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Harrisburg-based founders turn high school project into global vape-detection business

Harrisburg-based founders turn high school project into global vape-detection business

  • Triton Sensors grew out of a science competition project for brothers Lance and Garrison Parthemore and their friend Jack Guerrisi. Their vaping-detection sensors are used in 49 states and over a dozen countries.
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Sitting at an IHOP just hours before the Coronavirus pandemic shut down the country in 2020, brothers Lance and Garrison Parthemore and their friend Jack Guerrisi hatched a business plan.

Lance was a senior and Garrison and Jack were juniors in the Diocese of Harrisburg. Two months before, the trio had earned third place in the Governor’s STEM Competition with an innovative project aimed at detecting vaping in high school restrooms and locker rooms.

Over plates of pancakes, the three students took their project’s concept and decided to launch Triton Sensors, a company that develops and sells vaping-detection and school safety sensors.

From high schoolers to international executives

Lance, Jack, and Garrison spent the final stretch of high school growing an international company. Their first device shipped in January 2022. Since then, Triton Sensors has expanded rapidly, with its professionally manufactured sensors reaching schools and organizations in 49 states and 14 countries.

“I don’t even know what I’d be doing right now if I wasn’t doing this,” says Lance, a senior at Gettysburg College. “Triton is the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before bed. It keeps me motivated.”

“A lot of my friends right now are wondering what to do for internships and jobs,” adds Garrison, a senior at Vanderbilt University. “I feel like we skipped right to our 30s.”

Making an impact on teens’ lives

Garrison, Lance, and Jack are pleased that their innovations are having an impact on school safety around the world. When they entered the market, few companies were addressing the teen vaping epidemic. The exorbitant costs of existing solutions and the unfulfilled promises made to schools motivated the founders to create a competitive and reliable alternative.

The team is seeing its sensors have a significant effect. At one school, a student was caught with a marijuana vape pen, Lance says. The student was sent to a rehab program, after which his grades began to improve.

At another school, a Triton Sensor helped administrators catch a student with 14 vape pens that were being dealt to fellow students.

Administrators also have used the sensors to stop instances of “Narcan roulette” in school restrooms, in which students intentionally overdose on fentanyl and then depend on other students to revive them with the opioid blocker Narcan.

“What we’re doing is a contribution to society,” Garrison says. “We get kids in trouble, but we’re helping kids out.”

“We’re not just selling hardware. We’re selling changed lives,” Lance says.

A great place for tech

For Lance, Garrison, and Jack, every challenge has been an opportunity for growth and innovation. As young entrepreneurs with an admitted inclination toward instant gratification, they have had to develop the patience required to build a business and acquire expertise in their field. The experience they’ve gained has been immensely rewarding.

After college graduation, the founders will focus full time on growing Triton Sensors; Lance on developing and enhancing their product line, Garrison on building relationships and expanding industry reach, and Jack on researching and implementing new features and software to ensure their products are on the cutting edge of tech.

“You don’t have to move to Silicon Valley to start a tech business,” Lance says. “You can start a successful tech business right here in Southcentral Pennsylvania.”