Important inventions by Gene Luoma
Who: Gene Luoma, 61
Where: Duluth, Minn.
DX: Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, 20-plus years
What: Invents products that he sells to various companies through his business, Luoma Enterprises. Has invented and patented eight products. Latest and most successful product is Zip-It, a long, thin piece of flexible plastic with barbs on either edge used to unclog drains. Available at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Wal-Mart, Menards, Walgreen’s and other stores in the United States, Canada, and Central and South America. Price range: $1.99-$2.99.
He also owns Design ProInc., a business that designs and builds steel forms for the precast concrete industry.
How: Born and raised on a farm in Floodwood, Minn., where he had to make the devices and equipment his family used on a daily basis. Had always looked for simple solutions to common problems. Found a broken plastic sled in his garage and used a jagged piece to unclog his drain, which gave him the idea for Zip-It.
Gene says: "Since I’ve had the Zip-It, I’ve had a number of people come to me with ideas and wanting me to give them suggestions on how they can get their product marketed. It’s something that I don’t do as a business; I just do it, basically, to help."