The founder of fast-growing Grunt Style, a military-themed clothing brand headquartered in San Antonio, claims he’s been cast out of the company.
Daniel Alarik, who started Grunt Style in 2009 and served as its CEO until June 2019, said Monday in a Gofundme post that the company recently fired him. He’s seeking online contributions for his family’s mounting health care expenses.
“I was terminated from the company that my wife and I founded and led for 10 plus years, Grunt Style,” he said in the post. “We were devastated and shocked.”
The company, which bills itself as a lifestyle brand for military veterans, first responders and their supporters, moved its headquarters to San Antonio from Chicago in 2018. Turbulent times followed for Alarik.
“Unexpectedly in 2019, we had an outside partner come into the business, which forced me to be removed from the CEO position, and I lost control of the company that we started,” he wrote. “Everything we had was invested into Grunt Style. But now we were left with no money, a minority equity and just an employment contract.”
The company named Glenn Silbert, an apparel industry veteran and University of Texas alum, chief executive in February.
Company officials, however, said Alarik remains part of the company.
“Daniel still plays a leading role at Grunt Style as the chairman of the board and holds significant equity in the company even though he no longer runs the day-to-day operations and has not done so since June 2019,” a company spokesperson said. “We are working through this matter directly with him and respect his privacy as we do with all employees of Grunt Style.”
According to Alarik, the new leadership and partners dismissed him, offering no reasons for the action that he claims left him jobless and without income or health care coverage.
“I filed for unemployment while I look actively for work, and I’ll do anything that can help feed and support my family during this time,” he wrote. “There’s no shame in any work that provides for your family.”
Alarik, a former Army drill sergeant, started selling patriotic and military-themed t-shirts from the trunk of his car. He built the business with his wife, Elizabeth, into a multi-million-dollar company.
“We have taken the fighting American spirit and instilled it in everything we do,” Grunt Style’s website says. “You do not have to be a veteran to wear Grunt Style, but you do have to love freedom, bacon and whiskey.”
With sales in excess of $100 million, nearly 400 employees and more than 2 million social media followers, Grunt Style is famous for its apparel emblazoned with American flags, crossed muskets and in-your-face slogans.
“We are left with very little and need help with Liz’s fight for continued cancer treatment and one of our son’s special needs,” he wrote in his Gofundme post. “We are responsible for 100% of the medical coverage and need help.”
Alarik remained optimistic as his family battles health and employment hardship.
“I have no doubt that we’ll be back on our feet someday. But that might take some time,” he wrote. “In the meantime, what matters to me the most is my family. That’s something that I hope can never be taken away.”
Alarik wrote that he’s “not here to tell you to not buy from our old company, quite the contrary, there are good people there still.”
With his massive social media following, the announcement spread fast. Hundreds of people showed their support for the Alarik family across social media platforms.
“This is devastating,” Dane Peters wrote on Facebook. “You’ve been a huge inspiration to myself and my team. I don’t have a single doubt you will be back on top even higher than before.”
Few mentions of Alarik remain on Grunt Style’s website.
Alarik did not respond to requests for comment.
Brandon Lingle writes for the Express-News through Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. To read more from Brandon, become a subscriber. [email protected] | Twitter: @Brandlingle