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.