As a longtime custom home general contractor, Incline Village resident Paul Zahler has routinely used bungee cords.
But when a friend called in 2012 and asked if he’d take over his project of bringing to market a one-size-fits-all adjustable bungee cord, Zahler was at a loss for words.
“I was very enthusiastic when talking with my friend about the product, and he told me to run with it,” Zahler said last week from the offices of Onegee Bungee Products LLC in Washoe Valley. “I said I don’t know the first thing about manufacturing.”
Fortunately, Zahler had plenty of time on his hands due to the downturn in residential construction and took on the project full time. Onegee Bungee on May 13 was issued a utility patent on the hook assembly and expects to receive its official patent paperwork this week.
The hooks are manufactured in Santa Maria, Calif., and the woven rubber cording is made in Rhode Island, but the Onegee is assembled locally. Per-unit cost is $12.99 for two Onegees and $24.99 for four.
Zahler still is defining distribution channels for the Onegee, but to date he’s placed the product in 25 locations throughout northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe Basin, including boat marinas, construction supply firms, RV centers, motorcycle dealerships and both the True Value Ace Hardware stores in Midtown Reno and Sparks.
Ace by far has Zahler’s best outlet for sales — Carter Bros. Ace Hardware in Reno sold $800 worth of Onegees in just three weeks.
“I would love to have it in every Ace; that would be all I need,” Zahler says.
Part of the problem, he says, is identifying the optimal target market for the Onegee because bungee cords are so widely used.
Zahler has worked full-time on the advancing the Onegee to market since 2012. To date he’s invested about $100,000 of his own money into the project. He’s seeking investment capital to help grow Onegee Bungee and also has been working with Rod Jorgensen at the Nevada Small Business Development Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, to define marketing channels.
“This has been a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants venture,” Zahler says.