Factory Floor: Cheers To That
The custom drinkware manufactured by industry supplier 2 Monkey Trading Co. is designed to help companies and brands stand out by communicating a message that is bold, blunt or symbolic—or anything else the client wants it to be. The supplier’s products are easily remembered, serving as conversation starters, but they’re also in full view for clients, who come face to face with brand messaging every time they take a sip from the glassware.
The Orlando, Florida-based company specializes in manufacturing drinkware that is unusual, not only because it incorporates a unique design element, but also because it’s four dimensional. The company’s Lucky Shot® brand includes an array of products made with bullet casings—bullet bottle openers, bullet-embedded drinkware and ash trays made from fired tank rounds, to name a few. The products are something that end users will both enjoy and look forward to using, and post to social media. But the story behind Lucky Shot goes beyond just aesthetics. Doug Ingalls, president of 2 Monkey Trading, developed the brand concept in 2012, inspired by memories he’d shared with his father, who worked in the collectors’ business specializing in firearms and militaria. Ingalls is also a collector himself, and spent years adding cartridges and militaria to his collection, along with trench art; decorative pieces made by soldiers, civilians or prisoners of war using war refuse, like bullet and shell casings and shrapnel. After years of collecting, Ingalls and 2 Monkey Trading launched its flagship product as the Bullet Bottle Opener, a bottle opener made with an upcycled 50-caliber BMG bullet shell casing, and a product segued into the Lucky Shot® line.
Today, Lucky Shot consists of hundreds of items, many of which are made with sustainability in mind. 2 Monkey Trading purchases most of its fired ammunitions (bullet casings) directly from the U.S. military. “Many of them by the tractor trailer load,” Ingalls says, and all of the bullet casings used by the company are upcycled. The casings also undergo an assessment process, where every case is individually examined to ensure its safety, and then, if it meets safety standards, it is “cleaned, machined, re-cleaned, refurbished [and] assembled.”
The company also manufactures its Stuck In Glass® brand, a spinoff to Lucky Shot and one that, Ingalls says, was imagined and discussed over a few glasses of wine. The concept behind Stuck In Glass is pure custom. Clients can personalize the four-dimensional element embedded in a selection of barware to fit their respective industry, their client’s industry or brand, or the theme of an event or initiative. Embedded items have ranged from starfish, sand dollars and shark teeth, to dice, poker chips, fishing hooks, guitar picks and golf tees, along with many others—and they’ve all been very well received, Ingalls says. Some of the company’s high-profile clients include the Dallas Cowboys and Guns N’ Roses, and it has designed and developed products for more than 100 military balls. Recently, 2 Monkey Trading worked with a client on a custom casino chip project, with the client’s custom chip embedded into the glass, along with two-sided printing. All the company’s printing and most of its embedding operations are done in the USA at the supplier’s Orlando facility.
Another division of 2 Monkey Trading focuses on creating limited-edition collectors’ items. One of the most standout items includes the Freedom’s Throne, made from heavy artillery, which debuted as the company’s display centerpiece at the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show) Show 2020, held in late January in Las Vegas. The USA-made, eight-foot tall showpiece retailed for $17,800, and was made using nine 105-milimeter howitzer shell casings, five 105-milimeter howitzer projectiles, four 106-milimeter recoilless rifle shell casings, one 120-milimeter Abrams tank shell casing, five five-inch Navy Destroyer shell casings and two 100-pound practice bombs. The supplier donated 20 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the Freedom’s Throne to Wounded Warrior Outdoors, a Winter, Florida-based nonprofit providing therapeutic outdoor experiences for wounded servicemen and servicewomen across the continent.
But behind 2 Monkey Trading’s family of products is also a family business. The supplier was founded in 2006 in Orlando by Ingalls and his wife Lynne, the company’s owner and managing member. At the time, neither had experience working in the promotional products industry, but Ingalls’s fascination with trench art and collecting militaria led the couple into jewelry design and sales before they found promo. Together, they opened up Preco, a jewelry accessories manufacturer, which made a name for itself in selling toe rings to resorts and tourist attractions. The company grew to 75 employees and more than $5 million in sales before the Ingalls sold it in 2001. They kept the entrepreneurial bug alive when they later founded 2 Monkey Trading, a manufacturer specializing in shooting sports and related products.
Over its 14 years in business, the company has welcomed its second-generation of employees. Their son Ray Baretta serves as production manager and has been with the company for eight years, and daughter Brooke Ingalls is the operations manager, and has been with the company for nearly seven, and all have found their niche.
“All family members have their own expertise and place in the company,” says Ingalls, describing his role as sales and marketing with a focus on concept development, and Lynne’s in system organization and product development. “Getting used to working with your family takes time, understanding, and, most of all, respect for one another.” He adds, “We are really a great team now and have a fantastic extended family with all of our other employees.”
The lead-free, solid copper bullets used in the Stuck In Glass product line are ordered from a U.S. military munitions supplier.
The different glass styles are made, and then carefully heated to a specified temperature with a torch. At just the right time, a steel tool is gently pushed into the glass to shape it.
Once the cavity for the item has been created, the glass goes through a multi-level cooling process to prevent cracking and breaking.
After the glass has cooled, the item to be embedded is prepared and then secured in place with a special epoxy.
About 2 Monkey Trading Co.
Principals: Lynne and Doug Ingalls
Date founded: 2006
Most popular or signature product(s): Its flagship product is the original Bullet Bottle Opener, crafted from the casing of a .50 caliber machine gun round as well as the Bullet Whiskey Glass.
Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.