Coronavirus a year later: Nick Ripplinger, ‘It’s just full steam ahead on the future’

U.S. Army veteran Nick Ripplinger, president of Battle Sight Technologies, a resident business at The Entpreneurs Center. His company produces the MARC IR infrared writing stick, whose writing is visible solely to soldiers wearing night vision goggles, allowing covert written communication. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
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U.S. Army veteran Nick Ripplinger, president of Battle Sight Technologies, a resident business at The Entpreneurs Center. His company produces the MARC IR infrared writing stick, whose writing is visible solely to soldiers wearing night vision goggles, allowing covert written communication. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

A year ago today marked the moment that COVID-19 went from a emerging threat on a somewhat distant horizon to a grim reality that would kill more than 500,000 Americans in its first year and alter the lives of millions.

The Dayton Daily News checked in with 12 area business and community leaders and let them tell us what they learned about their lives, businesses and policy making during the pandemic.

ExploreCoronavirus a year later: 12 Daytonians reflect on the past and future

Nick Ripplinger of Battle Sight Technologies

Nick Ripplinger, president of Dayton’s Battle Sight Technologies, recalled that when the pandemic hit, he faced two options: “Tighten the boot straps” and try to hold on or invest in new products and charge ahead as far as possible.

“We chose the second one,” Ripplinger said. “We invested heavily into new products we wanted to develop. And we also pivoted and did the hand sanitizer to help the community a little bit. But it definitely paid off for us.”

Last spring, Ripplinger, a U.S. Army veteran, completely retooled his Craytech production line to bottle hand sanitizer. Craytech is the company’s flagship product, a writing device with a pressure-activated chemiluminescence that leaves writing markings that can detected by soldiers with night-vision gear, while remaining invisible to the enemy.

“I think initially there was definitely fear of the unknown,” Ripplinger recalled. “What are we going to do? And how are we going to survive this? But I think once you make that decision, it’s just full steam ahead on the future.”