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Jun-06-2013 13:01TweetFollow @OregonNews
galaxG ErgoMaster Pro Anti-Fatigue Paint Brush Handle Named 'Most Innovative New Product'Salem-News.com
Honors bestowed by North American Retail Hardware Association at 2013 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas
(PORTLAND, OR) - September 2008, the bubble bursts in the US housing and financial markets, leaving people and corporations on edge. Greg Freuler, President of galaxG tools, was then Director of Product Development for The ProActive Sports Group in Canby, Oregon, a wholesale distributor of golf accessories, awards and the Clicgear Push Cart.
The golf industry, largely based on discretionary income, was hit hard. Nobody in the industry was immune from the crisis. The owners of ProActive Sports did not want to lay employees off, so they instead chose to cut everyone to 32 hours to save money and jobs.
Freuler, whose major at the University of Oregon was Business, decided to make lemonade out of the lemons and put the 8 hours a week he no longer worked to good use. He enrolled in the Industrial Design School at the Art Institute of Portland, to provide a more rounded foundation for the position he held.
During his very first class at the school, students were assigned to redesign an everyday product. He had just been remodeling his house and had suffered from severe cramping and pain in his fingers while painting and found no comfortable paint brushes existed. This, he thought, was the perfect product to redesign.
The paint brush project was a hit and he felt he was really onto something. Between work, school and upkeep on this house he didn't have a lot of free time, but he continued to enhance the design every chance he could.
Flashback to 1992, Greg and Michiko Freuler were proud parents of Marika Jasmine Freuler, their only child. She seemed like to perfect little girl in every way. She had an infectious laugh and was the light of their lives.
When Marika was eight months old however, she began to lose focus and motor skills. After months of doctors speculating, testing and recommending surgeries and experimental treatments, she was finally diagnosed with Tay-Sachs, a rare congenital neurological disorder that is a form of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease. Marika passed away in 1996 at age 3-1/2.
This profound experience changed his perspective on life; how things that once seemed important, no longer felt that way. Most importantly, he learned that he had one life to live and he was going to enjoy it and not live with regrets.
After two long years of work on his paint brush concept, Freuler felt he had finally come up with perfect design. Its shape, mimicking the natural resting position of the hand, gave it unmatched comfort. It was counter-balanced and the entire weight was held on top of the hand, not in it. This completely relieved the fingers from holding the brush and now they were free to simply guided it.
He wanted to have his design tested by professionals and, as luck would have it, his sister's family was just having their new home finished and was going to be painted by well-respected painter Gary Christian of Gary Christian Painting. Christian had long suffered from Carpal Tunnel, so it was a great opportunity to test the product on someone who could benefit from it.
The test was a real success... well almost. It seemed that as much as Christian loved the handle, he was staunchly loyal to this paint brush brand and that story was echoed by every pro Freuler spoke with. It wasn't a "brush" he needed to design, it was a "handle" that could hold any paint brush brand and size.
The redesign from paint brush to paint brush-holding handle was not an easy one. It took almost as long as the initial brush design itself, but the results were worth it. At the 2013 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, the "galaxG ErgoMaster Pro" was awarded "Most Innovative New Product," out of the thousands of products at the show.
"As proud as I am of the award, I am really more proud to know that the product I designed is going to save hundreds of thousands of people from suffering while they paint. That's what really makes me feel good," said Freuler.
A serendipitous byproduct of the change from "brush" to "handle" was another revolutionary product, the A paint brush is balanced by the galaxG Counter-Gravity System paint brush counterweights. These counterweights press-fit together through the hole in the paint brush handle and balance the brush like never before, making any paint brush feel instantly lighter.
"The counterweights may turn out to be our highest volume item, because everyone using a paint brush will benefit from them, even if they aren't using one of the ErgoMaster handles.
"We have a full line of innovative products and they are slowly, and I mean slowly, working their way onto store shelves. It seems every retailer wants to be first to be second.
"Our very first retail partner was Salem Paint. Craig and Carol Morgan, the owners of Salem Paint have been really great to us and they took a chance when others wouldn't. We hope anyone in the area who want to see our products will go to Salem Paint and try them out."
It's hard to succeed in business on your own and Freuler credits others for helping get galaxG tools off the ground. "I've been very lucky to have a lot of support from family and friends along the way. One of my golf partners, Bob Reynolds is now Director of Operations for galaxG tools, after more than 20 years in operations with Columbia Sportswear.
"Bob, like myself, is wearing many hats and I don't know how I would have managed without him. We have differing skill sets that complement each other well and we both are committed to making galaxG tools a force in the industry."
The ErgoMaster Pro has a suggested retail price of $24.99 and the ErgoMaster DIY (do-it-yourself) will hit the market in September, with a suggested retail price of $9.99. The ErgoMaster handles are designed to last for years of use.
If readers are interested in finding out more about galaxG tools and their products, they can look them up on the web at http://www.galaxG.com. You can also find them on Facebook and YouTube at www.youtube.com/galaxgvids.
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