Recently Eric Graff, managing partner of Hansen Pole Buildings, and I have been discussing the possibilities of a new post frame building at our home distribution center in South Dakota. Eric is a shrewd buyer and has negotiated some significant discounts from vendors for the purchase of materials in bulk quantities (think of a semi-truck load of entry doors, as an example). As products are delivered, it becomes a challenge finding places to safely store them.
I’d explained to Eric how when I owned my first business, we had built an elevated catwalk along the inside wall of the building we used to manufacture trusses. In our case, we had truss frames designed which we could attach to the columns, put joists in between the frames and once the joists were sheathed we had a secure platform to store – entry doors!
Along has come someone with an idea which is probably quicker, easier and less expensive than my frames.
Here is their story:
Thank the first person ever to pound stone against stone, then to adhere a stick to the stone to transfer even more energy to the hammer. Thank the stone chip that became the blade with which to saw. Thank progress and the wooden spike that became the nail then the screw.
And thank Lloyd Scott, a carpenter with 30 years in the trade who faced several problems on the jobsite. On construction sites in and around Macomb County, Michigan, Lloyd needed a way to reach high places in tight quarters out of the way of other tradesmen. Sometimes, he needed a shelf to arrange larger tools. He needed a tool that could serve both as ladder and shelving and could be set up and taken down quickly. This tool needed to be simple, easy to carry, easy to transport, and, most of all, easy to use.
In the 1990s, with prototypes built to his specs by a welder, Lloyd began to use his new tool on jobsites. Other trades took notice. Electricians found use for Lloyd’s tool when wiring at ceiling level. Other carpenters found use for Lloyd’s tool when raising roof trusses for installation. Using Lloyd’s tool, they felt safer than they did when balancing themselves along the roof line. Lloyd’s tool grew in popularity.
One day, Lloyd left his new tool at home. On the jobsite, the tradesmen complained. Lloyd’s tool had made their jobs easier and safer.
Lloyd knew he had a hit. He obtained a patent that same year, patent 7,360,627. And then…nothing. Lloyd continued to use his tool with a promise that, one day, he’d bring his tool to market for the benefit of tradesmen across the country. One day, he promised himself.
Twenty years later, Lloyd met Bill Bowser, an US ARMY Veteran with a keen business sense and a tenacity ten times any equal. A partnership was formed, a business plan drafted, promotional materials crafted. Through Bill, Lloyd knew he would make progress on his promise.
The product made its debut at a Michigan builder’s show in 2014. The show was a success. Lloyd’s new tool was named the show’s most innovative product. But then, the let-down – all Lloyd and Bill had were the prototypes built 20 years before. Visitors to the builder’s show wanted to place orders. While demand for Lloyd’s tool was high, supply was zero.
Lloyd and Bill have developed a long term relationship with a world class manufacturer, Venture Manufacturing Group of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Venture saw in Lloyd’s tool not only the many possibilities on the jobsite, but other uses as well – as shelving for pole barns, garages, and warehouses; as support for countertops and tables for persons with accessibility issues. More progress.
In 2015, the National Home Builders Association named Lloyd’s tool the 2015 Innovative Safety Idea of the Year. The award gave Lloyd, Bill, and Venture just the energy needed. Venture’s product engineers perfected the prototype. Product testing exceeded expectations. Venture’s manufacturing engineers calibrated machines on the shop floor, churning out Lloyd’s tool by the hundreds.
For more information on post racks, or to order online go to www.post-rack.com