When Washington's Mt. St. Helens blew its famous stack in 1980, thick, gray volcanic ash fell on homes throughout the Pacific Northwest--including Bruce Chisholm's. It fell on the roof. And it gathered in the gutters.
When Bruce tried to clean the ash out of his gutters he quickly discovered that there was no existing tool that would do so efficiently, whether you were trying to clean out ash--or just the usual glut of leaves. He needed a scoop that would fit into narrow gutters, avoid overhanging shingles, flare to fit the gutters' shape and be easy to use.
Using a sheet of flexible plastic and a wooden handle, Bruce constructed just such a tool. After a little more "R&D," the uniquely shaped scoop was working like a charm. Bruce did more product testing, trying out his invention on the gutters of friends and neighbors.
Then the entrepreneurial idea took hold. If Bruce and his friends and neighbors needed a way to make gutter cleaning faster and easier, then others would, too. Bruce gathered a group of friends and family who believed in the newly-named Gutter Getter®, worked out a stock deal with them and gained the funds he needed to make the custom mold tooling and patent the unique product.
The Gutter Getter® was to be molded of durable, but flexible polypropylene in a single piece. It was designed with an extended tongue that reaches under gutter supports as the scoop itself flexes to fit the gutter. A narrow heel makes it easy to pull the loaded scoop out of the gutter. A high handle position protects the user from scrapes. Soon the bright red-orange Gutter Getter® was ready for sale by Bruce's new company, Working Products, Inc.
Working Products' first break came when national catalogue retailer Norm Thompson placed an order--then reordered as the Gutter Getter® sold briskly. The second break came when the home center chain Pay-n-Pak ran a newspaper ad featuring the Gutter Getter®.
"They called us the next day and placed another order," says Working Products owner Bruce Chisholm. "Then they called us for the next four days in a row, placing new orders each time. It was exciting."
Today, the Gutter Getter® is carried by most of the major home centers in the US, including Mills Fleet Farm, and Ace hardware stores. The Gutter Getter® has even gone international, with sales in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, The UK, Finland, France, and Germany. The Gutter Getter® retails for about $5.99.
With over 6 million patented Gutter Getters® sold to date, the Gutter Getter® has obviously proven to be popular with customers. Chisholm also notes that customers have devised innovative uses for the Gutter Getter®--besides efficiently cleaning gutters. They're being used as pet food scoops, to spread rock salt and to clean up after pets. "One guy was even using it as a giant shoehorn," says Chisholm.
The latest addition to the Gutter Getter® line is the Gutter Grabber®. The Gutter Grabber® is a uniquely shaped tool that screws onto an extendable steel pole. It enables the homeowner to clean up to 18 ft. of gutter without moving the ladder. "Because of the adjustable pole, the Gutter Grabber® really cuts down on ladder movement," says Chisholm.
Working Products, Inc. is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It manufactures its line of products in Washougal, Washington. Independent sales representatives serve customers throughout the US.