Getting Ready for the "Super-Bowl of the Sky"
Bartlett company making glasses for total eclipse, ‘Super Bowl of the Sky’
BARTLETT, Tenn.-- If you didn’t like how this years Super Bowl turned out you have a chance to see another one but you’ll have to look up.
It’s being called "the Super Bowl of the sky" and Tuesday, February 21, officially marks six months until portions of the United States will experience a full solar eclipse.
It’s been decades since this has happened and there’s a company in Bartlett playing a major role, providing tens of millions of glasses to safely watch the eclipse as it happens.
It’s a typical day at American Paper Optics in Bartlett and the machines are pedal to the metal.
The special solar glasses are designed, printed, folded and glued for hundreds of museums, schools and companies across the country, potentially up to a million per day. They’re manufactured right in Bartlett, Tennessee but come August 21 you will find them playing a crucial role for tens of millions of Americans as they step outside to see this a solar eclipse.
Some parts of the country will experience the full eclipse.
The full eclipse will stretch from Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. John Jerit is the President of American Paper Optics, the man helping people experience history.
"Our goal is to sell at least 100 million glasses," he explained.
Jerit has been making glasses for more than 16 years out of Bartlett, you can see for yourself his company has had their hand in a myriad of projects, many calling for 3-D glasses.
"We even did 134 million glasses for the Super Bowl in 2009," he said.
Right now they’re focusing on the upcoming total eclipse.
"You’ll see it in Memphis. In Memphis you’re going to have a 94% eclipse which is great but there’s nothing like getting to totality. Which is 100% so for here the closest place would be Nashville, Tennessee or Carbondale, Illinois," explained Jerit.
The paper glasses help you safely look at the sun and watch the eclipse happen and if it’s a total eclipse you can safely take them off and look at the sky.
"You’ll get two minutes of the day becoming night, temperatures dropping 12 degrees, animals being confused and people going crazy," said Jerit with a smile.
It’s a moment Jerit is excited for Mid-Southerners to witness, that could have a lasting impact.
"This is a lifetime experience. This is the kind of experience that influences children to become mathematicians, astronomers, physicists. It’s an amazing event," he said.
Click image below for more information and a tour of the APO facility!
- Jason Lewin
World's Largest Pair of Safe Solar Glasses
MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 21, 2017 -- As the U.S. gears up for the next total solar eclipse taking place Aug. 21, American Paper Optics, the world's leading manufacturer of solar eclipse and 3-D glasses, has built the world's largest pair of functioning safe solar eclipse glasses. Measuring at approximately 32 feet wide and 3 feet high, the glasses represent the magnitude of the event that John Jerit, owner and CEO of APO, fervently refers to as 'the largest event in the sky.'
(John Jerit photographed with the largest pair of eclipse glasses)
Not only are the glasses unique in size, but the fact that they are completely functional (meaning, people can stand behind them, look through the ISO-certified lens and safely view the sun) makes them that much more impressive. APO built the glasses to help the U.S. commemorate what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of the more than 300 million people estimated to view the eclipse.
The journey to building the glasses began in late 2016, when Jerit contemplated the most creative way to remember the rare eclipse for years to come. Shortly thereafter, the construction process launched into full swing. From meticulously creating the design to deciding on the appropriate specifications to ensure the glasses were in fact the 'world's largest,' the glasses have now made a clear statement – you don't want to miss Aug. 21, the day when people across the country will witness the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental U.S. in nearly four decades.
Those lucky enough to live in or who are planning a trip to one of the 12 states located along the Path of Totality will be among the many to witness the full total solar eclipse. Outside the path, viewers will witness a partial eclipse. This map outlines the projected viewership of the eclipse.
However, no matter where people physically are located in the U.S. on Aug. 21, they will need a pair of safe solar eclipse glasses. The glasses can be custom-branded for any individual, company or organization – using size, shape and color scheme – to commemorate the eclipse.
- Jason Lewin
Forbes article on CEO John Jerit
Less than two years ago, John Jerit, owner of American Paper Optics, the largest manufacturer of 3D and safe solar eclipse glasses, wasn't sure he'd live to see 2017.
A cancer diagnosis not only knocked him sideways, but also put into perspective that he may not get to see the one event that he literally has been waiting for his whole life, and geared his business for; August 21, 2017, the date when a total solar eclipse will cross the US, from coast to coast for the first time since 1979.
