Year: 2019

Twist & Seal Featured in the Wall Street Journal

How I Thought of It: An Entrepreneur Wanted to Keep Holiday Lights From Going Out

Water kept ruining outdoor decorations, so he invented a gadget to keep them dry

By Barbara Haislip Nov. 29, 2019 9:57 am ET

For years, Bryan Nooner and his wife, Mari-Beth, struggled with the same problem around the holidays: keeping the outdoor decorative lights on.

It seemed every time it rained or the snow melted, water would seep in between the light-cord connections and trip the circuit, shutting off the power to most of the outdoor lights.

“We used electrical tape, duct tape, waterproof tape, plastic bags and plastic bottles,” says Mr. Nooner. But nothing worked.

On a rainy day in December 2010, the Nooners were getting ready to entertain a large family gathering at their home in Mokena, Ill. But as they were getting close to start time, the outside lights went out again.

“We grabbed an umbrella, a towel and some tape and proceeded to unwrap, dry off and retape what seemed to be an unending number of holiday-light electrical connections,” Mr. Nooner says.

So, Mr. Nooner spent most of that evening locked in his office, drawing designs of what would eventually become Twist and Seal—a shell that covers and protects cord connections.

He says that his background—he studied biology and previously worked as a high-school teacher—helped him understand how to test various designs in controlled experiments. Meanwhile, the slowdown in the economy had brought Mr. Nooner’s home-building business to a standstill—which gave him the time he needed for those tests.

“Thousands of man-hours were spent in 2011 drawing, carving, designing, modeling and testing various sizes, shapes and materials,” he says.

A prototype of the first Twist and Seal product was completed in the fall of 2011. By February 2012, Mr. Nooner had a fully tested production piece in hand and a patent filed. He took a friend’s advice to set up a booth at the National Hardware Show that May. “I packed up the Suburban and was off to a glorified science fair,” says Mr. Nooner.

Then came a big break: Twist and Seal won the prize for Most Innovative Product of the Year, according to Mr. Nooner. (The National Hardware Show says it doesn’t have records on winners that far back.) The victory was such a surprise, Mr. Nooner says, he didn’t go to the awards ceremony because the team was busy with customers. Someone had to find him to present the award.

The product took off from there. It landed on the shelves of Home Depot, among other retailers, and sold about 30,000 units in 2012. Since 2013, the company has sold more than six million units in the product line—with prices ranging from $4.99 to $29.95—and it can be found in more than 20,000 retail locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

“The Twist and Seal story is an American story,” says Mr. Nooner. “How awesome is it that you can be free to innovate and develop your ideas and have the freedom to turn your dreams into reality?”

Ms. Haislip is a writer in Chatham, N.J. Email reports@wsj.com.


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Rhino Cart Wins 2019 Most Innovative Product

The Rhino Cart all-terrain moving cart was created from the frustrations faced when using a traditional moving dolly. Door thresholds, small stones, cracks in the sidewalk, and uneven surfaces all stop a traditional dolly in its tracks. When you’re moving an awkward and heavy item, abrupt stops can be dangerous. We set out to simplify the effort needed to move large and heavy items at home, in the shop, and on the job.  

The Rhino Cart is specifically designed to conquer uneven and rough surfaces such as uneven hard pack dirt & gravel while carrying up to 1,000 lbs. With 8 heavy-duty urethane wheels, the Rhino Cart can roll up and over cracks, thresholds, ramps, transitions, stones, cords, and even 2×4’s. Moving just got easier. 

Rhino Cart is a division of Midwest Innovative Products. MIP has a long and successful history of manufacturing and sales in the tool and hardware industry. Rhino Cart and all MIP products are proudly made in the USA. 

After over a year of product development and research, Rhino Cart was officially unveiled at the National Hardware Show in May of 2019. Rhino Cart was an immediate hit at the show and won two prestigious awards: Most Innovative New Product and Retailers Choice Award. 

ABOUT

Rhino Cart is an all-terrain moving cart specifically designed to conquer thresholds, uneven surfaces, and even hard pack dirt & gravel. Rhino Cart is a division of Midwest Innovative Products. Visit: midwestinnovativeproducts.com


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Colfax Creek Leads the Recapitalization of Premier Engineered Products


ABINGDON, VA / BIRMINGHAM, MI – Colfax Creek Capital formed Premier Engineered Products, LLC (“Premier”) to recapitalize Appalachian Cast Products (“ACP”) and to integrate the production of Premier Die Casting into its facility in Abingdon, VA.

Premier Engineered will be led by Mike Ryan as President and CEO in conjunction with the existing ACP management team. “Premier will expand its position in aluminum die casting, while making further investments in new operational capabilities, including value-added machining, to accelerate growth,” Ryan said. “Our focus on operational improvement will benefit our customers as we continue to enhance our cost-effectiveness and delivery in the industry.”

“I am pleased to partner with Mike Ryan and the Premier/ACP team.  Mike has been around the die casting business for much of his career and has a good operational team in place at ACP,” said Jason Duzan of Colfax Creek. “We are focused on leveraging ACP’s operational capabilities to serve Premier Die Casting’s customers and to expand machining operations to better serve its existing and new customers.  With this recapitalization, we have provided Mike and the team with the capital necessary to expand its operations into further machining and to take advantage of growth opportunities within the industry.”

Mike Ryan, CEO of Premier, added, “Jason Duzan at Colfax Creek has been a long-time business relationship and Premier provided us a terrific opportunity to team up to build a business platform in the aluminum die casting and machining industry.  The integration of Premier Die Casting’s customer’s production not only added significant additional sales but also new value-added capabilities to provide our customers.  The Premier team and I are realistic about the challenges of the business integration, but we are also excited about the benefits to our expanded customer relationships.”

About Colfax Creek Capital

Colfax Creek is a private investment firm that takes a long-term approach to investing in smaller middle market companies.  The firm invests in consumer product, service, and industrial companies in the Great Lake States.  We prefer to support existing management in control investments, but we will support limited management transitions.  Colfax Creek is based in Birmingham, MI.  For more information visit: www.colfaxcreek.com.

About Premier Engineered Products

Premier Engineered Products through its operating subsidiary, Appalachian Cast Products, produces superior die cast parts and tooling, along with metal finishing and CNC machining through state of the art machinery and processes. Specializing in aluminum and zinc alloys, engineers and production staff develop a high pressure die casting process that produces economical parts with reliable quality.  The business is headquartered in Abingdon, VA.  For more information visit: www.appalachiancast.com.


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