When Great Plastic Products Fail

Not too long ago I blogged about how moldmakers are often approached by entrepreneurial types with no manufacturing background about building molds for new product “inventions”. I also touched on the fact that many moldmakers themselves invent things, and I requested personal stories from readers. This is about a great product that didn’t do so great.

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The True Quiet Treestand was designed and developed by a tooling engineer and his brother. While the product met all standards for safety and was well-received, customers could not get past the past.

 

Not too long ago I blogged about how moldmakers are often approached by entrepreneurial types with no manufacturing background about building molds for new product “inventions”. I also touched on the fact that many moldmakers themselves invent things, and I requested personal stories from readers. This is about a great product that didn’t do so great.

Robert Cianfrocco, who, over the course of 45 years, has worked as a process engineer, project engineer and tooling engineer, emailed me about a product he and his brother designed and developed: The True Quiet Treestand.

Robert explained how the tree stand was designed to be all plastic versus the traditional metal material, and that it would be used to hunt whitetail deer. Both brothers made significant financial investments into the project.

“Having been in the industry all my life, I knew what to expect regarding tooling and processing and the relative costs associated with bringing the product to market,” he explains. “We had the five parts drawn up in CAD by a friend of mine. We successfully built the tooling and the product passed testing requirements set by the Treestand Manufacturers Association, which included its ability to hold one-and-a-half times the weight that we stated in our literature it could hold. In this case, we said it would hold up to 300 pounds, when in reality it passed tests for holding up to 450 pounds.”

Once the certification was awarded, it was time to try selling the product to the big box stores and promoting it at trade shows.

“Everyone loved it, but in the back of their minds was always the fear of sitting 20 feet off the ground on a piece of plastic,” Robert says. “The stigma created by plastic products that were not designed properly or were not made from the right plastics materials back in the 1960s and 1970s and failed—that stigma never passed the test of confidence.”

Robert and his brother put five years into the True Quiet Treestand, and they were even able to price it competitively and guaranteed it for life, but to no avail.

“We all remember the plastic forks and spoons that broke when we pushed down on our food with them,” he says. “We all had that radio that broke when we dropped it back in the late 60’s or early 70’s. Things have changed regarding plastics but some people just didn’t!”

Despite the outcome, Robert says his brother has not lost heart and has been working on yet another new product that he hopes to bring to market soon. As for Robert, he is content with his work as principal engineer for a major medical OEM.

Thank you, Robert, for sharing your story. I hope more MMT readers will share their experiences. If you have a story, please email me and maybe I’ll blog about it.

 

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