A veteran, women-owned business in Oak Harbor supplies equipment and equipment to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, the Navy and the entire military.
Brittni Darbonnier and Shawn Kurtz are the founders of Darbonnier Tactical Supply. Both are Navy veterans and have lived on Whidbey Island since 2012. They first met and eventually got married in 2009 while stationed in Virginia.
Darbonnier wanted to stay in the military after leaving the navy, and Kurz worked for another tactical supply company. In 2013 they decided to go independent.
The business began in the basement of the house rented by the couple. They started small, selling boots, binoculars and flight deck gloves to NAS Widby’s squadron. Over time, their business spread mainly by word of mouth. Originally sold only to the Navy, it now supplies all branches of the military.
The couple wanted to remain on the island and realized they needed the kind of equipment they were providing. We partner with about 500 manufacturers.
“A lot of people think the military must have huge warehouses full of boots and gloves and helmets,” Darbonnier said. “Not necessarily. They rely on the support of distributors like us.”
Darbonnier Tactical Supply sells uniforms such as two-piece flight suits, flight deck boots, fuel handling and maintenance gloves, goggles, ammo pouches, flashlights and protective equipment. Whidbey Island sells a lot of rain gear. The company also provides uniforms for the Oak Harbor Fire Department and works with the Island County Sheriff’s Office, County Jail and Oak Harbor Police Department.
The company tailors orders to military personnel’s daily operations and deployments, which require a wide variety of equipment. Some are sent to jungles, others to deserts and mountains.
The fact that Mr. Darbonnier and Mr. Kurz are veterans gives us an insight into the products they sell. They have hands-on experience with a lot of equipment. In fact, all of the company’s employees are veterans or spouses of veterans. People with a military background are simply better suited to work in this field, they said. Working in a company is not the same as working in a typical private job.
“To be in this business, you have to understand tempo,” says Darbonnier. “The military is 24/7, 24/7.”
She always has her cell phone next to her and is always available to answer. Last year she had to complete her order on Christmas Eve. They have dedicated their lives to the company. We are always up and running, so we have a reputation for being a reliable company.
She and Kurtz strive to communicate with their customers, calling everyone by their first name, which is unusual in the military world.
She said it was a long and difficult road to get the business to where it is today. Military needs are always changing. The business had to completely reorient itself during the COVID-19 pandemic, selling almost exclusively personal protective equipment such as face masks and hand sanitizer for five months.
Darbonnier Tactical Supply has 26 team members and another location in Richmond, Virginia. We also have employees in Alaska, Texas and Louisiana.
Kurz said what he likes about the business is “working with the military as a customer versus a standard retailer that has to deal with the average consumer, but it’s not very fun.” said.
He said that in the military world everyone looks out for each other.
It’s clear that Mr. Kurz and Mr. Darbonnier care very much about their employees. They loved watching them grow, both personally and financially. Providing jobs on Whidbey Island is important to them.
“Today, we have seven or eight people who have bought homes because they worked with us,” Kurtz said.
Talent is hard to find on Whidbey Island, so people with no experience in the field are often hired. Their employees have shown tremendous dedication to learning an entirely new industry.
For more information, please visit: dtacticalsupply.com.