By LINDA CHION KENNEY
Ask Brian Porter to talk about foam, and he’ll be more than happy to oblige, but he’s equally excited as the newly “elected” honorary mayor of Riverview to raise awareness for the nonprofits that benefited from his race, which included a kickoff foam party.
Porter, of Lithia, runs the Tampa market for Florida Foam Factory, which covers Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Manatee counties. Porter raised $13,620 in his February mayoral race, which benefited both My Warrior’s Place in Ruskin and the Impact Program, which promotes healthy lifestyles and relationships for teens and is located in Brandon.
As a board member for the Valrico FishHawk Chamber of Commerce, Porter knew of the Impact Program, as it was the chamber’s charity of choice in 2022. As a U.S. Air Force veteran, with 20 years of service, Porter said he had a personal interest in supporting My Warrior’s Place, which runs a retreat center for veterans, military service members, law enforcement officers, fire fighters and Gold Star, Blue Star and Silver Star families.
“I love that A Warrior’s Place helps families of those who have died in service, and that they also help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD],” Porter said.
Porter noted the nonprofit’s waterfront location, at 101 22nd St. NW, which he called “a place of tranquility” for evening boat cruises, which allow people served “to enjoy the sunset and the tranquility of the water and find some measure of peace.”
“There are many military members suffering from PTSD at some level,” Porter said. “For them to admit it, to allow someone to help them, is wonderful.”
Porter hails from a military family that includes a father and two brothers who joined the U.S. Marines and a brother who joined the U.S. Navy. When he enlisted in 1989, Porter chose the U.S. Air Force “because it was more of a corporate environment,” he said. “That being said, I joined the U.S. Air Force and served in Operation Desert Storm. It wasn’t so corporate at that point.”
Porter said during his service he learned a lot about discipline and teamwork, skills he used later as a corporate healthcare recruiter and uses now as a business entrepreneur. That occurred in late 2021, after his best friend talked with him about Florida Foam Factory in Orlando, which is how Porter came to run the Tampa market.
“I love taking it from beginning to end,” Porter said. “I love the ideas, I love the marketing, I love the operations and I love the interactions with people.” As Porter would put it, he has a “foam-omenal” time running “foam-azing” events for “foam-tastic” people.
In short, Porter said, “I’m just an idiot with a microphone who likes to have fun.” It starts with a booking, for such things as a school or church fundraiser, corporate event or birthday celebration. “We go to your location, and it takes about a half-hour to set up,” Porter said. “We blow white foam and I deejay music. I’m very interactive with the people at the event. It’s an hour of white foam and people dancing and having a good time.”
The cost for a basic event, up to 50 people, is $325 for the first hour. Corporate events, for 50-plus people, are $500. Moreover, Porter said, white foam has been supplemented with glow foam, and the business has expanded into offering bubbles (for weddings, proms, homecoming events and more) and snow (for Christmas in July and year-end holiday events).
“Most people have never seen or been to a foam event, so when I get there, and we turn on the equipment and the music, the parents and the kids light up,” Porter said. “People love to have fun, and if I can bring them a fun, exciting, unexpected event, that’s what does it for me.”
Still, it’s a business, and running a business is hard work, Porter said, especially when it’s hard to find dependable labor.
“That’s the number one flaw for every company out there,” said Porter, who offers $80 for two hours of work, with most of the work on weekends. “We can’t find people who want to work.”
As for the foam itself, “it’s plant- and vegetable-based and won’t hurt grass or any plant life,” Porter said. “It’s hypo-allergenic, so it won’t bother your skin or eyes.” Once blasted, “it goes away on its own,” Porter said, “and the more people play in it, the quicker it goes away.”
As a member of both the Valrico FishHawk and Greater Riverview chambers of commerce, Porter said he finds his involvement a boost for business. “The networking ability is there, but you can’t just expect things to happen,” Porter said. “You have to show up, get involved with the meetings and activities, and once people understand who you are and what you represent, that’s when your business grows.”
To book an event, visit www.FloridaFoamFactory. For employment opportunities, call Porter at 980-214-2897. Visit the chambers at www.valricofishhawk.org and www.riverviewchamber.com/. For more on Porter’s benefiting nonprofits, visit www.mywarriorsplace.org and www.whatisimpact.com/.