A trip to the dump brought inspiration via frustration, spurring local inventor Jeff Dahl to create what he hopes will be the next big thing in the world of tie-downs.
"I've always wanted to invent something," said Dahl, 41. "And I've never known how to tie a proper knot."
Aggravated because he couldn't untie the knots he'd made to secure his load of junk, but jumpy around regular bungee cords which Dahl said have a tendency to slip loose, spring back and smack a fellow in the eye, Dahl determined it was time to develop a method of securing loads that would offer the best of both worlds.
"I was looking for something that was a rope with loops like truckers' hitches," Dahl said.
Enter the LoopRope — Dahl's bungee-cord-based tie-down system.
Initial permutations included lengths of bungee cords, plastic zip-ties and flawed sewing schemes. Field testing revealed the design flaws.
"The zip-ties fail and the needle puncturing the bungee cord wasn't a good idea," he said.
But trial and error led Dahl to a better bungee. Copper couplings, plastic covers and a specially designed crimper helped Dahl create more than a hundred colorful LoopRopes since his invention received its $8,000 patent-pending notice on Christmas Eve.
At first orange and black, green and yellow, blue and gold, black and red, LoopRopes dangle from pegs in Dahl's east Medford garage. Now he has moved into a warehouse off Parsons Avenue. His first retail outlet is at Advantage Tire in Medford.
"Our plan is to keep LoopRope made in the USA and, more importantly, in Medford," Dahl said.
The LoopRope comes in 3-, 4- and 5-foot lengths and are priced at $9.99, $14.99 and $19.99 accordingly, he said.
Dahl's invention has been garnering some high-profile East Coast admirers, he said. Representatives for Cello Products are interested in mass producing the LoopRope and marketing it under one of their lines, he said. Another representative for QVC is also interested, he said.
"It could really be big," he said, adding he's happy to hand over production of the LoopRope for a nice licensing agreement.
Dahl sent 150 LoopRopes to a plumbing distributor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The contractor resold 35 of the 5-foot lengths to another distributor who sells dog crates, he said
LoopRopes can be made in the colors of your favorite school, Dahl said.
"I can make them in virtually any color combination," he said.
Dahl owns several Oil Stop shops in Jackson County with his brother, Brandon Dahl, who holds high hopes for his brother's invention.
"I've been watching the development," Brandon Dahl said. "The idea was born when he took that trip with the trailer. He just thought there had to be a better way."
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.