Grounded Pilot’s Ideas Take Flight
The Trajectory from High-Flying Concept to Physical Product
Customer Success Story: The Grooveit Brush “The Wet Club Scrub”
Recovery from the surgery would require roughly a year of downtime. It was going to be a drastic shift from the situations that Clint Sanderson was accustomed to on a daily basis. As an elite medical helicopter pilot, he is responsible for the rapid and safe transportation of patients when they are experiencing the most life-threatening emergencies. Fortunately for Sanderson, his double knee surgery was voluntary, but it would temporarily ground him from flying. A hard bargain for someone accustomed to the adrenaline rush and fulfillment found in piloting.
Determined not to waste recovery time in idleness, Sanderson chose to make the best of circumstances and tackle a problem that had frustrated him for years. Sanderson had been a golfer from a young age and knew the importance of maintaining clean grooves on the face of the club. Clean grooves mean longer and more accurate shots. However, he was never satisfied with the inelegant way that a club’s grooves were typically cleaned – with some spit-shine and a wire brush.
Sanderson knew there had to be a better way. His first step was to survey the current market to see if there were existing products that remedied the problem. He found other products that attempted to and noted their strengths and weaknesses. His eureka moment was recognizing the underlying challenge was to design a brush that stored and dispensed cleaning liquid without leaking inside of a golf bag, while simultaneously being easily accessible.
Early prototypes were piecemealed together using travel-sized aerosol containers and dish washing soap brushes. “I thought I could basically do this on my own,” said Sanderson. The approach temporarily worked, but Sanderson knew that he’d have to create a more professional prototype if he were to present it to potential buyers or investors. He considered taking a class to learn 3D modeling but realized the path would take too much time. He discovered ProImage 3D based on a referral from the instructor at the technical college.
After an initial consultation, progress began by creating the next prototype for what Sanderson decided to call Grooveit. In 2016 Sanderson presented the 3rd prototype of Grooveit at the PGA Merchandise Show where he received valuable constructive criticism. Grooveit placed 2nd at the event, which only made Sanderson more determined to improve the product. It was back to the drawing board.
Fortunately, with the rapid prototyping abilities that 3D printing allows, ProImage 3D was able to refine the design quickly and at a lower cost than traditional manufacturing. Prototype number four improved the design by making the container refillable by the end consumer – a common feedback point from the trade show. Sanderson showed the prototype to friends and fellow golfers both on and off the course. “I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s just watching closely”, said Sanderson. After observing how people interacted with the brush. He realized the next refinements were simple ergonomic improvements to the design.
By the time he was ready to create the 5th prototype, Sanderson and Rick Radford at ProImage 3D had found a perfect working rhythm. “Rick–he came in early and stayed late,” said Sanderson. “He would make a piece of a prototype and then we’d see how it’d work.” This latest prototype featured a thinner handle and set the brush’s head at a slight angle.
The final version was ready for mass production in 2017, but Sanderson encountered another setback. A small blood clot in his leg forced him to take 10 months off of work. He certainly had plenty to keep himself occupied, but the issue was financing this first round of production while he wasn’t employed. Unable to get a loan, he decided to sell a small plane that he owned. This plane not only funded the first round of production, but it also opened up a hangar that was soon to become a warehouse for him to store inventory.
“It took me three years and some change,” said Sanderson. “I came up with the idea, but without Rick and ProImage 3D it wouldn’t have happened.” When the first production run arrived, Sanderson shed tears of joy. And this isn’t the end of the runway for Grooveit. Sanderson recently auditioned for Shark Tank and is anxiously awaiting to hear if he makes it to the next phase. Regardless of whether he gets to pitch his product to the sharks, Sanderson already has his sites set on expanding the product line.
“I’ll be coming back to ProImage 3D, and we’re going to tackle the next one,” said Sanderson.
Sanderson acknowledges that the Grooveit Wet Club Scrub may not promote world peace or cure cancer, but that doesn’t make the tool insignificant. Piloting an emergency medical helicopter directly impacts the lives of those he’s transporting, and is his way of contributing to the greater good. Having one less problem to tackle on the green during his days off is a reward well-deserved.
The Grooveit golf club cleaner is currently available on their US, AU, and NZ websites and in-store at Golf USA.