Former Green Beret Is on a New Mission to Create

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By Wendy Migdal

An ammunition case becomes a cigar humidor, and a Green Beret becomes an entrepreneur. Such is the story of Glenn Hastings, founder of Valiant Vault, a small but growing company dedicated to producing uniquely crafted cigar and alcohol accessories.

Valiant Vault

A Valiant Vault humidor

Hastings first got the idea to create his special humidor — his flagship item — when serving overseas. A cigar was both a way to relax and a way to build a bridge with people. “We work with host nations’ forces, and we’re there to win hearts and minds. We learn from them, and they learn from us,” he says.

Cigars are not a common item in Europe or the Middle East, so they became a conversation starter and a way to build rapport. And a cigar needs to be kept at just the right humidity level, which can be difficult in rainstorms and sandstorms. And so Hastings realized that an ammo can, which could keep ammunition dry in all circumstances, would be the perfect choice for cigars as well.

Valiant Vault began operations in 2017, when Hastings left the military after 12 years as a Green Beret. More products were added to the line, such as serving trays and bottle openers from whiskey barrel staves, cigar punches from bullet casings, and travel-size cigar holders. This year will likely be a big year for the business, because Hastings recently left his second career as a Secret Service agent and can now devote more time to both production and marketing. Oh, and he’s also a self-employed personal finance coach and a real estate investor. Reinvention isn’t just what he does, it’s who he is.

Cigars must be kept between 65-72% humidity.

It took four years to perfect the ammo can humidor. Hastings tried several types of wood to line the box before he was satisfied. Then there was the shelving. He explains that cigars need to be kept at 65–72% humidity — too dry and they ignite, too wet and they won’t light at all. And even in most humidors, cigars are stacked, so only the cigars that are exposed to air are actually being humidified. So he came up with a unique shelving design that humidifies the cigars 360 degrees and protects them from rolling and breaking. The product was then sent out into the world, literally, to be tested. Hastings has many friends who are also Green Berets, and the humidor has been to 58 different countries.

All the wood used is sourced from local sawmills, the items made from barrel staves come from local distilleries and breweries, and the ammo cans come from the same company that produces them for the military (but no, they haven’t actually had ammo in them).

The labor supply is local, too. Actually, Hastings does most of the work himself, but has recruited several friends, who are mostly law enforcement or military, to help as well. He partners with someone in Linden for the leatherwork.

As a lifelong DIY-er, he’s also made bedframes, media centers, clocks and such for his home. But Hastings primarily sees himself as a problem-solver. “I like puzzles, and the harder the problem, the better it is,” he says, adding, “I heard a quote that successful people don’t say, ‘This can’t be done,’ but ‘How can it be done?’”

The personal part of the mission of Valiant Vault includes self-reliance. While proud to serve his country, Hastings is also happy now to be independent. His real estate and teaching income enabled him to leave regular employment, and now he’s not at someone else’s beck and call. Which means he can devote much more time to his young family. He no longer has to worry about having to miss anniversaries and birthdays because he was suddenly sent overseas. “I want my sons to see me as I saw my dad, working with his hands and seeing how things can be done… and trying to mold them to become better men,” he explains.

His other mission is simply to help others enjoy life, as he is doing now. “It takes an hour to an hour and half to smoke a cigar. It really forces you to sit back, relax, and be present.” He has many outdoorsy friends who take the C-ration holder as they hike in the mountains in Colorado, and gets satisfaction out of knowing he’s
created something that people can use and that brings them joy.

“When people send me photos of themselves enjoying a cigar on a mountain, it’s like ‘You’re a part of my story, and I’m a part of yours. This world is so small, and I want to be a part of your life and you to be a part of mine.’”

Wendy Migdal is a freelance writer who has lived in the Northern/Central Virginia area since 2000. She enjoys history, reading, and all things dog. 

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