Simon Farms Marketing LLC
Innovation: Downspout Goalpost
Necessity is often the mother of invention. That’s how Tom Simon came up with his company’s product, the Downspout Goalpost.
About three years ago, he was having trouble with moisture seeping into his basement, so he got a 10-foot extension for his drainpipe and put a brick underneath it to add some slope. But then a storm blew through, and the wind knocked his extension off, preventing the water from being funneled away from the house.
“I wanted to solve my situation, I wanted to keep water away from the house, and I went to the big box stores and couldn’t find anything,” Simon said.
That’s how Simon, owner of Simon Farms Marketing LLC, invented the Downspout Goalpost. It’s a white plastic stake topped with a four-inch wide base and two vertical arms that looks like the goalpost used in football. The stake is inserted into the ground, and the downspout or downspout extension sits between the vertical arms, keeping it firmly in place whatever the weather.
The Downspout Goalpost can be adjusted in height to slope the downspout gradually away from the house, keeping moisture from seeping into a foundation or basement and helping to alleviate clogging. The elevation also allows grass to grow beneath the downspout.
“It elevates, it keeps it moving, it keeps it from getting pushed side to side,” Simon said.
He went to Nitschke Mold & Manufacturing in Menomonee Falls to have his idea made into a mold for production. Simon Farms Marketing has contracted with Pereles Bros. Inc. in Milwaukee to manufacture the Downspout Goalpost. And it’s packaged at Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin in West Allis.
In its first year of production, 2012, Simon Farms made 1,000 pieces. And last year, it produced another 2,500. This year, the company has manufactured 5,000 more products.
Simon has been traveling to True Value and Ace hardware stores across the Midwest to get the products into stores, where he encourages franchisees to place them in the impulse buy section near the register instead of near the downspouts. He also offers to greet customers to explain what the product does.
“The consumer will probably buy them from March to about October,” Simon said. “I have greeted people at 24 stores because I don’t want the piece to just gather dust.”
After 18 months, he managed to get the Downspout Goalpost into the True Value warehouse, from which any True Value store can order it.
The Downspout Goalpost retails for $5.99. It is available at 63 True Value stores and 55 Ace Hardware stores in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. He hosts sales contests among the stores and hosts a pizza party for the highest seller.
“What I’m pleased about is that I’m adding more stores, but the stores that I have are selling them,” Simon said. “What I’m trying to do is add more stores and help each store increase its sales with the piece. I’m trying to have fun getting the stores to promote it and sell it and help them make money doing it.”
Simon, who has a background in promotional marketing, started Simon Farms in 2008. The company also puts logos on promotional products, like pens, caps and calendars.
“Anything that helps a company try and get its name out in the marketplace,” he said.