Vicksburg native, inventor wants city to benefit

Published 1:11 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An inventor and Vicksburg native is looking to ensure Vicksburg gets a piece of the pie from his inventions that are being sold globally by encouraging the companies that make his products to open a distribution center in the city.

Lawrence Hardge, who owns Hardge Investments, is the inventor of the Knockout 360 fire extinguisher, a fire extinguisher that uses environmentally safe chemicals, that is being marketed on national television through Harvest Growth LLC, a national infomercial company that also promoted OxyClean, Kaboom cleaner and Snuggies blankets.

He recently finished shooting a video for another product, the “Super Tailgate Plate/ EZ Plate,” a plate with a center hole for a beverage, allowing a person to hold a plate and beverage in one hand, with Home Shopping Network in Tampa, Fla.

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“These products are being shipped all over the world,” he said. “I’m a native of Vicksburg, and I made a mark out there that is nationally known.

“We’ve got manufacturers in Florida, Illinois, Sacramento, Calif., and China. All these other states and countries are benefitting from someone who grew up in Vicksburg, Miss. I just feel like we owe it to our hometown to give something back. I don’t want first Vicksburg, and then Mississippi to be overlooked.”

Hardge, who now lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., and has another office in Warren, Mich., was in Vicksburg Monday looking at possible sites for the proposed distribution center at the suggestion of Sylvester Walker, who grew up with him in Vicksburg and recommended he return something to the community.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said he has not seen Hardge’s proposal, but is open to the idea of a center here.

“I’m not opposed to having something here that will help the economy of Vicksburg and create jobs,” he said. “The city of Vicksburg is open for business and I would have no problem writing a letter of support.”

The distribution center, Hardge said, will be operated by the companies. “I will have no involvement with the distribution,” he said.

He said the center would receive the merchandise from the factories and package and ship the products to the retailers for sale and to people who bought the items through infomercials or over the Internet.

Hardge said manufacturers would be in the area in June looking at potential sites for the center.

“They’re looking at the surrounding areas, but I’m encouraging my hometown to have first shot at this,” he said. “They’re going to look for available facilities. Time is of the essence (because) the products are ready. It’s an easy process. They could have it up running in three weeks.

“The orders are coming. The people have already paid for them. All our people in Vicksburg will do is package it and ship them to the stores,” he said.

He said the manufacturers already have distribution centers in Cincinnati, Texas, Illinois, California, but he wants Vicksburg involved.

“A lot of these kids that are running around here, I went to school with their parents,” he said. “They don’t have jobs, (and) it doesn’t require a degree to put products in a box and put tape on it. I’ve created jobs at all these other locations; I want to see some jobs created in my home state.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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