It Was All a Dream…

by: KIT
● June 14, 2023

Hi, it’s me KIT! Yes yes y’all, she’s baaack…..

By now, you may have heard a thing or two or five about TRI and Be Smart Get Prepared®. And if you read my last post (which you totally should, if you haven’t), then you’re more in the know than you know. Y’know? And so, the saga continues…

Who is Be Smart Get Prepared®? At the forefront, you see cute, consumer-friendly first aid kits and emergency products. But the people behind the scenes are quite interesting as well and boyyy, do we have stories to tell.  So, let’s take a minute or two or five to get to know the founders, the creators, the movers and the shakers. Shall we?

We know George and Merlyn Rivera started this gig back in ‘91, but what we don’t know is the backstory of their first aid business. Like, of all the things and all the ideas, WHY first aid?? So here are the facts y’all. And if you need the receipts hunny, we got those too…

Fact #1: George C. Rivera migrated to the U.S. from the Philippines when he was 18 years old. He landed right smack in the heart of Los Angeles, where dreams are made. But all he wanted to do was turn around and go back home because shooting marbles and playing pool with his homies were the top priority. True story!

Fact #2: Two months after George arrived, he found all the reason in the world to stay. There she was…. standing amongst a crowd of suitors at a hotel motel Holiday Inn party (it was really the Bonaventure Hotel, but I couldn’t resist)… Merlyn Ducusin, a breathtaking Filipina-American hottie from Palm Springs, caught his eye. Once he broke his way through the crowd of “others” it was game over. Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours….

Fact #3: George told her he was from Hawaii because he thought it sounded exotic. Well, whatever he said that night worked, because after a few more dates at McDonald’s, he put a (borrowed) ring on it and wifed her up. Apparently, that’s just how it was done back in the day. No wedding, no savings, no house, no plan…. just love, dedication, and intuition. From there, they just figured it out.

Fact #4: George has always been a mover and a shaker. He worked hard to pave his way into the American standards of living – providing for his wife, and eventually their four children. He thought he wanted to be a lawyer, but then fell into finance. He then found huge success in real estate brokering before he got hit with the entrepreneurial bug.

Fact #5: George and Merlyn started a series of small start-ups; from Kiddie Wonder Prep School (it was a bright pink preschool! Like, helloooo Pepto Bismol), to an export business called Product Sources, which ultimately led them to the foundation of Total Resources International (TRI) in 1991.

Fact #6: TRI started out making educational briefcases that Merlyn, the creative one, designed called Ed-U-Case. Based on natural disasters occurring throughout the country, the power couple started packing the Ed-U-Cases with Emergency Survival Kits – food, water, first aid, yada yada yada.

Fact #7: George persistently and fearlessly knocked on and knocked down corporate doors – selling their Emergency Survival Kits to Thrifty’s and Alpha Beta. And they were a HUGE hit… after earthquakes. With the unpredictability of knowing when the next earthquake or natural disaster would happen, George struggled to find a solution for a product that could be sold year-round to make that year-round money. Ya feel me?

Fact #8: After praying to God, meditating on it, writing down notes and ideas, Merlyn very simply and casually said, “Honey, just take the first aid out of the survival kit and make first aid kits.Like, DUH. 

And there you have it. The immigrant who originally just wanted to go back home to his country, is now a business owner and CEO, a proud U.S. citizen, and an important member of his community. Total Resources International now resides on a 7-acre facility in Walnut, California and is minority family-owned and operated by George and his three daughters Dawn, Gina, and Geolyn. What started out in their garage is now the authority and leading manufacturer of first aid kits in the United States of America. You see folks…. George didn’t know back then, but obviously God knew exactly what He was doing and had a master plan for Mr. CEO.

OMG I still have a thing or two or five more things to tell you. So, make sure you come back next month for all the cute, juicy tidbits. See yaaa!

K.I.T (keep in touch)

(because we make kits, DUH)



KIT is Be Smart Get Prepared® and Be Smart Get Prepared® is KIT, a brand personified. The walkin’ talkin persona. Simply put, the national brand of the best first aid kits in the nation. But don’t get us wrong, we’re not just a logo or a catchphrase. We’re a statement, an entire mentality – an invitation to a lifestyle. Born in ‘91 and over 30 years later, living our best life, living a legacy, and just getting started. Oh and btw, our name is KIT because we make kits, DUH.