Easing Technicians' Ups and Downs

June 25, 2007
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Long, hot days and large lists of service and installation calls can make for an exhausting busy season, especially for those working high above the sweltering blacktop. Add climbing up and down ladders, stairs, and scaffolds to the already strenuous schedule and oppressive heat, and contractors could find themselves short a technician. John Topper, a 22-year veteran of the HVAC industry, and president of Tradeworx Products Inc., considered each of these burdens when he designed The Liftworx Systems™.

MOVIN' ON UP

The Liftworx System is a series of webbing, rope, and steel lifters that allows an individual technician to lift and lower multiple loads of equipment without having to repeatedly climb up and down scaffolding or ladders. The system can be used on product boxes, buckets, toolboxes, and other equipment. It holds items up to 144 inches around, lifting a maximum of 30 pounds.

According to the company, each component is constructed of durable, industrial materials. The powder-coated steel lifters are stackable and compact. Multiple lifters can be stacked and stored in a 5-gallon bucket. The rope assembly is equipped with a cast steel bobber designed to fit in the center of the lifter and then slide into one of four slots.

Easy lifting from above is not the only function and advantage that Liftworx provides. Once on top of the roof, the system acts as a carrying handle for the item contained within the webbing. “The idea of this tool is to allow one person to line up all of the supplies, boxes, tool boxes, and tool pouches against the wall of the building,” said Topper.

“The technician only needs to bring the rope assembly to the roof. He lowers the rope and bobber, hooks the loads individually, and hoists them to the roof. When completed with his tasks, the technician reverses the process. Lower and release, lower and release. One trip up - one trip down.”

Making a technician’s job easier, however, isn’t the only benefit that this system provides. According to Topper, improved safety is also a natural consequence of using the Liftworx system. Making fewer trips up and down a ladder, while carrying an item, allows technicians decreased risks and increased energy savings. He believes that the ability to reduce a facet of physical stress offers contractors a chance to increase efficiency, be more competitive on bids, and save time and money. 

The Liftworx System is a series of webbing, rope, and steel lifters that allows an individual technician to lift and lower multiple loads of equipment without having to repeatedly climb up and down scaffolding or ladders.

PATENT PENDING?

The idea came to him while working in the San Francisco Bay Area. “I realized that a tremendous amount of energy and time was being put into just setting up for the job and getting all the supplies to the roof,” noted Topper. “I started drawing up different designs of tools to try and expedite this process.”

After testing his design on weekends and protecting it from the public eye, Topper shelved the concept when he received some negative feedback from lawyers involved in the patent process. “So, it just sat on a shelf in my garage,” he remembered.

The Liftworx rope assembly is equipped with a cast steel bobber designed to fit in the center of the lifter and then slide into one of four slots, allowing easy lifting from above.

In 2004, he decided to revive his original concept and went searching for a second opinion about obtaining a patent for his invention. With more positive feedback and a new hope, Topper began searching to partner with a manufacturer.  “I started visiting trade shows and making connections with prototypers and manufacturers.”

His diligence paid off. With a patent pending and a steel company on board, Topper’s invention was on the market by 2006.

“We had to race to have the rest of the other parts completed in time for the product launch,” said Topper. “My graphics designer and I also worked at getting a good look and a company name.”

Aiming specifically for the trades, Topper began his company Tradeworx Products Inc. “By integrating ‘worx’ into both names, we think we came up with a winner.”

FUTURE FUNCTIONS

Most in business will agree that finding a great product is essential to starting a great business. They might also agree that continued growth is a fundamental key to business success. Topper is one of those businessmen.

“After six months of research and development, and customer driven innovation, we have found areas of our product that could be changed and improved,” he said. “The new product, which I call the ‘tool adapter,’ is going to be the breakthrough that is needed to make this system much more versatile.”

This adaptor, though not currently on the market yet, upgrades the Liftworx system allowing it to hoist 40 pounds, including a refrigerant container, vacuum pumps, recovery machines, etc. It also makes it possible for most items to be lifted in one hoist instead of multiple hoists.

“The technician can now put all tools, equipment, filter boxes, tool pouches, buckets, everything next to the building, hook them up faster than before, and then make one trip up with the rope,” said Topper. “When the job is complete, lower everything down at once.”

Right now, Topper is endeavoring to raise the capital required to get this new part of the system to the market. “I want to get the product into stores where the sales people will actually push the product,” he remarked. “I currently have about five local distributors who would like the product on their shelves, and I have also been in contact with other nationwide wholesalers and distributors.”

According to the company, the Liftworx system will have many other future applications in areas such as the building trades, military, and recreation arenas.

“But that will take up a lot of time in the near future,” noted Topper. “I guess those ideas will just have to sit on the shelf for now.”

For more information, visit www.tradeworxproducts.com.

Publication date: 06/25/2007

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