Rico Elmore is a big guy. And if you ask him, he’ll tell you he’s got a big head, too. But not a big head in the sense that he’s full of himself or conceited; he’s really quite humble. He’s just got a larger-than-average dome – or “fat head” as he calls it.
A former truck driver, who still has his commercial license, Elmore drove for a company that installed ATMs across the country. His handle at the time among other truckers was the “money man,” and Elmore said he delivered and installed all the ATMs for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
But during his time as a driver, and as a bigger guy with a “fat head,” Elmore had an impossible time finding sunglasses that would properly fit him. Everything he found squeezed his head and would give him a headache, or his eyes would become fatigued from squinting too much on the road all day.
He ended up developing a company called Fatheadz Eyewear in March 2004. Fatheadz recently launched its new All-American V2.0 sunglasses collection. The latest initiative is the fifth product line under the Fatheadz brand.
March is significant month for Elmore since he met his wife on March 5, 1996, and the two ended up celebrating their birthdays together on their first date the following day. The couple married eight years to the day they met. And on their birthday, March 6, 2004, Elmore founded his company.
“I came up with the idea of Fatheadz Eyewear mainly for the fact that I could never find eyewear to fit my fat head,” he told American Trucker. “I’m a big person. If I find a shirt that fits that I like, I’ll buy five colors of it. I never had that opportunity with eyewear. That’s really the most humbling part of it – we are touching this many people’s lives daily, and that is something to me.”
The latest line, the All-American V2.0, adorns a “Made in America” mark and offers a range of sunglasses for those who are unable to wear average-sized eyewear. The shades offer lenses designed with materials commonly used in fighter jet canopies, making them more resistant, according to the company. An anti-reflective coating added to the inside of each lens reduces reflection to diminish eye strain and fatigue. The lenses provide 100% UV protection and are glazed to repel water, grease and fingerprints.
The new line also offers customization capabilities, such as a preferred frame style, desired frame color selection, branding insignia color and polarized lens color.
Fatheadz is also donating a portion of every sunglasses purchase to Folds of Honor, which provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members.
“Myself, my wife, and our operation with our teammates – we believe in our military,” Elmore said. “And if anybody deserves it, the military deserves it. They go above and beyond for very little. One of our initiatives is hiring veterans – abled and disabled – because we believe in them.”
As for the Fatheadz demographic, Elmore likes to refer to it as “eight to 80.” That’s “eight-year-olds with a fat head or 80-year-olds with a fat head,” he quipped, adding that he’s got a lot of blue-collar workers as customers.
Speaking of those blue-collar workers, Elmore explained his shades are designed with those who drive often in mind.
“These shades give you comfort,” he noted. “They don’t squeeze your head so when these folks are driving for eight, nine hours a day, at the end of that shift they don’t have a headache. They don’t have creases down the side of their head where the glasses were squeezing them.”
“The other thing is the polarization of our lenses,” Elmore added. “It makes it a lot easier on their eyes with the anti-reflective lenses where their eyes are tired from squinting or getting blasted by the bright sunlight all day.”
One of the company’s initiatives going forward is to create more business and jobs here by producing more the sunglasses in the United States. The glasses that support Folds of Honor are made in America, but Elmore said the intent is to do the same for all lines in the future.
When reminiscing about his life as an over-the-road trucker, Elmore said it’s something he wouldn’t trade for anything.
“I respect the trucking industry. They’ve got a very tough job, and at the end of the day, without the trucking industry, America would not work,” he said. “They are the heartbeat of commerce and moving products. There are plenty of four-wheelers – as the truckers call it – that don’t believe that. At the end of the day, they’re the ones that get [the freight] up and down the road so we have it at our house.”
Fatheadz Eyewear is available for at www.fatheadz.com, preferred optical shops, and online retailers worldwide.