The Journey from Product Idea to National Distribution
Had the honour of speaking with Robert Kundel, Jr. for almost one hour last week about his journey creating his multi-tool product, the Restorer, which just hit store shelves across the United States and abroad.
Robert has been working for his family business, Kundel Industries Inc., since he was sixteen and now runs the crane division. Kundel is a manufacturer of production safety systems including overhead cranes and trench shoring equipment. Operating for over 50 years, Kundel has done work for large corporations like Facebook, Uber, Ford, NASA, Boeing and much more.
Building cranes as one of their divisions, Kundel works with large steel beams and pipes. When the raw steel beams and pipe come to their manufacturing plant, they are covered in rust that needs to removed; a process that can take one guy three or four hours to complete. Seeing the time and cost required to complete the rust removal and painting prep, Robert was inspired to find a better, more efficient way.
After a little thought and a lot of ambition, Robert went home to research a little, taking apart his wife’s Dirt Devil. With his knowledge of motors and gears that he gained from building cranes, the ideas starting flowing. He made a trip to a local hardware store, purchased an angle grinder for $20 and disassembled it for the parts. Using Auto-CAD to design a frame, and with a little help from a friend who was a tool and die maker, Robert was able to create the first prototype.
After years of perfecting the product, dealing with manufacturing challenges, chasing distribution leads, and talking with big name brands like Dewalt and Black & Decker, Robert finally struck a licensing deal with Porter Cable. A journey of seven years, from product inception to mass production, Robert’s invention hit the shelves of Lowes in late 2016.
Throughout the journey, Robert faced all sorts of challenges and victories. With less than $3500 out-of-pocket expenses, he was able to create and bring a product to market. He even worked directly with the factory to manufacture his product!
Robert is an inspiration and a man of action. When he saw an opportunity, ran after it with relentless pursuit until he saw completion. He is a stand up guy with a much larger vision than just making money. He is set on impacting lives; which I believe is the ultimate purpose of money. Our interview was very candid and I could easily tell that Robert is the real deal and always looking to help out his fellow entrepreneur.
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