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Business
Have dinged wooden yard posts? Janesville siblings' invention can help

JANESVILLE

Some residents might have already seen an invention that two Janesville siblings designed and produced, and they wouldn’t have had to look farther than their neighbor’s front lawn.

Soon, the product might pop up at a slew of home improvement and hardware stores.

Former IT professional Kane Carmody and his sister Jennifer Carmody say their family invented “Post Shields,” four-sided, 6-inch-tall plastic guards that slide and snap in place around the bases of mailboxes or deck or fence posts, and they are perhaps as simple as an invention can get.

Their function is even simpler: They’re designed to stop string weed trimmers, lawnmowers and other equipment from chewing up the bottoms of posts stuck in yards.

Post Shields were born just one year ago, but the product and the company are already poised to grow in a big way.

Kane Carmody said he and Jennifer developed Post Shields from a design their father, Scott, a Florida resident, developed using 3-D printer technology about two years ago.

The siblings, who worked for their father’s IT company, said they got the product patented and opened up shop this June in Olde Towne Mall in downtown Janesville, about six months after launching Post Shields from home in Janesville.

Almost immediately, they say, they landed a major order with Chicago-based Ace Hardware, whose hardware buyer saw their product at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas in May.

Ace bought a large order—11 pallets—of Post Shields, which Kane Carmody said are now being distributed to dozens of stores in the U.S. Before the Ace deal, Post Shields were sold through various internet-based sellers, the siblings said.

In 2018, lawn-and-garden machinery distributor MTD Products is working to make Post Shields available at other major chain retail stores and websites. Some of the retailers under that deal could include Blain’s Farm & Fleet, Mills Fleet Farm, Home Depot and Lowe’s, Kane Carmody said.

It means the square-shaped plastic guards which are shown on Post Shields’ website might soon become a household name. It’s an ascent that happened practically overnight.

The siblings have navigated the process of launching a product, working with a U.S.-based plastics extrusion company on production of their design, and then landing the Ace buy-in and MTD distribution deal all within a year—and all despite the fact neither had never made a corporate pitch before.

“We’re IT people. All we knew was that most people have mailbox and deck posts that get hit up by string weed trimmers,” Kane Carmody said. “This whole retail thing is new to us. So far, it seems to be working out.”

Jennifer Carmody said one home-improvement magazine began promoting Post Shields in product reviews before the company was even fully launched, and online orders took off fast. She said a local business incubator official told her and Kane they were farther along in their launch than they realized.

“It all was a huge confidence builder for two people who’d never run their own business,” she said.

Kane Carmody said the product’s simplicity—no nails, no caulk, no tools needed—is what delivers the forehead-smacking, “why-didn’t-I-think-of-this” factor.

“It shows you a problem you didn’t know you even had. Then, one second after you look at the product, the problem is already solved,” he said.

The Carmodys say the Post Shields retail for between $7.99 and $10.99—a price they said saves on people buying new posts or spending “thousands” of dollars lifting backyard decks to repair posts that are already damaged by run-ins with lawn and garden equipment.

Olde Towne Mall’s management helped the Carmodys quickly set up a workspace this summer that allows them to toggle between running the business offices from home and packing and fulfilling orders in a larger space.

There’s even a carpeted room for Kane Carmody’s young children, Sophia and Charlotte, to play, watch TV and even ride around in a pink Barbie car.

Carmody said he’s never field tested whether Post Shields can withstand a direct hit from a plastic Barbie car, but he likes his product’s chances.

“We could find out. We’ve got to put the kids to work sometime,” he said.


Crime
Janesville homicide suspects held on $50,000 bonds in Missouri

JANESVILLE

The two suspects in a Janesville stabbing homicide are being held in Missouri on $50,000 bonds pending extradition to Wisconsin.

Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary said it’s likely he will issue warrants Wednesday to begin the extradition process.

Julian D. Collazo, 21, and Nicole R. Kazar, 23, could waive extradition proceedings. If they did, they could be back in Rock County in a matter of days, officials said.

The process could be longer if they request extradition hearings.

Janesville police continued Tuesday to investigate the death of Christine H. Scaccia-Lubeck, 43, who lived alone at 426 S. River St. Her body was discovered in her home at 4:44 p.m. Saturday.

Police believe the stabbing happened many hours earlier. It appears the victim’s missing car was taken before Friday night’s light snowfall, they said.

The Chevrolet Trax was equipped with the OnStar motorist-assist service, which uses GPS technology and can track subscriber vehicles.

Police contacted OnStar, which located the car and notified police in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, said Lt. Terry Sheridan of the Janesville Police Department.

Cape Girardeau police took the pair into custody shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday at a gas station along Interstate 55, about 440 miles south of Janesville.

Sgt. Rick Schmidt of the Cape Girardeau police said the OnStar information is not pinpoint-accurate, but it was more than enough to locate the car.

Two officers approached the Trax at the gas station, which had towels hanging over the driver’s-side window, according to a probable-cause statement filed in Cape Girardeau County Court.

Schmidt said the officers likely approached with guns drawn because they knew of the Janesville murder investigation linked to the stolen car.

One officer approached the passenger side, saw Collazo in the passenger seat and Kazar driving, according to the statement.

“I commanded them to reveal their hands,” according to the statement, which quotes the officer.

“Kazar immediately placed the keys in the ignition and started the engine. I commanded them once again to shut the vehicle down and reveal their hands. Kazar then removed the keys, and both occupants placed their hands up.”

Schmidt said the arrest was made without incident.

The pair were taken to the police station, where police read them their rights. Kazar told them Collazo had stolen the vehicle in Wisconsin and picked her up later, the statement reads.

Janesville police have indicated a likely charge against Kazar will be aiding and abetting a felon, while Collazo is likely to be charged with first-degree intentional homicide.

Sheridan said Tuesday detectives had not yet discovered a motive for the crime but were working on theories.

Janesville detectives on Monday searched the car in Cape Girardeau and found bloody clothes and a knife. The knife appeared to be clean, but it will be tested, even though detectives doubt it was the weapon used in the homicide, Sheridan said.

“We think there are other knives missing from the house that actually could have been used,” Sheridan said.

Detectives also are searching two phones that appear to be Collazo’s, Sheridan said.

Collazo and Kazar were both held on Missouri charges of first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle, a felony.

In court Monday in Jackson, Missouri, Kazar and Collazo were declared indigent, so a public defender will represent them, online court documents indicate. Preliminary hearings for each were set for Jan. 3, but it was not immediately clear if they will first be extradited to face the Wisconsin charges.


171213_GLANCE

Local • 3A

Hearings set to resolve dispute

Allegations against the Janesville fire chief brought by a former employee could be resolved in hearings scheduled for February. The hearings could have some elements of a courtroom trial: Witnesses could be called and their testimonies would be heard to help the Janesville Police and Fire Commission and its retained attorney take action on three charges of misconduct in public office against Fire Chief Randy Banker.