He has set himself an ambitious goal of selling 100 million pairs of the solar safe glasses, which filter out 100% of harmful ultra-violet and infrared rays and 99.999% of intense visible light, providing the safest way to view the cosmic event. Suddenly that goal looked out of reach.
A psychology graduate from Louisiana State University Jerit had always had a passion for business. He says: “I cut my teeth working for an American fireworks company in Mississippi, and was a partner in a three-restaurant development in the mid-80s, which gave me an opportunity to experience what it was like to be a business owner right out of college.”
However, it was after fishing a pair of diffraction glasses out of a trashcan that he came up with his business idea. Coining the name ‘3-D Fireworks Glasses’ he went onto sell more than 10,000 pairs of them at a fireworks event in Memphis.
In 1990 he launched his business American Paper Optics with just two employees, and like many small business startups, found a lack of capital one of the greatest challenges.
“As I was paying employees out of my pocket, I was trying to find a way to create revenue,” he says. “It was very slim for the first nine months, however in 1991 we secured a major project to produce 13 million 3D glasses for the ‘Freddy’s Dead: Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchise. The profits from that project allowed me to hit the ground running.
“I’d say it’s my inner carnie-showman that propelled me to start American Paper Optics, and 26 years later, I’m still realising my passion for bringing optical joy to the planet, one 3D glass at a time.”
A once-in-a-lifetime event, the 2017 total solar eclipse presented Jerit with his biggest business opportunity yet. He says: “With a potential for 300 million people to experience it, I set out to sell at least 100 million eclipse glasses to protect people’s eyes as they enjoy it.”
Then in 2015, his plans came to a sudden halt when he received a devastating cancer diagnosis.
He says: “A cancer diagnosis for anyone is unexpected and can lead to a state of confusion and indecision about treatment and your own future. I knew if I had the surgery, my chances for a healthy life were greater than delaying treatment. So from a business-planning standpoint, I knew I had to immediately step up our marketing activity in case I was going to be out for any extended period of time.
“Luckily, I have a great staff, and for the month or so that I was unable to work at peak, they picked up my slack. In terms of life planning, the obvious thing was getting my affairs in order for my kids’ future. Then, I set a goal to survive cancer, view this historic total solar eclipse and market and sell as many glasses as I possibly could.”
Thankfully, after treatment, Jerit got the ‘all clear’, and immediately redoubled efforts at American Paper Optics, ramping up for mass production of tens of millions of eclipse glasses, both custom-branded and in their own commemorative style.
He says: “We’ve already produced millions of eclipse glasses, and fresh orders are coming in daily. We are marketing our products all over the US, via retailers, distributors, and online at our own websites, including eclipseglasses.com, and building a presence on Amazon at the consumer level.
“If we continue at this pace, we have a great shot at hitting the 100 million mark, although we still need a couple of key corporate sponsors to get us over the top. It is such a great giveaway to build goodwill and advance the whole STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative.”
All along the coast to coast total-eclipse corridor on August 21, the sun and moon will be aligned, creating a corona, with the outer edge of the moon sparkling. The total eclipse will last only a couple of minutes or so, but darkness will fall, along with the temperatures.
Once the cosmic event is over, though, American Paper Optics won’t be sitting idle, and will launch immediately into production of its famous holiday glasses, used for viewing holiday and Christmas lights.
With revenues of $10 million, and an expanding workforce – the current 40 employees will increase to more than 60 in the next few months to manage the demand of the eclipse – the future for the Bartlett, Tennessee-based firm is looking as majestic as the celestial events that it helps to celebrate.
Jerit adds: “Of course, there are eclipses all over the world every year, so there will be other great opportunities to sell our Safe Solar Glasses at those sites, including the next total solar eclipse taking place on July 2, 2019, in South America.”
- Jason Lewin
Six months to prepare for a rare total solar eclipse to cross the U.S.
MEMPHIS, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2017 – On Aug. 21, 2017, millions of people across 12 states, stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, will witness a total solar eclipse, a rare event that last happened 38 years ago. The remaining 38 states of the U.S. will be able to view a partial eclipse.
