Local invention hits store shelves nationwide - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Local invention hits store shelves nationwide

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If you walk into a Lowe's right now, you can buy a power tool called The Restorer, sold under the Porter-Cable brand. What you probably don't know, is that tool was invented right here in the Valley.

The Kundel family is built on innovation and Robert junior's no different.

"I like to take stuff apart, most of the time I can fix it," said Kundel, Jr.

So naturally, when he had to remove rust from pipes and beams at his company's plant in Vienna he came up with his own solution.

"The actual tool I made looks like a Frankenstein tool," said Kundel, Jr. "I bought an angle grinder really cheap, took the head of it off, ripped it off. We made a frame. A guy I work with here, Rich Schley, he helped me build a frame. It has an exhaust out the back like a motorcycle."

That was seven years ago. At the time, that's as far as his experiment went, until he took it home and tried it out on his patio.

"In seconds, it stripped the wood down to brand new. I thought, hmm, maybe I have potential with this tool," said Kundel, Jr.

The advantages were clear; it doesn't chew up the material you're working on and doesn't gum up the sandpaper like a traditional belt sander. All he had to do was make it a little more user-friendly.

"I saw this in my mind from the very beginning," said Kundel. Jr. "This is what I wanted to get it to. Everybody saw my original prototype and they couldn't get past that. But for me, I envisioned this tool as the final product."

Of course, once he had the design down he still had to bring it to market. That was a process all its own.

Eventually, he worked out a reverse brand license with Stanley/Black and Decker to sell it under the Porter Cable brand, which is what you see on the shelves at Lowe's.

"You align yourself with good manufacturing and a good quality brand, and you're able to bring it to market and be more successful. Versus, if I would have just had the tool under my name and my brand, it probably wouldn't have been accepted at Lowe's or other different retailers," said Kundel.

Now, he's in more than 1,600 stores nationwide with plans for more types of rollers in the future as part of an ever-evolving system. It all started in a back room at his crane plant.

"In this business with manufacturing, you're always trying to help the customer find a solution. So we do it every day with our current products. This was something that had a life of its own," said Kundel, Jr.

One idea that's turned into a problem-solving power tool just in time for the holidays.

The Restorer officially hit the shelves earlier this month. It's selling for $99 at every Lowe's location in the area.

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