up with a way to get the rubber to reflect light (since rubber naturally absorbs light). I was able to come up with a proprietary ingredient that not only was organic and safe but could be mixed into the silicone rubber and actually reflect light, like a metal.”
In 2015 Bair was competing in an Ironman 70.3 race and got ill from heat exhaustion. Living in Phoenix, exercising, training and other outdoor activities in the extreme heat in May through October, can be difficult. Bair saw this as another opportunity to solve a problem, as merely pouring water over his head at that time did not provide a lasting cooling effect.
Bair knew it was time to go back to the chemistry and biology lab. “After two years of studying the human body’s thermo-regulating systems and meeting with physicians, exercise scientists, and athletes of all levels, IceRunning.com was born. IceRunning is a clothing line designed to keep the body cool in hot or humid climates during all types of activities. Each shirt, along with being made of special fabrics, has pockets strategically placed to hold regular ice cubes. It seemed like a silly idea, putting ice cubes in pockets in a shirt, but it worked,” he said.
Advice to students
Receiving a U.S. Patent award recently, Bair recounts several reasons to be thankful. “Two problems became two inventions and businesses.” Bair advises current students to pursue the dreams they are passionate about and accept their personality and differences. He also warns against rigidity, saying, “One day, I was wearing a football helmet and the next I was wearing protective eyeglasses carrying a Weedeater. Occupation or status do not define you nor identify you.”