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Cordova’s Core Values: A Veteran-Owned Business Reflects on Veterans Day 2021

On Veterans Day, some get a day off but many go to work like every other day. A few will even pause to remember those who served their country and check in with old shipmates, squad buddies, or fellow brothers in arms across generations. Cordova’s co-owner, Gentry Jensen, and custom graphics expert Gregg Cahill are two veterans that commemorate this day, remembering what service means to them, and taking on a new mission in the civilian world.

Gregg served on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier during Operation Provide Comfort, Desert Shield, and Desert Storm. His claim to fame is being the most junior enlisted man to troubleshoot aircraft on the flight deck during wartime. His strong work ethic and incredible attention to detail continues to this day.

Gentry was commissioned as an officer in the Navy SEALs and he left with a few deployments under his belt, including Southwest Asia, Western Pacific, and the Former Yugoslavia. Two highlights that stick out were the time he circumnavigated the whole world, inadvertently, and the time he successfully balanced two barf bags (not his own) without spilling on a particularly rocky carrier trip.

On Veterans Day, they think back on the good times and awkward situations that always produce the best stories. Aside from operating multi-million dollar equipment and traveling to exotic locales, they remember working with some of the best people in the country with the strongest commitments to what they do. Gentry and Gregg are hard-charging veterans who imprint their years of experience (except for the barf bag stuff) on every outdoor cooler that’s shipped out the door.

Re-discovering the “Why” at Cordova

Before life at Cordova, adjusting to the civilian workforce proved challenging at times. Gentry relayed that “the ‘why’ was missing for me for a long time.” Gregg agreed. Veterans tend to know exactly why they served and why they performed the jobs they did in the military. Proudly doing their duty and watching a buddy’s back probably rank the highest among those reasons. After high-intensity tours in places like Kuwait and Bosnia, pulling daily shifts on a busy flight deck, and keeping technical skills razor sharp, working in the grind of the civilian world can be demoralizing. That strong sense of purpose is lost.

“I’m not really motivated by financial statements. Sure, I like money, but at the end of the day, it’s not terribly fulfilling,” Gentry remarked. “I found renewed purpose in creating quality products here in the US. It’s tough, it’s hard work, and takes a lot of sacrifice but it’s fun to make good stuff and give people the best value,” Gentry concluded.

Employing good people like Gregg to make great gear is also one of Gentry’s new “why’s.” Like Gentry, Gregg also found meaningful work at Cordova. “It brings me back 30 years,” Gregg said. “Gentry is running a good show here, the people are friendly, the environment’s great, I like my job, and everyone seems happy with their job.” Gregg and 40+ of his fellow cooler creators work together each day to produce and finish premium hard coolers by hand. They believe in the product, they’re proud of what they do, and they have each other’s backs.

Taking on a New Mission

Gentry hasn’t forgotten what makes a high-speed, low-drag organization flourish. From his days as a SEAL, he learned the value of integrating adaptive leadership, objective-driven teamwork, and operational excellence to overcome extreme challenges and get results. Capitalizing on that experience, Gentry assembled a tight-knit group of diligent production staff and efficient operations personnel at Cordova’s Nampa, ID facility. In the end, as Gregg says, “performance speaks louder than your title,” and each team member can be trusted to deliver high quality work.

The mission has changed but the core values have not. Certain experiences from military life stick with veterans forever. They mold character and drive an ambition to find real meaning in work and daily life. Whether it’s creating jobs for hard-working Americans, providing their customers real value, or putting the finishing touches on a product that lasts a lifetime, Gentry and Gregg continue to serve with a purpose here at Cordova.

We thank all veterans for their service in our armed forces as well as their continued service in our communities. Cordova has a standing offer for veterans to take 15% off their order and this year, from Nov. 4 through Nov. 11, 2021, they can take 20%. From hard coolers to drinkware and gear, veterans save 20% so they can loadout for cooler adventures.

Fun Fact: Gentry’s hometown is Emporia, KS, which is the birthplace of Veterans Day. Emporia’s Congressman, Ed Rees, introduced the measure to change Armistice Day to Veterans Day in order to honor veterans from both World Wars and it was signed into law in 1954.

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