Power Quick propels profits at Bonanza
“Spider-Man move over.” So says Cathy Jacobson, chief executive officer of Bonanza Products, a subsidiary of Carson City-based Quoin International Inc., to describe the company’s Power Quick Inc.
powered personal ascender.
The patented technology was developed to help U.S.
Special Forces get to rooftops quickly and safely and to board enemy ships in short, to climb with the ease and speed of Spider-Man.
Military sales have already been made to Jordan, says Jacobson, after the United States contracted with the Middle Eastern nation to train Iraqi soldiers.
A replacement for manual rappelling gear, which requires the climber to use leg muscles, the propellant-activated device gets soldiers up a five-story building in 10 seconds or less, says Jacobson.At three meters per second, that’s faster than a man can run.
The device is small, using a solid propellant cartridge good for one use.
Although it won’t be available for a year, the military in the meantime will use a battery-powered commercial version.
Battery-powered, the commercial unit moves a man 18 inches per second, which is walking speed, says Jacobson.
Good for about 12 minutes of climbing, the battery is rechargeable.
Jacobson sees a vast market for this version: Move oil field workers to the tops of tall rigs and up towers at petrochemical plants.
Hoist highwire workers up trees and poles.
Lift miners and cave surveyors.
Boost search and rescue teams up from pits or down from cliffs.
Help firefighters reach victims.
The product won’t be sold at sporting goods stores because it is not a toy for untrained hobby climbers, says Jacobson.
Did the idea come from the recent spate of Spider-Man movies? No, says Jacobson.
She and husband Mike, Quoin International’s CEO and chief engineer, got the idea from reading bulletins from the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency.
Wanted was a way to get soldiers quickly to the top of a building.
Speed was important, to dodge bullets while climbing.”We looked at the challenges of the project, and at our technology base, which was rotating equipment and flywheels used in engineering systems for missile defense and propellant-activated devices,” Jacobson says.
The Power Quick also is used with a lightweight collapsible tripod in a system to rescue injured pilots from the cockpit of the FA22, the newest Stealth bomber.
“During thousands of hours of training, it’s important that the device not touch the body of the plane,” says Jacobson,”because that might scratch the expensive, special coating that provides cloaking from radar.”
Lessons on lightweight composites learned from that project were applied to the ascender, currently at 14 pounds without the 13-pound battery.
Eight pounds is the goal.
A world of people wanting the product are beating a path to their door, says Jacobson.
“The market is driving production.We’ve got sales coming out our ears, but need to go into production.
The challenge is raising money.
The orders are so huge, our problem is finding the financing to fill them.
On such large orders, it’s hard to trickle fulfillment,” she says.
“Northern Nevada Bank has been tremendous in helping with funding,” she says.”The Small Business Administration was also a great help.”
The company is looking for investors.
“The Middle East is a big market right now,” says Jacobson,”We’ve done a first delivery of 20 ascenders to trainers.Next month we’ll ship 60 to fill existing orders on the waiting list.”
The units will sell at between $4,500 and $5,000, not including the 36-volt battery.
Production is just starting, but “We need to deliver 100 for field feedback.” Search and rescue squads at China Lake, who routinely rescue climbers in the Mt.Whitney region, field test the beta units for a year and more.
Review of tests and protocols is handled by Allen Gates, chair of the engineering department at UNR.
Customers are slavering for product because of potential savings.
A windmill farm in Tehachapi, Calif., for instance, pays thousands of dollars an hour for massive cranes to lift the workmen up to repair the blades.
“By hanging permanent ropes and using power ascenders, they can literally save millions,” says Jacobson.
In oil fields, she says, the Power Quick can replace a $24,000 piece of equipment that’s always breaking down.
TS Oil Distribution Co.
in Canada already placed a $1.8 million order.
“We did a demo for 15 top Canada customers in November,” says Jacobson.”They want 100 a month to start.” “So many markets, so little time,” she says.
Bonanza Products’marketing program teams with professional training companies.
Jacobson is building a distributor program worldwide.
Climbing equipment sellers will market to the steeplechase industry.
How does an inventor protect a new product from illegal copies?
“We think customer service will protect our patent,” says Jacobson.”One needs certification to operate the ascender.”
Distributors in Canada, Turkey and South Korea will have profit incentives to protect their own territories, she says.However, attorneys are already on retainer to protect against patent infringement.
Quoin International relocated to Carson City last April.”We worked with the Northern Nevada Development Authority very closely,” says Jacobson.
“If not for the NNDA we would not be here.We were in Ridgecrest, a small place in the middle of nowhere.We had a hard time keeping engineers on staff, because no one wanted to live there.”
Quoin leases 8,000 square feet of space at Radtke Tile and Marble, but is working with a local real estate agent to locate property for a planned expansion of 15,000 to 20,000 square feet, says Jacobson The company plans to hire 20 employees to manufacture the Power Quick ascender.
The Web site iswww.bonanzaproducts.com
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