Tech Turns A Problem Into A Company

June 23, 2005
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The Ductcap temporary end cap.
MINNEAPOLIS - Steve Vossen saw a problem and developed a solution that turned into a business.

The HVAC employee began noticing that more mechanical engineers were specifying that any unfinished ends of ductwork must be covered, whether for the night or until the run can be completed.

"I often found myself on a ladder taping ends and thought it could be done a faster way without such waste," Steve Vossen said.

Vossen invented Ductcap, a temporary end cap. A Ductcap is a poly bag with elastic sewn in the open end. Its purpose is to keep ductwork clean during shipping and construction.

It is made from durable poly and available in six sizes. According to Vossen, it covers any shape ductwork in various sizes, from 6 inches round to 38 inches round or any rectangular duct less than 120 linear inches. To use Ductcap, you simply expand the elastic end around the piece to be covered and slide it on. This is much faster than taping the ends closed with duct tape and plastic sheeting, said Vossen. You can remove Ductcap just as easily, and the product is reusable, thus saving the contractor material and labor.

"The hardest thing was to find someone to sew elastic to plastic," Vossen said.

Spreading The Word

After inventing the product, Vossen began to show samples to mechanical contractors in the Minneapolis area while seasonally laid off during the winter of 2003.

"Thankfully, most liked them and referred me to their suppliers," Vossen said. "I found that trying to sell a distributor a product that no one has asked for, or heard of, was impossible. With a contractor in my back pocket, it was much easier to get a distributor to see the value of adding Ductcap to their line."

In two years, Vossen's company has sold more than 200,000 pieces, with the help of 30 companies in nearly 100 locations.

"We believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg," Vossen said.

Applying the reusable Ductcap is faster than taping the ends closed with duct tape and plastic sheeting as shown here, and it also eliminates waste.
He indicates that contractors simply have to pick the corresponding Ductcap for the size pipe to be covered, then expand the elastic and slide it on. The insulator can slide Ductcap off, insulate the pipe, and expand the Ductcap to fit over the insulated pipe. When it is no longer needed at that jobsite, the contractor can slide Ductcap off, shake it clean, and put in a box for future use before making the final connection.

"With indoor air quality issues so important, mechanical engineers will soon be specifying that all unfinished ends on all jobs be covered," Vossen said.

"These specs contractors will be looking to not only save on labor, but material as well. That's when a reusable Ductcap will shine. The commercial contractors that see them love them."

For more information, visit www.ductcap.com.

The Inventors Series features products that have been developed by contractors who saw a need in the HVAC market for a better mousetrap. If you know someone who has a product that others would like to hear about, please contact kylegargaro@achrnews.com.

Publication date: 06/27/2005

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