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Global Ozone’s Origin: From a Navy Ship to NFL Locker Rooms

March 6, 2023by Global Ozone

When you think of upstart companies founded out of a garage you may think of Apple, Microsoft, Google — and Global Ozone. 

Back in 2003, Global Ozone inventor Patrick “Pat” McKenna and his partner Chuck Christner built their first four units right in Pat’s garage before shipping them off to a military base in Japan. Twenty years later, you can find Global Ozone sanitizing units in military bases, school gyms, and NFL training facilities across the country (and the world). 

Get to Know Our Founders 

We’re proud to be a veteran-founded company that continues to serve military members today. Beginning his career in 1980, Pat McKenna served in the United States Navy for over 20 years. During his long and exciting military tenure, he had the opportunity to wear a number of different hats — including time as a naval engineer, diving officer, and gas specialist. 

Pat first conceived the idea for Global Ozone while aboard a U.S. Navy ship. Like most parents, he couldn’t stand his son’s sweaty hockey gear that seemed to contaminate his room with odor. Using his knowledge as a gas specialist, he realized that the same ozone gas that they used to sanitize the ship could come in handy at home, too. 

Pat also ran a consulting business at the time and happened to walk into a local accounting firm for advice on his taxes, where he met his future business partner, Chuck Christner. The two got to talking about Pat’s many grandiose business ideas, and Chuck began to consult on cost projections. 

In a very early iteration of the Sports-O-Zone sanitizing system, Pat showed up with a freezer box with an ozone generator inside of it, saying that this was how he had been freshening up his son’s hockey gear. While it may have confused some people, this device piqued Chuck’s interest, leading them to formally set up the company in 2003 under the name Sports-O-Zone.

Ozone Sanitizers for Athletes & Military

On the sports side, Pat and Chuck originally thought the product would work almost like a vending machine at hockey rinks, where parents could quickly freshen up gear before heading home. They put their first machine at an Elkhart, Indiana rink and personally went to tournaments, practices, and games to promote it. To start their business out on the right foot, Pat and Chuck agreed to donate their first earnings to a local youth organization.

While the original idea came from smelly hockey gear, the partners quickly realized that their products could be useful for military and law enforcement. Using his many military contacts, Pat made their first deal to ship out Sports-O-Zone to a base in Japan, and the garage workshop was born. Since ozone is commonly used in the military, Chuck and Pat saw a lot of success in that market, and decided to change their brand to include all of their clients — thus the change to Global Ozone Innovations. 

NFL Success 

While military members understood ozone technology and easily adopted it, people in the sports world didn’t exactly get it at first. Rather than continuing their vending business model, they decided to sell the machines to individual athletic departments and teams. The Global Ozone team found an Indiana-based manufacturer and set out to tell the sports world about the power of ozone sanitizers.

The duo was thrilled to find early success in the NFL. Pat had connections with the Rams (who were still based out of St. Louis at the time) and sold them on the Sports-O-Zone system. The Rams and their trainers became early advocates for the business, allowing Pat and Chuck to conduct studies and tests on the effectiveness of their machines to prevent common locker room pathogens without damaging gear. This led to other teams adopting ozone systems, including a long relationship with another NFL team, the 49ers. 

Global Ozone Today

In the 20 years since Global Ozone’s founding, a lot has changed: new product lines, new team members, a lot of growth, and even a shift in leadership. 

Ever motivated by his entrepreneurial spirit, Pat McKenna stepped back from the company to focus on his many other business ventures — but remains proud of Global Ozone’s continued success. Chuck Christner continues to lead Global Ozone, alongside Mark Eades, Rik Kain, and George and Libba Pickett.

Interested in trying Pat’s invention out for yourself? Reach out to us today for a quote.