Interview with zZz Custom Works
1 – What is zZz and how did you come up with the name?
zZz Custom Works LLC is a custom thermoforming manufacturer of Kydex holster and knife sheaths. We design and fabricate specialized military, law enforcement, and emergency service equipment.
The three Z’s in zZz are for Zatrapa. Zatrapa is the last name of Marty Zatrapa the company’s founder and majority owner. Marty wanted to pay homage to his family name and Czech heritage. The other two Z’s represent Marty’s wife and daughter who represent support and devotion. Our company name brand and logo are a registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
2 – What do you make?
zZz Custom Works produces the highest quality Kydex holsters, magazine pouches, knife sheaths, and firearm accessories. We also operate an online retail store that offers a huge selection of colours, texture, and attachment options. In addition, we design and manufacture equipment fasteners and conduct prototype development.
The zZzClip is a patent pending reusable, lightweight, connection clip for modular webbing panels and belts. The current version is made from heat formed Kydex that is 0.093” inches thick. However, starting in Spring 2016, newer versions will be made from injection molded Poly Carbonate or Super Nylon and it will come in Black, Coyote Tan, and Olive Drab.
Additionally, zZz Custom Works has partnered with Lucky Dragon Industries for our latest innovation, The Czech Pack. The Czech Pack is inspired by a vintage travel tote from the Czech Republic. Utilizing the most contemporaneous materials The Czech Pack easily transforms from a shoulder slung travel bag to a frameless backpack in seconds. Originally intended for military applications as a sensitive site exploitation and data collection bag we have adopted a civilian version that has audacious fabrics and colorful accents.
The Czech pack in the shoulder slung configuration has two outer pockets that are secured by industrial quality zippers and has external hardware for adding various accessories such as water bottles and key chains. As a backpack, the Czech Pack has a protective weather flap for the top enclosure, two shoulder straps, and access to the two outer pockets.
Marty started learning his craft during his own time as a Nuclear Security Officer in 2010 and by 2013 he obtained his business license and fictitious business name.
4 – Who owns and founded the company?
Marty Zatrapa is the majority owner and company founder. Marty is also a Staff Sergeant in the California National Guard and a former U.S. Marine with combined service of 16 years. In addition, Marty is a former Nuclear Security Officer from the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station in California.
Marty initially started on his own, but as sales increased took on additional business partners who eventually moved on due to other interests. Patrick Baglietto joined zZz Custom Works in the spring of 2015 as the minority owner and marketing and sales director.
Patrick “Bags” Baglietto is a retired Marine with twenty years of military service. Patrick Baglietto spent the majority of his career as a Force Recon Marine, firearms and tactics instructor, and Detachment Commander of the Marine Security Guard detachments in Tirana, Albania and Caracas, Venezuela. In addition to developing business skills, Patrick is a school certified machinist and CNC operator and well as a part time Life Guard.
5 – How did you meet?
Patrick shared similar interests with Marty and quickly formed a friendship as coworkers in the nuclear industry.
6 – What inspired you to make your product?
The business transpired from a hobby Marty developed while working full time as a Nuclear Security Officer and his experience as a former Marine and National Guardsman. Marty was not happy with the standard issue tactical equipment he was given and set out to make his own. Marty did his research and was soon fabricating gun holsters and knife sheaths in his garage. After getting a demand from friends and coworkers for his equipment he decided to launch the business from home during his spare time.
7- Many people have ideas and think they can create a better product, no matter what field they are in, but it takes another level of commitment to actually take the first steps to making it happen. What were your first steps and what were your barriers?
We call upon combined decades of military experience, as well as practical industry knowledge to build our handcrafted equipment with novel designs to optimize performance. Our holsters are manufactured to keep your firearm and magazine both secure and easily accessible with our unique design for a compact and comfortable fit. We field-test all of the designs for functionality as well as durability, guaranteeing our customers the highest quality Kydex gear available.
We have fought and trained alongside many of the most highly skilled combat units and organizations in the United States, including infantry and Special Operations units in the Army, Marines, and local law enforcement agencies. We know all the most vital functions of today’s top-quality firearms, and we understand the need for quick, accurate, effortless execution. We manufacture weapon accessories for the leading names in weaponry including Sig Sauer, Glock and Colt. Guns are our passion, and we enjoy combining a long history of experience in firearms with new innovation to make America’s armed forces, law enforcement, security, and hunters safer and more effective.
