The life of Navy SEAL veteran Morgan Luttrell has taken many turns — most recently starting an eco-friendly campaign signage company.
Luttrell, the twin brother of Navy SEAL veteran Marcus Luttrell, who wrote “Lone Survivor,” started his career by getting a degree in psychology and philosophy from Sam Houston State University. He then enlisted in the Navy, graduating BUD/s with class 237.
Seven years into his career, he attended Officer Candidate School and commissioned as a Naval Special Warfare officer in 2007. In 2009, he sustained back injures including major damage to his spinal cord and suffered a traumatic brain injury in a helicopter crash during training. The spinal cord damage led to his eventual medical discharge in 2014.
In search of self
When he got out, he said he traveled the country trying to figure out how to “fix” his brain. He found the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas where he participated in a clinical trial to improve his cognitive ability.
Luttrell recalls when someone asked if he had considered getting an advanced degree while he was still in the military. To that, he had replied, “absolutely not, I’m frogman to the bone and I’m done with academia.”
But after finding the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Luttrell decided he wanted to be a part of finding the best way to treat injuries to the brain.
He asked if the offer was still open to study the brain himself. They told him to apply, he was accepted and earned a master’s degree in applied cognition and neuroscience. He eventually earning a Ph.D. focusing his studies on helping veterans with PTSD and other traumatic brain injuries at UTD.
During this time, Luttrell also involved himself with non-profit organizations helping veterans. Between his neuroscience and non-profit background, he was recruited to work as a senior advisor to Secretary Perry at the Department of Energy in D.C.
As weird as it sounds to jump from neuroscience work centered around veterans to working at the DOE, Luttrell explained that it wasn’t.
“The DOE is eloquently mistitled,” he said. “It should be the department of everything. The Department of Energy touches every aspect of human existence.”
He worked with a “cross-functional” team tasked with utilizing the nation’s supercomputers to process data on traumatic brain injury — doctors, clinicians, medical institutions, and academia had all been collecting data, but there was simply too much to be processing themselves.
“We put information into our computer that would have taken 100,000 scientists 300,000 years to compute and we did it in two and a half minutes. There is how the DOE can assist mankind when it comes to the healthcare side. We crunch numbers,” he said.
Luttrell recently completed his executive education at Harvard Business School, moved back to Texas, and started a company called Stronos Industries, where he is selling eco-friendly campaign signage.
Sign of the times
While working at the DOE, he learned a lot about how polluted the U.S. and globe are becoming. This led to a conversation with an individual who had patented a mineral coating for paperboard that makes it as durable as the plastics used for campaign signs but is environmentally sustainable — and Stronos was born.
“We supply a product that is biodegradable, made out of recycled paperboard, and is durable in inclement weather,” he said.
The signs are designed to last about 90 days depending on weather — if you leave them out in a hurricane they will degrade faster, but they will last a couple months in normal weather and forever indoors.
The pricing is competitive with chloroplast signs, only with a small price-lift because a specific printer must be used to get the paint to stick to the mineral coating. Luttrell started his partnership with the printing company, Packrite LLC, with a cold call that ended up working out.
“They’re great to work with and all about it,” he said. “It’s an American based, woman owned company. So we’ve got a veteran and a woman and it’s American made, a win-win.”
Luttrell and his business partner have closed a few deals and are getting their legs underneath them. One order was with Wreaths Across America, a non-profit that hosts wreath laying ceremonies on veterans’ graves throughout the year to honor their service.
WAA has been working on a campaign called America Strong, pushing to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic with a stronger America. An idea for a campaign sign promotion came out of a conversation with Luttrell’s brother and sister-in-law, who volunteer with WAA, said Renee Worcester, the Director of Outreach and Partnerships.
She looked into Stronos Industries and was sold.
“We just really love the environmentally friendly way of life and it’s another way of supporting a veteran owned business,” she said.
Worcester said WAA was happy with a seamless process and an order that came ahead of schedule.
“It’s been a pleasure working with Morgan and just having that like-minded organization,” she said. “We can’t think of a better organization to work with to get that message out.”
Luttrell says he hopes Stronos Industries will take off with more orders and eventually have the capacity to hire some veterans.
“Once the company grows, I have some resumes and they’re just waiting for me to say, ‘hey, we’re ready for you to come on,’” Luttrell said.
He plans to fill roles in sales, logistics, networking, and even get drivers for a delivery service later on. He said “the sky is the limit on that one.”