As Heatsheets Founder and CTO, David Deigan’s everyday role with our company transitions toward his retirement, Running USA CEO, Rich Harshbarger reached out to the Running USA network with the following heartfelt thoughts about their relationship and David’s career.
Leaders are made; not born.
Determination comes from an internal passion, rarely extinguished.
Innovation is the result of solving a problem before others recognize a problem even exists.
Each of these factors can describe so many in our industry, but when combined, they make me think of David Deigan, founder and soon-to-be-retired, Chief Technology Officer of Advanced Flexible Materials, best known to millions of runners as simply Heatsheets.
If you have not heard, Deigan is officially retiring April 22, 2015. Please don’t exhale all at once. There is mahjong-retirement in Boca and then there is retirement Deigan-style (sources tell me he will remain involved with the company and the sport with greatly reduced hours). And I am sure many of you will see him at the finish line in Boston and other races this year.
For those not familiar, Deigan has done so much for our industry since starting his company in 1980. Back then, he seized an opportunity from a shuttered factory that helped launch (literally) Skylab and other DoD projectiles into orbit. After taking over and renaming the company, Deigan began a process of continuous innovation and constant tweaking.
SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION
Deigan has never been afraid to surround himself with great people. His career is full of collaborations like working with the Association of International Marathons and Road Races in the early days – the group credited with developing the original “Space Blanket.” The product itself wasn’t enough. Upon finishing in Central Park that year, Deigan noticed the packaging and distribution could be improved. Today, Deigan is credited with offering a broad selection of products that go well beyond just the running industry. Heatsheets also remains rooted in technology and innovation. The company works closely with the University of Montana’s Work Physiology & Exercise program that simulates extreme weather conditions on athletes running in a controlled environment. Bio-feedback is then used to maximize product development and athletic performance.
One might say that Deigan makes blankets and capes and other accessories. One might be bold enough to say he prints logos on mylar. NOTE: please don’t call it that. Technically, he makes vaporized aluminum stick to thin plastic substrates resulting in a flexible material that redirects infrared energy – I think I’ll stick to Heatsheets.
He may not be an engineer but no one can argue with pioneer for sure. So, in a few weeks Deigan will add “retired” to a growing list of past successes such as retired United States Air Force Captain; or retired three-term Running USA Board Member and many others. One title he is not retiring is that of husband, father, grandfather and perpetual supporter of the running world.
On behalf of Running USA, I’d like to say, “Thank you Dave for all you have done. Your vision and leadership inspires more than you may know. All the best for your next chapter.”
And who knows? Hopefully you’ll have your chance to say a special thanks and congratulations on a successful career if you see him. Just keep your eyes open. He’ll most likely be the one in a silver blanket.
Rich Harshbarger, Running USA CEO
Stay tuned to The Wrap for an ongoing blog series on David’s company memories.