Bob Gillis carved out quite the niche for himself with his enterprising geodesic dome tents. Now, the tents are helping victims devastated by the Haiti earthquake.
Haiti. Burning Man. The North Face backpacking company. Each shares an unlikely connection: one Santa Cruz tent company and the inventor behind it. It’s hard to believe that cutting edge, durable tents now being distributed to many homeless Haitians were born out of a forest in Aptos.
When Bob Gillis sold his first patent for a small tent design to The North Face in 1975 for $500, he didn’t know it would forever revolutionize backpacking tents from being A-frames to the geodesic dome shapes seen around every campfire today. Nor could he have guessed that more than three decades later, after blooming because of a little festival known as Burning Man, his Santa Cruz company, Shelter Systems, would end up providing tent refuge for thousands of Haitians.