Local Business

Get a Grip

Locally-invented garden tool provides leverage for green thumbs.

Currently the blade is strong alloy steel and the Y-handle is pure plastic, which is much more comfortable for the user. But, it isn’t just comfort that makes this tool special—the versatile trowel can be used for weeding, digging, cultivating and transplanting using one or two handed grips.

For example, use it with downward pressure, combined with a twisting back and forth motion, and it is efficient at breaking up and cultivating the soil. Use it with downward pressure with a twist to lift and loosen weed roots, enabling you to lift the root out, intact. Or try it with downward pressure with the tool tilted back slightly, then rotating it 360 degrees to carve a well perfectly suited for planting bulbs and transplanting seedlings. This variety of uses and hand positions allows a user to change position frequently, reducing repetitive strain of the hand and wrist.

Locally the Y-Grip tool—available in blue or red—can be found at Art Knapp Plantland, Anderton Nursery and elsewhere, and also up and down Vancouver Island from Campbell River to Nanaimo, Duncan and Victoria.

The most difficult market to break into, Carr says, and one he is hoping to crack this spring, is the extensive and lucrative Lower Mainland market.

“The problem there,” he says, “is that the larger garden centres, like Art Knapp’s, have their own suppliers. In the Valley, Knapp’s buys independently so that is why the Y-Grip is there. Consequently, I’m going to have to look at some of the independents on the Mainland. It seems ironic that you can get the Y-Grip in Calgary or Regina, but can’t get it in Vancouver. Our next challenge is to get it marketed on the Lower Mainland.”

A recent development has offered further encouragement to Carr that indicates he just might be on the right track with the Y-Grip.

A group of four North Island College students have taken on his development of the product as a marketing project. They’ll be making a presentation on their findings in April and Carr finds this encouraging indeed. “It indicates to me that I must be on the right track with this,” he says.

With the product Carr brings another area of expertise into play. He is a registered massage therapist (as is wife, Bonnie) and he finds that the Y-Grip draws on many elements of who he is, with massage, mechanics, gardening and cycling. It all works.

One of the selling points of the Y-Grip, in that regard, is that it’s ergonomic and especially helpful to those with wrist and hand issues. But, its appeal is virtually universal because it removes so much drudgery from what can be a tiring and challenging chore. For example, he notes that kids love it because they often don’t have the sort of strength that regular trowelling calls for.

“We have to show people how it works,” he says. That’s where our website comes in, because it shows the procedure.” Check out the Y-Grip web site for further information.

Carr says he has received no end of local help, and that has made his chosen task easier. “There are some really good local people,” he says. “This is wonderful because with something like this, you really can’t do it on your own. We’re now in our second season, and our patent is pending. Hopefully we’re over the hump.”

Aside from the local people who have helped, Carr says he absolutely couldn’t have gotten this far without the unwavering help of Bonnie. “My wife is fully on board with this, and she’s as passionate and committed about it as I am, and that has made all the difference in the world.”

Ultimately, Carr says he would like to see the tool manufactured in Canada rather than overseas, but at this juncture ‘home-grown’ is simply too expensive and would drive the price up considerably for a tool that retails for around $13. Consequently, India, with inexpensive labor costs, is where the tool is manufactured, but that reality still galls the inventor somewhat.

“I want it manufactured here and marketed here and since I have heard that the federal government wants to stimulate Canadian manufacturing rather than sending people offshore, there is hope that local manufacture might come to pass.”

Now, as the season segues into spring and people want to get out into their gardens, Carr hopes that the tool will find some appreciative customers. Meanwhile, for the Carrs, some marketing jaunts are going to be necessary. Firstly he wants to try to secure that Lower Mainland market and then to move into other realms. In that context he notes they have been invited to the International Rose Show in Portland, Oregon.

“It’s our second season,” he says. “So now we can find out if the product is really going to move.”

One Response to Get a Grip

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