The Copper Cat Story
THE AMERICAN DREAM
For generations of entrepreneurs around the world the “American Dream” has resonated with a universally powerful message of hope and the sustaining promise that ambition, drive and determination can and will be rewarded. Of course, this “dream” has powered the aspirations of Americans for generations as well, but it’s also fueled the fires of all who’ve heard its call to arms. A call in which all men are created equal and everyone has the opportunity for prosperity as well as the freedom to strive for a better life while achieving their ambitions.
My great, good friend David Spencer lived every single day of his life by this code both faithfully and joyfully and I’d like to share a bit of His story with you today along with Our story of how Copper Cat was born.
Dave Spencer was a soldier, specifically a Sergeant with the elite US Army Rangers (1979-1982). He’d enlisted in the Special Forces at just eighteen because it was his dream to serve and protect his country. He was a humble man who wanted to make a difference and live with honor so that his life could have a deeper meaning and purpose. Dave was a simple man and he was strong, kind and faithful to his friends and family. He loved his family, he loved his closest friends and he believed that the human soul was a gift for us all to cherish.
And there was one more thing he really, truly loved in his heart and soul and that thing was…Fishing!
Our story together started more than ten years ago when I was searching the internet for a truck. I was from a small town in Northern British Columbia and Dave, who was from just outside Detroit, had one for sale. I was more than interested (the photo suggested a mint, ’99 Hummer H1) so I inquired that if I were to fly down to see it firsthand, could he hold it for me until I got there?
He stated simply — If you’re willing to fly down just to see it, I sure will!
He then refused to take any money up front to hold it for me as I was more than a little worried about losing the bargain.
In reply to my anxiety he said — My word is my word.
Something in the calm clarity of his voice told me that this was all I needed to hear.
So I flew down to Michigan the next week and promptly fell in love with that H1 as only a truck man can!
I couldn’t believe what a bargain this amazing machine was. Dave himself…well, he turned out to be rather on the intimidating side. He was a big bear of a man who still seemed every ounce a US Ranger and that H1 was his pride and joy so I felt no small sense of responsibility when I got behind the wheel. To this day I know in my heart that he would’ve never sold his “baby” to me if he sensed that I could or would not appreciate her. But, luckily for me, I did.
And I can now say with pride, that to this day, I still do.
We quickly established a rapport while sealing our deal and it also turned out that we shared a mutual passion for fishing. Dave asked if he might come up sometime to BC and try for some salmon, rainbow trout and possibly some of our local specialty, the Dolly Varden, which he coveted passionately. And I mean he really wanted to catch one of those something awful. I thought that this was a great idea so I enthusiastically invited him to come on up and we ended up nailing one of the most successful fishing trips of my BC life!
It was one for the books.
Over the following years and during the time I spent getting to know Dave and his family we discovered an easy friendship and bonded like brothers.
We both loved to explore, to travel and we spent endless, enlightening hours discussing the importance of being good businessmen as well as husbands to our wives and fathers to our children.
Of course when we were fishing we behaved a bit more like ten-year olds ourselves, always trying to outdo each other while we competed for the next Big One! My time spent in his company was full of life lessons and joyful camaraderie. Dave’s steely integrity was always the highest in all regards, his passion for life was unequaled and his character was a steel foundation of support and strength.
In the early 80’s, after Dave had returned from the Special Forces he’d started a roofing company and grew it into a successful enterprise. He ran it with integrity of course. The quality of his workmanship was a solemn promise to all his customers and he stood strongly by every square inch of what he did…always! He was a Master Roofer and was respected throughout the industry.
But one frustrating professional problem began to nag at him.
It seemed that no matter what shingles he used, whether it be the top product of the leading shingle manufacturer at the time or the customer’s direct request, over a relatively short period of time algae, moss, mold and mildew streaking would eventually develop in heavily wooded or shaded areas leading to roof deterioration and eventual failure.
And there was nothing on the market he could find that would resolve this expensive problem with any effectiveness or for any duration of time.
Until then there had been no resolution to the unsightly growths that occur on shaded roofs. But starting around 2002, Dave discovered from observing and studying the copper flashing and venting on the roofs of historic churches and buildings that, clearly, algae and moss didn’t grow under these at all!
He promptly started milling and designing copper strips of his own to address and then solve the problem until he was ultimately awarded a Utility patent from the United States Patent Office.
And his solution was a success.
His strips proved to be more powerful than anything the market had seen previously and by a long shot too! Invigorated by his successful solution he designed and manufactured more models, gradually improving the strength and effectiveness of his system to where it is now the most advanced roofing stripping ever made and the only real long term solution in the prevention of all lichens on sloped roofs.
In July of 2012, we’d planned a holiday trip so Dave came up to BC for fishing and to try his luck gold panning. During this trip we happened to catch a Canadian TV show called the “Dragon’s Den”, basically a Canadian version of the popular “Shark Tank” show in the States. We were both intrigued to watch all the various sales pitches so we ended up watching all 35 episodes that were recorded on the DVR!
Of course, some of the entrepreneur’s pitches in our eyes were pretty cool and some…not quite so much, but we were both equally pumped up by the entrepreneurial spirit of the show.
In fact, despite or maybe because of the uneven quality of the pitches, the show really reenergized the business fire within Dave. It gave him hope, belief and clarified his vision for what would eventually become Copper Cat.
As we sat there getting excited and bouncing ideas back and forth, I told him that there was no doubt in my mind that he could do this himself. His invention was important for the people of North America and beyond and he had a responsibility to present it to them.
So, burning with this new energy, Dave conceived a plan to take action, audition to be on the show and make his pitch but with one catch — I had to go with him!
He explained that I absolutely must be his pitch partner because he wasn’t going to do it without me. He considered me to be “his voice” and he wanted to share this journey with me all the way. Looking into the fire burning in his eyes I knew he was serious and that, even more importantly, of course he was right! There just wasn’t any way I was going to say “no” but I was not quite as confident or bold as Dave.
After our fishing holiday and “Dragon’s Den” discussion I went home to my wife and told her about my trepidation moving forward. I explained that I had this nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach and a deep, abiding fear of letting him down and/or letting his dream fail.
I just can’t disappoint him — I explained to her, pleading my case.
She looked at me and softly, simply told me — You won’t.
About six weeks after my great, good friend left to go back home, Dave’s business dream ended. He died in a tragic motorcycle accident and both our families grieved for the loss of a great Father, Friend and Family Man even as we now and forever continue to cherish his memory.
My heart was broken that day, he was my very best pal and he was taken from us far too soon.
But, luckily for me, I had solemnly promised him before he left my house that I would see his business vision through and I’d made a promise to him that I would help fulfill his dream. That dream is now one that I have made into my own.
A dream for his family and mine to live a fulfilling, meaningful, worthy life and a vision to provide all of North America with an outstanding, superior product that will protect their homes as it keeps their roofs clean from moss and algae and so protect their own families from material loss.
It’s a simple vision from a simple man and one I’m proud to carry forward.
I am proud to pass on the legacy of David Spencer and sincerely hope it will be taught and passed down for generations to come. He was the great man and an even greater friend.
This is for you pal! We’re right there now — So let’s finish the job!