Mother of invention: how I created Tadpole Tape Cutter
Lee G Mallahan III
9:53 a.m. CDT August 14, 2015
(Photo: Special to The Times)
If you have ever taken on a painting project around your home, you probably fit into one of two categories: pro or a weekend warrior.
There goes my weekends thinking that I’m a pro.
While attempting to paint one weekend, two front doors laying on saw horses in my garage and the temperature definitely in the undesirable range, I started questioning why I was doing this in the first place.
Each door had eight panes of glass times two, inside and out. I spent more than an hour just taping up one side of all the glass to keep paint from going where it wasn’t supposed to be.
I stopped for a short time and went to every home improvement store asking for a tool that would give me a straight cut on painters tape to help move my project along quicker. I got a similar answer everywhere I went. “Sorry, nothing like that exists.”
And I was only half way done.
When I got back home I grabbed a roll of blue tape, went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and made a “perfect cut” using the backside of the knife. It actually took me less than 15 minutes to finish the other side of the doors. I knew right then that a tool like this would save time and make any paint job so much easier.
I spent many late nights designing and putting together what is now the patented Tadpole Tape Cutter.
We wanted it to be small, lightweight, the color green and not a throw-away item. My two daughters helped in naming the tool, and they were so excited that we could design a product and possibly make an appearance on the TV series “Shark Tank.”
But any good idea is just that without taking the next step, so I started calling every manufacturer pertaining to the different materials needed in making this project a reality.
From starting the patent search to now having the Tadpole in stores, this project has been fun and challenging. We have purchased all tooling necessary to produce 26,000 Tadpole parts per day. We can also make 40,000 blades per day. This was done in order to fulfill any large big box stores wanting to take on our product. We can scale quickly to make 2 million pieces per year and double that number running a second line.
I would also like to mention the Louisiana Association for the Blind has taken on our project to assemble, package and ship to retail stores nationwide from right here in Shreveport. I have so much respect seeing firsthand the dedication and work these fine people do — very impressive.
Made in America was the only option I wanted from the start and made in Shreveport-Bossier topped it all off. Sure, I could have saved a lot of money and lowered the cost per part in going to China but that would not create one job here. Believe it or not, companies in America do want more business and I don’t have to wait 90 days to get the product or parts for production.
Going from sales all my life to the manufacturing world was somewhat like putting a 7 year old at Disney World without a parent. Fun but lost.
So with the great help of a local organization called Cohab and their Breaking Lean program, my company has received tons of business knowledge and confidence to take this product to the next level.
Now having the product in hand I visited hardware and paint stores here locally. I am very thankful that these businesses all said yes in allowing the Tadpole a great entrance into the market place. You can stop by and purchase the product at these locations:
So, the next time you are painting, shipping a package or moving, grab a Tadpole Tape Cutter and make life easier. The Tadpole transfers to another roll in less than five seconds to cut any tape on the planet. You can visit us at tadpoletapecutter.com to get more information
I want to thank my family, our partners, the manufacturers, the Shreveport Times and everyone else involved in helping to make the Tadpole a reality.
Lee G Mallahan III is a member of Cohab’s Breaking Lean and the creator of the Tadpole Tape Cutter. You can hear more about the Tadpole Tape Cutter and Mallahan’s journey at 1 Million Cups, Aug. 26 at 9 a.m. at Cohab.