Custom molders often get ideas for new consumer products but few of them ever get their products to store shelves. After all, manufacturing, distributing and selling a proprietary product is a whole new ball game as opposed to making custom parts for an OEM. In 1996, Steve Goltare founded Westar Plastics in Bryan, OH, to mold primarily automotive parts.
Being an inventive type of person, Goltare told PlasticsToday that he'd been thinking about this product for about six years before he made it a reality. "This is the first time I've ventured into the consumer business, but the Pool Netr is about three months old now," he said.
Steve and his wife, Kerri, have had a pool for about 10 years, and they have purchased a lot of pool stuff that they consider is poor quality. "A lot of products you get are oftentimes made in China and made of somewhat inferior plastic," he said. "Pool skimmers tend to break or the nylon netting wears out and gets holes after a few months, so we were always replacing the skimmer. I got frustrated at having to replace the pool net. I thought there has to be a better way. I'm in the plastics business. I know plastics and molding, so why can't I come up with a better pool skimmer?"
Goltare said the Pool Netr is stronger and lasts longer because the plastic rim is molded in one piece. The skimmer screen is either aluminum or stainless steel, and is hand loaded into the single cavity mold, which runs in the company's 300-ton press.
Coming up with a proprietary product was challenging - and much different than molding parts for an OEM. Goltar started with a 3-inch long prototype. After the mold was completed in mid-July this past summer, they found about 25 people throughout the U.S., Canada and even Australia who would actually test the new product and tell them how they liked it.
The testers were impressed with the product, but Goltare had always been a business-to-business supplier, never business-to-consumer. So he hired Sean Cowen, who has a background in marketing, to help with the marketing of the product. Cowen also came up with the packaging for the Pool Netr, including the hanging tags.
"It's been exciting," Cowen said. "We're going to our first trade show, the International Pool Spa Patio Expo, to show the world what we do." The company's new product will also be featured in next month's issue of Aqua: The Business Magazine for Spa & Pool Professionals, and in Outdoor Living Magazine.
Currently, Westar Plastics operates eight presses ranging from 75-300 tons, including one 125-ton vertical press.