The San Diego resident left the District on Jan. 9 for a cross-country road trip aboard a repurposed firetruck. Through his journey, Lorell hopes to encourage retailers to promote American-made products.

Tell me about your mission.

There's no reason why retail stores can't group American-made products together just like supermarkets do with organic products.

You said you are targeting big-box stores?

People generally think that everything [big-box retailers] sell is foreign-made. In fact, if you go to Walmart, they have a wide variety of American-made products, but you can't find the stuff because the stores are so big. If you put them in one area -- "Patriot Zone" is the name I've been using -- people could go there and cruise the aisles for American-made stuff. Showing that they're willing do this to support the country and support jobs would get [stores] a lot of great PR, and it would be a win-win for the manufacturers, as well as the retailer, as well as the consumer.

Why a firetruck?

Everyone seems to really enjoy seeing a firetruck, and I think it just wraps it up with this whole red, white and blue kind of theme.

What do you plan to do after you get to San Diego?

I've got a couple of manufacturers that we're talking to that would actually want us to visit every state and just keep it going to keep that awareness out there.

How did you get involved in this effort?

For about a decade, I was a yacht captain, and I ran a couple of large passenger boats in Los Angeles. When the economy started to falter and people were being laid off, it just devastated my business. To me, the only way to get back the strength of the middle class is through employment. To do that we have to increase consumption.

- Rachel Baye