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Climbing the startup ladder

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Articles - July/August 2012
Monday, July 09, 2012

 

BY JON BELL

0712 GamePlan LadderTite 01
Ladder-Tite is a pair of brackets that attach to extension ladders securing them to gutters.
// Photo by Sierra Breshears

Ron Gandy and his son, Justin, were well into the development of their ladder-safety device, Ladder-Tite, in 2011 when Justin unexpectedly passed away at age 21. The loss nearly derailed the entire endeavor.

“It really took all the wind out of my sails,” says Gandy, a retired air traffic controller who restarted a roofing business in 2008 as a summer gig for his son. “It was extremely hard to get going again.”

After a few months, however, Gandy and his wife, Carrie, decided that to continue on would honor their son. They refocused, won $7,500 in mentoring, office space and startup cash at the Southern Oregon Angel Investment Conference in April and are now forging ahead as Rogue Valley Innovations in Grants Pass.

Their first product, Ladder-Tite, is a pair of simple aluminum brackets that attach to extension ladders and secure them to gutters or fascia boards. Gandy says the idea arose when the state required a ladder-safety program for the roofing company.

“We thought, OK, let’s do something really right,” he says.

A little research found few other devices as simple and as inexpensive as what Gandy had in mind. A little more revealed that tens of thousands of people are injured every year in ladder accidents; close to 164,000 emergency room injuries every year are related to ladders, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“There’s really a call for this kind of product,” Gandy says.

So far RVI has produced 1,000 Ladder-Tites, which are available online or at stores near Grants Pass for $29.95. Even though Gandy could have the device produced cheaper in China, he chose to keep the work closer to home. A nearby shop bends the metal, and Gandy and his wife assemble and package the units.

Although he’s not looking to expand too rapidly, Gandy says he is developing new regional markets. He’s approached Home Depot, and a national roofing company has approached RVI to develop a similar device for commercial and industrial buildings.

“We’re not looking for investors right now,” Gandy says, “but maybe down the road.”

 

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