Turning Innovation Into Enterprise

Success Stories

In One Project, RCBI Moves One Entrepreneur Forward and Creates Opportunity for an Established Manufacturer

December 27, 2017

Dr. Greg Crews has been a horse owner for more than 15 years. Some of his worst frustrations were created by feed buckets that wouldn’t stay attached to fences and stables. Horses constantly pulling feed buckets from a fence or stable wall presents a messy nuisance and eventually damages the bucket beyond repair. Also, a feed bucket on the ground or a stall’s floor can create a dangerous situation for an owner who attempts to retrieve the bucket from their horse’s space.

The LOCK-N-LOADTM Feed System was developed by Dr. Greg Crews with technical assistance from ScaleUp West Virginia sub-awardee Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing.

Dr. Crews knew he wasn’t alone in his feed bucket frustrations. So, he set out to design a more stable and durable solution. With EDA’s and the State of West Virginia’s help through ScaleUp West Virginia, it would happen.

Dr. Crews knew he would need help to move his idea forward. Knowing about the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing’s (RCBI) product design and prototyping services, he approached RCBI’s staff for help in perfecting his own initial design. RCBI also helped him identify the best materials to use for his product.

The LOCK-N-LOADTM Feed System is manufactured from high density polyethylene, making it an extremely durable bucket that resists cracking and warping. It also can withstand both extreme heat and extreme cold conditions. The system’s unique LOCK-N-LOADTM attaching mechanism can be attached by to any type of fencing by hand.

With RCBI’s technical assistance made possible through ScaleUp West Virginia, Dr. Crews had designed a solution to a nagging and expensive problem that is common among horse owners. The next question was, Is there a manufacturer that could produce a high-density polyethylene bucket in the quantities and intervals that a young company would need?

RCBI introduced Dr. Crews to PTI, Inc., a compression and injection molding manufacturer in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. After Dr. Crews learned about PTI’s capabilities, a match between a local entrepreneur and an established, local manufacturer was made.

Rod Roush, plant manager at PTI, Inc., in Pt Pleasant holds a sample of the LOCK-N-LOADTM Feed System product that his facility manufactures for a young West Virginia company that benefited from ScaleUp West Virginia.

PTI has a long history of manufacturing a variety of molded products using thermoset and thermoplastic compounds. Their customers are located across the country and contract with PTI to manufacture products that range from electrical boxes to Christmas tree stands. The opportunity to work with a young West Virginia-based company was welcomed by Rod Roush, PTI’s plant manager. Mr. Roush says he can attribute at least one full-time position to his company’s work to produce the LOCK-N-LOADTM Feed System.

Dr. Crews sells his LOCK-N-LOADTM feed bucket through his company’s web site and a growing number of relationships with retail outlets.

The LOCK-N-LOADTM Feed System project is an excellent example of how EDA’s and the State of West Virginia’s investment in ScaleUp West Virginia were leveraged to move an entrepreneur’s idea forward and create an add-on opportunity for an existing manufacturer.

 

**Note:  TechConnect’s partners on the ScaleUp West Virginia program include the Robert C. Byrd Institute, the Center for Applied Research & Technology, the Chemical Alliance Zone, INNOVA and the WV Manufacturing Extension Partnership.