Anyone who has ever had to work outdoors in the scorching heat of a Texas summer knows how miserable — and dangerous — it can be.
In the last two weeks, more than 130 people in Dallas County have been treated in emergency rooms for heat-related illnesses. Most of them were men aged 18-44 who had been exposed to extreme heat during their workday.
Justin Li, a former San Diego Sheriff’s Department deputy, is all too familiar with the risks of working in the heat, as his job often required him to carry heavy gear outdoors even in extreme weather. In fact, it was while he was searching for a suspect in the desert in 100-degree temperatures that he came up with the idea of wearable thermoregulation products for persons working in extreme environments.
“That’s kind of when I thought of how to create competitive advantages using conductive thermal regulation,” Li, the owner of Qore Performance, told The Dallas Express. “I really just invented it out of the need to survive, a need and a desire to survive.”
“I tabled the [business] idea while I was still on the job, but then I left the job in August of 2015 and started Qore Performance with my business partner J.D. Wilcox, and we launched the ICEPLATE, which is the main product that Chick-fil-A, Dutch Bros., and really, all of our customers buy,” Li said.
The ICEPLATE and ICEPLATE Curve, two of Qore Performance’s flagship offerings, are durable water bottles that carry drinking water and double as cooling or heating devices for the body.
Users can fill the ICEPLATE with water and freeze it overnight or fill it with hot water. The water bottle is then placed into specially-designed wearable Qore Performance gear, such as the ICEPLATE High Visibility Safety or ICEPLATE EXO Military vests. The water bottles can be fitted with tubing so the users can access the water pack for hydration.
The products help the wearers to maintain optimal body temperature and stay hydrated during demanding tasks or rigorous training sessions.
Although originally designed for the U.S. Army, the ICEPLATE product line caters to a diverse range of users, including first responders, athletes, restaurant workers, and hikers. Some of the company’s notable corporate clients include Boeing, Chick-Fil-A, Dutch Bros. Coffee, the U.S. Air Force, Raising Cane’s, FedEx, and Shake Shack.
The company describes its line of products as a “game changer.”
“Before utilizing Qore Performance ICEPLATE products, Dutch Bros. Coffee employees who worked outside had rotations every 15 minutes. Now with Qore Performance technology, those rotations are extended to every two hours, allowing Dutch Bros. to maintain smaller staff, increase productivity, and keep their employees safe,” Qore Performance explained in a press release.
In addition to the wearable products, the company designed another item popular with national restaurant brands with drive-through operations. The ICECASE is an iPad cooling case with a built-in sun shield to protect the electronic device from overheating, even in the hottest direct sunlight.
The company’s newest innovation is the ICEFLASK, a new type of thermoregulation and hydration water bottle about the size of a military radio. Qore Performance also stated that it is working to develop “new High Visibility Safety Solutions for a variety of markets, including drive-throughs, QSR, utilities, and more.”
Qore Performance’s permanent headquarters are currently under construction in Blount County, TN. Li described his company’s success as “really quite amazing. I’ve been very, very fortunate.”
“We have a great team that is able to make us look great, delivering for the customers and satisfying their needs, and we couldn’t do it without them. So, you know, I am just the guy that came up with the idea, but it’s really the team that has made the company special,” Li said.