In 1994, a small company in Iowa called P.S. Manufacturing received the Farm Industry News Readers’ Choice award (now called FinOvation awards) for a product called the Attractor. It’s a long-handled magnetic retrieval tool used to pick up metal objects such as nails, screws, pins, wires, wrenches and other items. The product, which resembles a golf club, consists of a 41-inch wooden handle with a high-powered magnet attached to the end.
The inventor, John Hambleton, got the idea for the tool when he was working on his farmhouse. “Our house at the time was quite old and in need of repair,” says John’s son, Todd, who now runs the company after his father passed away in 2010. “Dad did carpenter work over the years and dribbled nails and screws all over the place.
That led him to design this product.” Soon after the product ran in FIN, it landed a spot on QVC as part of the “Quest for America’s Best: 50 in 50 Tour,” a 50-week nationwide product search. “All 2,000 of the units we had supplied sold out in less than two minutes after being on the air,” Todd says. “We were able to make enough money to pay off our home farm.”
The Attractor retails for $19.99, which he says is cheaper than what it costs to fix a flat tire punctured by a nail left on the ground. Plus, it reduces downtime by finding a tool that’s been dropped. In the 20 years the company has marketed the product, others have tried to copy it, Todd says. “So we’ve had to make some changes to differentiate ourselves.”
Thicker steel is used now, and an aluminum cap or ferrule has been added to the end of the handle to protect the wood. The company also changed the color from black to green to reflect that it is environmentally friendly by reducing landfill space from lost parts or discarded tires.
The handle is still made of wood, whereas others use cheaper met- al, which can be a hazard near electrical outlets, Todd says. The Attractor is sold in hardware stores across the country. A store locator is featured on the company’s website.
Todd adds, “I just wanted to say thanks to Farm Industry News for the Readers’ Choice award in 1994. It gave us the exposure and credibility to help us get where we are now.”
For more information on the Attractor, call P.S. Manufacturing at 800-695-8012, visit psmfgco.com.
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