Our greatest challenge was learning the many nuances of running a small business with no prior experience.
8 – What are your hopes for the future of your product and what do you feel makes your product stand out over other similar products?
Our products are made using 0.080” thick Kydex. Which means it is exceptionally durable and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Additionally, our products can be ordered with many options such as pig and goat leather on the contact side to alleviate chaffing and synthetic suede lining on the inside for noise reduction.
We develop our unique holsters, knife sheaths, and attachment fasteners with strict attention to biomechanical movement and ease of access of the user. Our versatile designs are under continuous development and result in practical innovations such the zZzClip.
Our goals are to become the dominant leader in the plastic thermoforming industry and top innovator of practical military and law enforcement equipment.
Our staff is fully focused on supplying visually pleasing and functional products as well as introducing stimulating new design concepts for testing and development.
Our long-term goal will be to become a proven entity in the manufacturing and fabrication industry that is worthy of consideration for government contracts and retail distribution.
9 – Where are you located?
zZz Custom Works LLC is located in Oceanside, California. We are a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business and uniquely situated between three major military installations. Many active duty service members and veterans call Southern California their home as well as many local law enforcement agencies. Our intent is to ensure they have the finest equipment available so they can safely meet their mission requirements.
10 – Who actually makes your product? You? Did you design it and are now having a manufacturer make it? Do you employ anyone?
zZz Custom Works LLC designs and produces the majority of our finished products. The exception being the raw materials and hardware used to create the product. In addition, we outsource the manufacturing of our own belt loop designs with a local plastic molding company.
We have one apprentice named Al Pellegrini who contributes his time in exchange for training and experience. Al has incredible knowledge of firearms and the firearm industry and has become a trusted adviser and a skilled craftsman. Al is also an Air Force veteran and Mariner.
11 – Where do you get the raw materials?
zZz Custom Works LLC purchases most of the necessary materials from a variety of local as well as national vendors who specialize in suppling holster manufacturers. Our main vendors are Index Fasteners Inc. and KnifeKits.com.
12 – Do you sponsor anyone? If so, who and what shooting sport?
Yes, we support one California based shooting team and one Arizona based teenaged girl who is a competitive shooter. However, we give no monetary support. We only supply shooting equipment for free.
13 – Do you consider yourself a startup company or would you feel that you are already established?
We are probably in the realm of being a startup company because we raise our own capital and we do not have a fulltime staff of employees. However, The general perception of our company is that we are a maker of high quality firearm and knife accessories. Our reputation is excellent and our footprint grows steadily everyday.
Our indicator is in Google search and we are usually on the first page countywide. That benchmark is the result of our social media marketing campaign and support of military and law enforcement.
We have filled large volume orders from local retail stores and deploying military units. During our highest production rally we were able to produce over 100 holsters in less than two weeks with three personnel.
14 – Do you support any charities?
We support our community and veteran groups by contributing to fund raising programs with monetary donations.
15 – Do you have a mantra, motto, or creed that you live and work by?
Our company motto or tagline is: Built To Prevail.
Our future goal is to hire and train fellow veterans with disabilities. zZz Custom Works is proud to manufacture all of our products in the United States of America. We will never out-source our work to foreign countries and we make every effort to source our materials from American companies. zZz Custom Works has taken steps to ensure that only the most ethical and moral standards are put to use and we are committed to fair treatment of our employees, customers, and the environment.
zZz Custom Works LLC stands behind every product we produce and we never sacrifice quality for quantity. Our goal is to design and construct the finest quality Kydex materials available anywhere in the world. Our dedication and support to our customers are second to none and we have no questions asked return policy.
16 – Is there is anything you feel is important and you would like to add that we have not covered?
zZz Custom Works LLC is careful to vet all of our products from highly regarded sources such as U.S. Special Operations Units, various law enforcement agencies, and professional firearm instructors. We believe it is important to our customers that they have an endorsement from the most qualified personnel in the business.