The common ladder is an awkward piece of equipment to deal with. Its length, weight and unpredictability make it hard to believe that there hasn't been an innovational overhaul of it in the past 5,000 years. Noticing this issue, partners Fred Feik and Bruce Clark set out to address the problems with ladders by creating American Innovations Corporation in 2000.
In the April issue of Qualified Remodeler , we brought you the Ladder Walk-Through Railing System from American Innovations Corp. Designed to address the dangers of walking around the top of a ladder, the aluminum system attaches over the tops of each side beam on most extension ladders, allowing a person to walk through their ladder onto or off a rooftop. This was but one way that Feik and Clark have approached the ladder.
Feik has been the owner of Feik Auto Body for over 20 years, but has always had an eye for the creative and thinking “outside the box” with his unique “FreddyVision” as he calls it. His associate Clark has had a handful of start-ups and launched cup holders to movie theaters and sports stadiums around the world. Their innovative ideas began in 1999 when Feik needed a ladder and became aware of all of its problems.
Their first innovations were a number of dolly systems for ladders. These systems reduced the carrying weight up to 90 percent, but they found that most workers thought using this system was too “girlie” and still preferred carrying it on their shoulders. After some initial lackluster sales, and praise from owners of the Ladder Dolly, American Innovations moved onto other ladder inventions.
The No. 1 cause of ladders overturning or moving is the dangerous transistion at the top of a ladder according to a 1991 National Safety Council study. This statistic, and a phone call from a safety trainer looking for a ladder with rails, is what drove Feik and Clark to invent the Ladder Walk-Through Railing System.
The Ladder Walk-Through Railing System addresses OSHA's 36-in. extension rule for portable ladders by going beyond the 36 in. It attaches to most any extension ladder permanently or temporarily without the use of tools and weights only 12 lbs. It can be used on hollow-rung or solid-rail extension ladders and is made with a combination of aluminum, steel and plastic parts.
“People kept telling us how we have answered the problem of carrying a ladder,” says Clark. “We continually heard, ‘Now make it easier to lift into position.' That is when ‘FreddyVision' once again came into play and born into existence was the Ladder Lift.”
The Ladder Lift, a third invention by American Innovations, uses gas springs similar to those used in car hoods and reduces the lifting weight by 90 percent. This allows one person to easily lift a 40-ft. ladder into position. American Innovations is working on making the Ladder Lift more universal for most ladders and work spaces and plans to release this version at a future date.
All of American Innovations' products can be purchased through its Web site. Visit www.ladderinnovations.com for more information.