Twelve years ago, Gene Luoma had a problem. His daughter had long hair, and it loved to clog up his bath tub. He tried a variety of different ways to get the clog out, but he was always unsuccessful. One day he noticed a sled hanging in his garage, and an idea began to emerge. He cut a piece out of the sled, notched it, and slid it down the drain. When he pulled it back up all the hair that had collected came up with it, reports Business North.com.
He never imagined that, little more than a decade later, up to 15,000 of his plastic strips would be sold daily at 35,000 stores nationwide. There are even people competing on YouTube to see who can get the nastiest crud on his invention, called Zip-It.
Months after the inventing the gizmo, his brother encouraged him to take the idea to market. Luoma brought his Zip-It to Menards and they said theyâ€™d take 100,000 of them. So he had a plastic molding company in Minneapolis make the first batch, which was off the shelves within weeks.
â€œOne day I was flying back from a trip in Florida. I was flying over all these large cities. I was looking out the window and said â€˜thereâ€™s a drain in every one of those houses down there and every one of them could use a Zip-It. It just fed on itself,â€ Luoma said.
Gene manufactured his Zip-It until one of the nationâ€™s largest drain cleaning product companies saw his invention at a Menards convention. He licensed the Zip-It to Cobra Products, and the small plastic strip was in 20,000 stores almost overnight.
â€œItâ€™s rewarding to come up with a simple idea and see it hit the market with such volume,â€ Luoma said.
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