Presidential, in a casual
sort of way
A Tierra Verde company offers to pay $4-million to deck out
George, Tom, Teddy and Honest Abe in its sun visors.
By HELEN HUNTLEY, Times Personal
Published May 20, 2006
South Dakota summers must get awfully hot for George Washington and his
stony-faced companions up there on Mount
Rushmore. A couple of St. Petersburg area entrepreneurs think they have just what the quartet
of ex-presidents needs: sun visors.
Richard Lawrence and Clare Hudson, who run PROSHADE from an office in their Tierra Verde
home, are offering the National Park Service a rather outrageous proposal:
$4-million if they can deck out the presidents in PROSHADE visors for the
"We thought it would be a great gesture to try to give
something back," Lawrence said. He said the money could be used to help restore the
monument, which was completed in 1941.
Of course, the project also would generate lots of press
for PROSHADE. The 3-year-old private company makes visors that can be attached
to sunglasses, avoiding the need for a band around the head. Hudson came up with the idea, Lawrence said, because "she doesn't like hats and neither do
The visor has a pocket that can be used to hold money or
keys. Take it off and it becomes a case for sunglasses. Drop it in the water, and
it floats. Made in China, the visors come in a wide variety of colors and patterns
and are sold through sports and optical shops and online retailers for $20. Lawrence said PROSHADE sells and is working on a Corona beer visor and other licensing deals.
Lawrence, 51, a former sales
and marketing consultant, acknowledges that he hasn't worked out the logistics
of installing visors on 60-foot-long granite faces. He's waiting, he said,
until he can get the park service's approval. He assumes,
he said, that it will cost a lot.
"The company is in a very solid financial
position," he said, declining to reveal its sales.
The park service did not respond to our inquiry, but we're
guessing some people might object to altering the monument, even temporarily. Lawrence has an answer to that:
"We tend to look at the PROSHADE as something that
enhances someone's appeal, so we don't really think of it as a
defacement," he said. He compares the idea to environmental artist Christo's projects, such as the orange gates he installed
in New York's Central Park.