Inventor and entrepreneur Bruce Feldman has had many product ideas and often encountered that moment of seeing an idea he’d thought of on a store shelf and wishing he’d patented it. When he came up with the concept for The Ultimate Leaf Lifter, he decided to patent, manufacture, and sell the product. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Bruce about the process.
NAN PRICE: You’ve had other ideas for products in the past. How did you come up with this concept and why did you decide to move forward with it?
BRUCE FELDMAN: One day, I saw my neighbor using two rakes to bag leaves on his front lawn. I saw the way he was using the rakes and thought: there’s got to be a simple way to build a tool that can do exactly that. I came up with the idea, which is very similar to salad tongs or the old antique ice tong. It’s a perfect tool to pick up a huge amount of leaves.
Once I had the idea, I had to convince myself that this was a product that could make it one day. With other ideas I’d had, I was too late. Someone else had got it to market. I’d see my idea on the shelf at Bed Bath & Beyond and smack my forehead! That tells me that my ideas are worthy and it gave me the confidence I needed.
NAN: In terms of creating the product, how did you get from point A to point B?
BRUCE: The first thing I did was get the process started to get a patent going. I talked to a couple of patent attorneys, some computer-aided design (CAD) file designers, and I got a recommendation of an attorney.
In terms of manufacturing, I started with some PVC electrical tubing, which I melted in my oven and molded to shape it and make the first prototype to see if it would actually work. From there, I knew that I had to make it very lightweight. So, I immediately went to aluminum. With the rake heads, the whole thing weighs in at a little over 2.5 pounds. The products are now being made in Ohio. So, I came up with the idea, but I’m not physically making the products.
NAN: How have you been getting the word out about your new product?
BRUCE: Last fall, I drove around the neighborhood and I wrote down the address of all the homes that had 20 leaf bags or more in front of the house on pick up day. This year, I put flyers in 300 doors. I got about five responses from that. I also got about 15 responses from a story run by WeHa.com and another 20 from the Neighbors and Friends in West Hartford Facebook page. So, I have about 35 units out in West Hartford.
I’m trying to get it into people’s hands because I’m looking for people to test out and endorse it. The idea is the more excitement I get through Google, Facebook, and Instagram, the more people will learn about this product.
One of the people I left a flyer with was local marketing consultant Prati Kaufman, who invited me to some networking opportunities and helped make connections to enhance my website. And she posted about me inventing the product and you reached out for a story—funny how that works!
Also, I’m currently selling the Ultimate Leaf Lifter on my website, on Amazon, and at Manchester Hardware on Main Street in Manchester and Butler’s Garden Center on Park Road in West Hartford.
NAN: What’s next for you? Do you think you’ll continue to patent more ideas?
BRUCE: Right now, I’m a little busy! If this idea takes off, I could sit back and play with the other ones. I’m becoming more and more elated with all the responses and comments about the product and it’s been exciting to see how much people are enjoying it.