Values Based Leadership
Global Small Business
Special Operations Veteran (Ranger)
Free Trade Agreement Importance
War Zone Education
A 2001 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Matthew earned a degree in Engineering Management. Commissioned into the Field Artillery, he served with the 75th Ranger Regiment on three tours to Afghanistan and one tour to Iraq as a Company Fire Support Officer. He planned and participated in over 100 Special Operations direct action missions.
After departing the military as a Captain in 2006, Matthew moved to the private sector and worked in the Construction Industry. While he excelled as a leader in this first postmilitary role, the work did not adequately represent Matthews personal core values.
In 2008, Matthew was invited to serve as the Director of Military Sales for Remote Medical International in Seattle, WA. During this time, he helped develop military medical training programs serving customers around the globe. Working in the defense sector eventually led him back to Afghanistan to assist with infrastructure development.
After witnessing the positive effects of economic growth in conflict areas, Matthew recognized an opportunity to empower mindful consumers to support “Business, Not Bullets”–flipping the view on how wars are won.
In 2009, Griff co-founded Combat Flip Flops with a fellow Ranger Lee and brother Andy and the three partners established the mission to manufacture peace through trade with forward-thinking, self-determined entrepreneurs affected by conflict.
Combat Flip Flops was born, as many small businesses are, in a small garage in Issaquah, WA.
From 2010-2014, Combat Flip Flops worked to develop a viable product line that could be wholly supplied from Afghanistan including raw materials, manufacturing and finishing.
Combat Flip Flops chose to work with were defense manufacturers that produced combat boots and uniforms. As defense spending decreased, the livelihoods of thousands of Small business entrepreneur and Army Ranger, 37-year-old Matthew Griffin co-founded Combat Flip Flops in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2009. local-national men, women and especially children, were at risk. This created vulnerability and volatility. Combat Flip Flops decided to partner with these factories to give the people meaningful employment and education opportunities so that they could support themselves and stabilize their communities.
Over the years, the business overcame many challenges including factory shut-downs, shipping restrictions, escalating war zones, and political struggle. In 2012, the team realized that a post-war Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Afghanistan did not exist – a critical policy that has been established to promote sustainable business growth in several post-conflict areas such as Vietnam and Columbia.
In 2013, Combat Flip Flops partnered with post-war manufacturers in Bogota, Columbia with the aim of showing measurable economic progress to the governments of the United States and Afghanistan, and encouraging them to establish their own Free Trade Agreement to support a local workforce with safe and reliable job opportunities and education.
In 2014, Matthew gave an internationally recognized Ted talk and Combat Flip Flops aired on ABCs Shark Tank in February 2015. The team is currently negotiating distribution with amazon.com, NEXCOM, AAFES and Cabella’s.
Current products include footwear (Columbia), sarongs and shemaghs (Afghanistan), jewelry(Laos land mind clearance), clothing (Nicaragua), and bags (USA). The team plans to expand the product line in coming seasons to include Afghanistan sourced cashmere and new footwear.
Matthew was recently honored as part of the 2016 Puget Sound Business Journal 40 under 40. He is married and has two daughters. In his free-time he enjoys mentoring fellow veterans both personally and professionally, mountain biking, skiing,hunting and adventure travel.
One of Matthew’s core values is global service. Team-5 Foundation, is a veteran nonprofit comprised of volunteer teams that travel to extremely remote areas around the globe in need of medical assistance. Their motto, “In order to be involved, you must first show up” is critical to mission success. As the current Field Operations Officer, Matthew has supported numerous fundraising events and also participated in deployments such as Expedition Overland Central America in 2015 and Peru in 2016.