"Dustin!!! (my friend was yelling through the phone) was that your product that almost killed that kid last night?!"
My heart raced as I quickly goggled the news story.
You see one of my first inventions here at GreatVacs (years ago) was a Infrared heater. True Infrared heaters (not the junk sold now) is a cool concept because it heats objects not air (in other words they heat people not air). My first invention was to build one of these and but we were the first to build a smart thermostat into it. So you could literally schedule when you wanted it to come on and turn off and what temperature you wanted it heated. For example you could set it turn on an hour before you got home from work. I used it warm my basement in our home. My kids loved hanging out in our basement at night but on school nights I had it set to turn off a hour before bed time so they would come upstairs (I know I am evil). It would heat over 800 sq ft for about $1 a day.
There was just one problem. I have values and kids. As I was designing it my kids were young and I kept thinking about them and NO MATTER WHAT I wanted it be safe and something I could be proud of. So I invented a heat dispenser that slowly dispersed the head on the grill so little kids fingers could not be burned. I put a sensor in it that if it was tipped over it would turn off. I put a backup sensor in it that if it got above a certain temperature it would turn off. If for some reason the fan stopped spinning but it continued to produce heat I put a sensor in it that would turn off. If your kids accidentally threw their clothes on top the heater and it blocked the intake air or where the hot air came out it would turn off. This thing was SAFE!
We released the product and we sold TONS of them (literally)! However our biggest complaint from customers was “this things turns off to easy” :) That’s OK I could live with that. Our sales were so good that the lead manufacture of Heaters in China contacted us. They provide and make heaters for almost all the brands in the big box stores. They told us they should make some heaters for our brand as well. He showed me our cost…$12. Can you believe that!! They were willing to make a electric heater and sell it to us for $12. This was the industry standard. Umm let me think about this for a second………NO! A $12 heater is not going to be safe and not something I was willing to put our name behind.
So things were going good on the new Heater I had invented and then competitors came in and copied us with 2 exceptions. 1 – The price was ½ of what our price was and 2- they had removed all the safety features we had. Our sales tanked and a few months later I even saw them in Costco. The rest of the industry followed them and I…gracefully bowed out.
Remember the story of the kid almost dying? As I pulled up the story on the local news I found it was one of our competitors who had removed the safety features. This infant’s parents had installed the heater in his room. During the night the thermostat failed and the heater did not turn off an ran all night. It was like being locked in a car on hot sunny day. The next morning when the parents went into his room he was barely breathing, looked terrible and was rushed to the emergency room in an ambulance.
As I read the story I did not realize I had been holding my breath. I sighed with relief and gratitude. We had quit making our heater 2 years previous and had never compromised our standards. At GreatVacs our standards are not for sale. We don’t sell a lot of products you might find at Walmart or Costco and our products we sell might not be the cheapest out there. What you will find is products that we believe in and we feel will make a difference in your and your families lives.