Selling up and jumping straight into the deep end to launch your own product might sound like a dream to some, but that’s exactly what one young Kiwi bloke did when he came up with his own version of an improved D shackle.
Sam Brown, a mechanic by trade who owned his own earthworks business, decided to bite the bullet and launch the Snap-D shackle – a half turn, springload D shackle. Sam says the idea for the new shackle came to him about five years ago when he was sitting in a tractor for hay season in South Australia. With a lot of time to ponder, he thought, ‘there had to be a better way’.
“The fundamental idea was that conventional D shackles are slow, the pin falls out and gets lost. They also over tighten. The Snap-D design fixes all of this,” he explains.
Made from 316 stainless steel, it can be used for a variety of applications – anything you use a conventional D shackle for, Snap-D can do it, Sam says.
“From floats to boats, the weekender camper to a motocross trailer – any trailer application.
“The whole idea is so simple you’d think, why doesn’t this already exist? So I got home and made one in my shed, and then it sat in the drawer for about five years.”
Launching the shackle took a lot of guts on Sam’s part, but he decided to back himself and the product.
“I went all in, sold the house, the machinery, all that. It was really scary, it was such a big move but I really believed in the product.”
Come 2019, Sam flew to China to find a manufacturer, got it patented, and had the packaging and CAD drawings all done properly here in New Zealand.
“Grant from Udy Engineering in Hamilton really came through on this. His CAD drawings and 3D printing were what took this concept and idea from being a product in my head and a handmade version from the shed at home into a real-life production item,” he says.
Sam has had about 1500 of the shackles made so far and is putting in a further 8000 orders.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to is really keen on it and have asked me to send them some product,” Sam says.
He adds that the patenting process was initially quite daunting, but he enjoyed learning a whole new skill.
“It was like doing an apprenticeship. Having to learn how to do a patent, all the ins and outs, making sure you were talking to the right people. But I got some really useful advice, a lot of help with how to go about the whole process.”
The Snap-D is currently stocked in a variety of stores across the country, including Boyd Motorcycles in Te Rapa, Bite Time Bait in Whatawhata, Peter Glidden Honda in Huntly, Northend Ag Centre in Hopuhopu, and Prescott Motors at the Pauanui turn off.
“I want to get it in the big stores here in New Zealand, like Mitre 10 and Bunnings, so everyone has access to it, and then I’m looking to get into Australia, the US, Canada. Go international,” he says.
Sam says he’s got another idea in the works, with CAD drawings and 3D printing underway.
“Can’t quite let you guys know what that is just yet, but watch this space.”
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