The Strength of Dads: How Father Figures Shaped TRX
The Strength of Dads: How Father Figures Shaped TRX
The lore around TRX founder and CEO Randy Hetrick goes something like this: Navy SEAL Randy needed a way to train for functional pulling while deployed for operations. Randy used a jiu jitsu belt to create the original TRX Suspension Trainer prototype. Randy’s SEAL team noticed the contraption, and his fellow SEALs asked for their own. Randy returned stateside, got his MBA, built a global fitness brand, and enjoyed his success. But that’s the oversimplified version of the tale. The broader version is defined by family, hard work, and the strength of fathers.
“I had the good fortune of growing up really with two dads—my dad and my stepdad—and they both contributed interesting things to me,” he said.
His father had a work ethic Randy characterizes as “a force of nature;” an old-school Kansan who instilled in Randy the need to go out and prove himself.
“It was funny because my dad was a dentist, but I think, psychologically, all he ever wanted to be was a race car builder. He was always in the garage. He was either in somebody's mouth or in the garage in an engine.”
Randy credits his father with teaching him how to be resourceful and to work tirelessly to bring an idea to fruition.
“He was like MacGyvver. Whatever it is that needed to be fixed, he could fix it. He was the guy that was up working until one in the morning on a Sunday night, and then waking up at six to hit the dental practice all day long. That sort of work ethic and that grinder mentality I definitely got from my dad.”
Randy caught the business bug from his stepfather, whom he describes as a serial entrepreneur. “He was very much of the you-can-do-anything mentality of the classic entrepreneurs… My stepdad was of the mind that you need to expose your kid to things that both are important to you and that maybe he or she otherwise would never get exposure to. He'd been a Marine in Vietnam, so I got interested in the military primarily through him.”
Randy sees himself as a mashup of that paternal input—the inventor and businessman. “They were both very good dads,” he said.
While his father figures shaped Randy’s interests at an early age, fatherhood also shaped Randy as an entrepreneur. In between his career as a Navy SEAL and his life as an inventor and CEO, Randy had another challenge: business school with an infant at home.
Randy was commuting between his home in San Francisco and classes at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, so his wife shouldered the bulk of the responsibility for their newborn son during that time. On top of classes and fatherhood, he was fleshing out the idea for building a company around the Suspension Trainer prototype had developed in his SEAL days.
Randy graduated from Stanford with his one-year-old son, Harrison, on his shoulders, but the TRX journey was just getting started. As a startup founder, he knew that his business would require considerable time and attention, and that he couldn’t be a super doting father in those early years. Once again, he leaned on his wife—this time with the hope that if TRX failed, it would fail quickly so he could pivot into a more traditional job.
It’s a struggle that many parents—especially entrepreneurs—can relate to: wanting to be present for your kids, but also understanding that you’re working to create a better life and future for them.
“I figured that by the time that my little boy started to have activities where he wanted me to be there, I would be at the point where I would be able to do that. So from the time that Harrison was maybe three or four years old, I didn't miss anything. I worked all the time, but I didn't miss anything. And it's been that way ever since.“
Both of Randy’s sons—Harrison, 20, and Hawkins, 7, have spent their lives on TRX straps. “Harri literally grew up on the straps,” Randy said. “He was the three-year-old that was spinning and twirling and playing on the straps constantly. Hawkins followed in his big brother's footsteps. He's the same way: they grow up on the gear and in the midst of the TRX brand.”
Starting a company may have pulled Randy away from his family in the early years, but it’s also produced incredible memories with his sons. As his kids have traveled around the world with him for trade shows and events, they’ve been able to see and experience different places and cultures together—opportunities that may not have arisen but for those sacrifices.
These days, a lot of their family time revolves around sports. When his kids are in the middle of a competitive season, Randy happily assumes the role of equipment manager and chauffeur. (Though Hawkins is too young for team strength workouts, Harri’s strength training facilities have always been outfitted with TRX gear.) Beyond the sports arenas, his family enjoys skiing, surfing, and mountain biking together. Randy and Harri work out together when Harri is home from college, and Hawkins will likely join the family workout sessions when he’s older.
Just as Randy’s father figures helped shape him, he hopes his sons will learn lessons from his life as an entrepreneur.
The most important lesson he hopes to teach his sons?
“Never quit. Honestly, that is one of the most important lessons I think that you can learn as a person. And a corollary to that is don't be afraid to fail. I'm just not a believer in that word. That's why I almost have to put it in air quotes; because what is it? It's actually impossible to fail unless you quit. You can fall short of your goal, at which point you learn, you do better next time, and you climb another rung up the ladder. But the only time you genuinely fail is when you quit.”
When we talk about strong fathers, we’re talking about more than how much someone can squat or how fast they can run. The strength of fathers is in the way they shape their children’s lives—whether it’s inspiring kids to tinker, motivating them to try new things, or setting an example for healthy living.
For Father’s Day, and every day, TRX is proud to be the brainchild of a strong dad, and to support strong dads everywhere. Whether they're working out with their kids, or teaching them the value of hard work, we're happy to celebrate all of the incredible fathers in the TRX family.