In order to safely experience the event, everyone across the country will need safe solar eclipse glasses. American Paper Optics, the largest 3-D glasses manufacturing company in the world, plans to work around the clock to make sure people are prepared for what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“With the total solar eclipse just six months away, everyone needs to start planning,” said John Jerit, president and CEO of APO. “We’re advising people to figure out where they will be (or where they want to be) on Aug. 21, 2017, and more importantly, make sure they have safe solar eclipse glasses ready.”
APO’s Eclipser® Safe Solar Glasses are ISO certified to block the harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays of light that come from the sun. The glasses, which are 1,000 times darker than regular sunglasses, are the safest way to view the eclipse.
“For at least a couple of minutes on Aug. 21, 2017, people across the country will stop what they are doing and look up to the sky to view the sun,” said Jason Lewin, director of marketing at APO. “This historic opportunity – one we feel is bigger than any sporting event, concert or awards show - is something that companies and organizations of all sizes can participate in at a very inexpensive cost. Now is the time to order safe solar eclipse glasses.”
APO expects to sell 100 million eclipse glasses for the solar eclipse. For the last year, Jerit has talked with corporations and organizations across the U.S., from universities to CVBs and Fortune 500 companies to small businesses that want to capitalize on the event for their customers and employees. The glasses can be custom-branded for any company or organization – using size, shape and color scheme – to promote the business.
For more information and to purchase Eclipser Safe Solar Glasses, call 1-800-767-8427
About American Paper Optics
American Paper Optics, the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of solar eclipse and 3-D glasses as well as other optical products, is a one-stop source for anything 3-D. Over a span of 25 years, APO has manufactured more than two billion paper 3-D glasses. APO also offers an endless variety of frame styles, specialty optics, full color printing, and intricate die-cutting capabilities.
- Jason Lewin
Entrepreneur not ‘eclipsed’ by diagnosis
CEO's goal of 100,000,000 glasses lives on after winning battle with cancer
There’s no good time to learn that your new reality consists of one of the scariest words known to man – cancer. But John Jerit received this news at what he now considers to have been the worst time. Less than two years out from an event that he has literally been waiting for his entire life, John was shocked to hear that his annual prostate screening uncovered cancerous cells.
As of December 2015, life for John would never be the same.
But, this life-altering moment didn’t create the kind of bone-chilling fear one would assume hits when you learn of your own cancer diagnosis. In fact, John admits he was only moderately concerned about how the cancer would affect his health, family and finances. On the contrary, when he learned that cancer was now part of his life story, John’s thoughts turned to Aug. 21, 2017. This date marks the first time since 1979 that the U.S. will experience a total solar eclipse…and John planned to live to witness it, one way or another.
As owner and CEO of American Paper Optics, the largest manufacturer of 3D and safe solar eclipse glasses in the world, John’s career dream has been to personally view and make sure that every American is afforded the opportunity to safely view this eclipse. In February 2016, John’s dream slowly morphed into a strong possibility as he successfully underwent robotic surgery. Then, as he started down his road to recovery, John became more and more inspired to get eclipse glasses in the hands of as many people as possible.
John wanted people across the country to understand that no matter where they are geographically located on Aug. 21, they’ll need to wear the CE and ISO-certified glasses that APO makes to safely view the eclipse. The glasses, which are close to 1,000 times darker than regular sunglasses, are THE safest way to view the solar eclipse because they filter out 100% of harmful ultra-violet and infrared rays and 99.999% of intense visible light. Additionally, the glasses can be custom branded to fit any company’s design preferences.
John’s post-cancer inspiration led to him setting a goal to sell 100,000,000 glasses before Aug. 21, 2017. Of course, this was met with much skepticism. Some said it was unattainable. Some said it was unrealistic. Some said he was just crazy. Despite it all, John maintained the thinking that if he could beat cancer, he could reach his goal. After all, American Paper Optics did manufacture 134,000,000 3D glasses in 2009 for two Super Bowl commercials.
Today, John is cancer free and aggressively working toward his goal. To date, APO has manufactured glasses for several convention and visitors bureaus, hotels, museums, schools and NASA. Additionally, the company is working closely with several retail chains to distribute eclipse glasses. John says he knows he has a long way to go. However, he’s confident that his passion and company track record, combined with the curiosity from consumers to discover their “inner scientist” during what’s shaping up to be the largest sky event in history,” will help his dream come true – one pair of eclipse glasses at a time.
- Jason Lewin