IN THE BEGINNING…………….OF OUR 28TH YEAR !!!!

 

Lawn Dottm brand vegetation barriers are the creation of People Devices, Inc.’s President and Founder, Larry Collins.

Larry started People Devices (dba) as a Michigan S-Corporation in 1988, a sideline activity to his career as an Automation Designer, Project Manager and Manufacturing Engineer in the automobile business.

Over the course of 7 years, Collins had landscaped his entire 3-acre estate on the outskirts of Owosso, to include several yard features, like specimen trees, and fixtures like clothesline posts, swing-set legs, yard light posts, the mailbox post, a bird bath, a gazing ball pedestal, a utility pole and its guy wire anchor (when does it end?), which in turn required much lawn maintenance to trim after mowing. And they HAD to be trimmed for the yard to look nice.

After a lengthy, unsuccessful search for low maintenance and low cost remedies, he decided that since none seemed to exist, he would have to create them himself. A bold and costly effort to be sure, but if they worked, perhaps the rest of the world could make good use of them, too. After all, mowing is nuisance enough, but trimming is REALLY a pain. And TRIMMING MUST BE DONE CAREFULLY enough to avoid damaging all those features or missing some growth so the lawn doesn’t look nice.

In 1989, the first product in a line of trimming products was retailed to the public through the Meijer chain of discount variety stores / supermarkets. It was called Building Bibtm , and as a simple linear vegetation barrier (the most easily manufactured of the product line), offered trimming relief around the linear bases of buildings and other landscape structures. That product, available at retail for only one year, can be seen on the Corporate website; www.peopledevices.com . Plans are to re-introduce that product after successful launch of its companion product; Lawn Dot circular vegetation barriers, presented on this website.

To date, People Devices has remained a one-man operation. Its intent is to develop and license products and intellectual property to established companies that wish to augment their product lines. That strategy hasn’t been very fruitful, as other companies tend to desire more than pictures and words before investing in a new product. As a result, which can be seen on the mentioned corporate website, more than pictures and words have been generated by the one-man Corporation.

Lawn Dots, originally named Bush Bib to complement the Building Bib name, proved more difficult to economically manufacture. The design called for more than a full circle and a varying cross-section to satisfy performance requirements in the field. Techniques of sheet extrusion and section-piece molding were discarded as economically and/or functionally impractical. Collins realized the solution to be an innovative form of plastic profile extrusion, and to stake his claim to the notion, mailed conceptual sketches of the necessary and unique extrusion equipment to his Patent Attorney in early 1990. But even after showing experienced plastic extrusion firms the basic equipment sketches, none felt comfortable enough to explore or promote the project. Progress was stalled.

Over the next few years virtually all plastic sheet extruders, profile extruders and a couple of injection molders throughout the entire Great Lakes region were consulted about production using the unfamiliar concept. None were bold and innovative enough to tackle the project, until finally, one, Gemini Plastics in Ubly, MI, agreed to initial experiments using the concept. They constructed the first piece of the unique equipment – a simple but strangely configured die. Though not perfect, Collins saw it was an obvious success on its first try. But, doubting market success, Gemini declined further equipment fabrication needed for production. Again, progress stalled.

A couple years after seeing the die concept work satisfactorily, and armed with the rough plastic prototypes produced at Gemini Plastics, he approached the then large, automotive-based profile extrusion house of Nicholas Plastics in Allendale, MI. Given the status of the automotive business at that time, Nicholas was more agreeable to the prospect of diversity and experimentation. For a very reasonable price, they produced the necessary concepted equipment. Shazzam ! The first day of prototyping produced parts worthy of display at the 2007 GIE/Expo, a joint landscape and power equipment industry trade show in Louisville, KY. The concept had been proven! Finally: progress.

Yet, alas, the business climate for Nicholas proved too overwhelming, and within 6 months of the first prototype run, they shuttered their impressive campus facility, eliminating the lone hope of Lawn Dot production. Fortunately, a local relative of Larry’s saw the news report of the closing and informed Larry, who immediately called his contact at the plant to verify the report. The plant contact confirmed the report and made arrangements allowing Larry next-day pick up of his unique equipment and raw materials that were funded by People Devices, before the bank could inventory them for liquidation. Progress, again, became stalled.

Collins’ Lawn Dot project languished, with Larry biding his time with sporadic residential construction projects. But anxious to spur some kind of progress on his pet project, once again began seeking willing partners to make his Lawn Dots. Without luck in his search, and with a degree of frustrated desperation in this shortcoming, he made the decision; he’d have to do it himself.

So, reasonably confident of his concept and slightly experienced by watching and working with others, Larry acquired a plastic extruding machine. Using his career’s broad background knowledge of manufacturing and the limited but specific experience he attained from prototyping with others, he became a novice plastic profile extruder – with a twist. He would now be an industry expert in circular plastic profile extrusion techniques. Today’s Lawn Dot market introduction is the proof of that expertise.

Lawn Dots are the quickest, easiest, longest lasting and most reliable available remedy for the repeated work, damage, required storage space and continuous costs of string trimming or chemical spraying around lawn mowing obstacles. So we say: “Lawn spots? Lawn Dots. DONE !SM