Young entrepreneur commended with Gifted Teen Award

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Jan. 4—Tripp Phillips, who received investment from an investor on the television show "Shark Tank" for his Le-Glue invention, has received the Georgia Association for Gifted Children's 2021 Gifted Teen Award.

The commendation is "recognition I've accomplished something, so it's nice," said Phillips, a sophomore at Dalton High School. "I don't talk about it that much, because I try to stay humble."

The commendation recognizes students between the ages of 13 and 17 who have demonstrated giftedness, dedication, creativity and the desire to help others, according to the Georgia Association for Gifted Children. Winners are acknowledged with a certificate of recognition from the association's president, a plaque and a $500 scholarship to be used "toward the cost of summer camp, college or other appropriate activity related to his/her academic or community work."

Phillips believes he shares the award with Martha Thomason, a teacher for Westwood School's gifted students program, and all the other teachers "who helped me get started," he said. "I didn't even know about this" award until they brought it to his attention.

Phillips began his Le-Glue journey with a voluntary project in third grade, and "we all know where that went," said Thomason, a key mentor to the burgeoning inventor and entrepreneur. He received this latest award last year, and "he is in a very elite group of (youth)."

In 2018, Phillips, then 12, won the inaugural PitchDIA (Dalton Innovation Accelerator) contest for entrepreneurs with Le-Glue, a non-permanent, non-toxic glue that holds Legos and other building blocks together without damaging them. Phillips started making hand sanitizer for local first responders during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic alongside his father, Lee, a lab director for Professional Testing Labs Inc.

"My dad has a bunch of chemicals in his lab, and we thought, with all the need, we might as well help out," Tripp Phillips said. "We did it for a few months, until (demand) died down, and now we just do it (by request)."

The Le-Glue business not only has held steady during the pandemic, but actually grew, as "lots of kids were home from school during" the pandemic, he said. Phillips makes Le-Glue — more information can be found online at https://le-glue.com/ — in a warehouse housed inside his father's business, so "it's a pretty small operation, (but) I go most days of the week and in the summer, too."

Phillips has become "the model for entrepreneurial success" for youth in Northwest Georgia, according to Bryan Macon, Dorsett Industries' president, who recommended Phillips for the Gifted Teen Award. He's "a gift to our community, our state and our country."

"Our country needs young leaders" who "set an exemplary example for others to follow (through) words and deeds," Macon added. "The life that Tripp is living by giving back to the community through his financial support to nonprofits, by continuing to work hard at both his schoolwork and his business, and by giving his time in volunteerism is worthy of recognition."

An "objective of ours is to inspire other kids," Tripp Phillips said. He and his father have "made some videos and talked to camps" about entrepreneurship in order to encourage other youth toward entrepreneurship.

"It's all part of giving back," he added. "We try to give back to the community and just be nice."

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