Chimney Cleaner "Sweeps" the BIG Competition, Wins $12,000 in Cash and Services
DuBois – Winners of the 2010 BIG* (Business Ideas Gone Wild) Competition were announced at an awards ceremony Tuesday at the DuBois Country Club. An idea for a new and innovative chimney sweeping tool took the top prize in the contest, jointly organized by the Tri-County Keystone Innovation Zone, the Office for Technology Transfer at Penn State DuBois, and the Greater DuBois Chamber of Commerce. The competition is designed to spur regional economic development through support of local entrepreneurship and creative business ideas.
Jason Gabler, of St. Marys, claimed first place for his invention of the From the Ground Chimney Cleaner. Gabler's device allows the complete cleaning of a household flue to be done on the ground, from the bottom, up, rather than requiring someone to clean the flue from the roof. He will receive $12,000 in services and cash to help develop the product and cover the costs of engineering, design, marketing, and other expenses.
"I can't believe I'm up here in front of you because I'm afraid of heights." Gabler quipped as he accepted his first place honors at the podium. "I came up with this because I didn't like cleaning my chimney on an icy roof when it's 10 degrees outside."
Second place went to Clearfield resident Robert Fedak for his Lazerback light system design. His unique idea for a lighting system to fit to the rear of tractor trailers would greatly improve the visibility drivers have while backing up, especially into loading docks. Fedak will receive $6,000 in services and cash to help develop his idea.
Two honorable mentions were assigned. One went to Mark Bryan, of DuBois, for his Go Green Insulated Siding. The Styrofoam based product adds significant insulation to homes, lowering heating bills, and can be produced to replicate the look of log homes.
The other honorable mention was awarded to Dave Lowe, of Wilcox, for his method of producing skins, or the outside finish for electric guitars and electric bass. Bryan and Lowe will each receive $500 for the development of their ideas.
The featured speaker for the awards ceremony was Robert Macy, the director of the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Penn State, University Park. Macy has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years, and realized success in starting his own businesses in video game development, selling his first company to America On Line in 1997. He also completed law school and has helped to guide other young entrepreneurs to success in business in his role as an attorney.
"I believe entrepreneurs are the people who will save the world, providing the innovation we need," Macy said, explaining the changing ways business is done in the modern world. He also offered advice for people who want to try something new, or take a risk, but are still afraid to.
"We need to encourage people to try. We need to celebrate failure. You learn from failures. When there's failure, you know what you did wrong," said Macy. "It's a matter of perspective. You need to see that nothing out there is a problem; it's just a new opportunity.
The BIG* Competition is open to individuals, teams or small businesses in Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean or Potter counties. The prizes include not only cash but also market research support through the Ben Franklin Transformation Group, brand identity through Vision Creative Group, engineering services through the Penn State DuBois Innovation Lab, new product development services through the Northwest Industrial Resource Center, and much more. Organizers say the competition is a way to provide support needed by local entrepreneurs to be successful in the marketplace. For more information, visit www.thebigcompetition.ncentral.com
In the photo:
Front, L-R: Jeff Marshall Sr., Honorable Mention for Go Green; Mark Bryan, Honorable Mention for Go Green, Heather Kogo, Honorable Mention for Go Green; Jason Gabler, First Place; Robert Fedak, Second Place; Dave Lowe, Honorable Mention.
Back, L-R: Eric Bridges, North Central Executive Director; Chancellor Anita McDonald, Penn State DuBois; Robert Macy, Featured Speaker, Deborah Pontzer, Congressman Glenn Thompson’s Office; John Weible, North Central/Tri-County Keystone Innovation Zone, Sally Moran, Penn State DuBois.