If necessity is the mother of invention, then Polymer Contours Owner Tyson Daniels and engineer Lucas Taylor have their finger on the pulse of what people need during the pandemic and invented a solution for it. And their idea was so good that even Amazon took notice!

“Since touching infected surfaces is a possible way to transmit COVID-19, people are doing their best to avoid commonly touched public surfaces,” Daniels explained. “So during a call with Lucas we began thinking about creating a single-use item for pushing elevator buttons in buildings and within a half an hour PushSafe was born.”

Turning a Concept into a Product

Aimed at property managers who want to provide their tenants or guests with a touchless way to trigger an elevator button, PushSafe is a small plastic pin that is ideal for use in apartment complexes, office buildings, hotels and hospitals. After completing the design, Taylor reached out to Greg Henry of Push10, a branding agency in Philadelphia, to see if he would be interested in coming aboard to help market the product. Henry conducted a 10-question online survey of property managers to gauge their level of interest in the product and were pleased to find overwhelming support for it.

As soon as the design was finalized, they discussed its scalability since they would be controlling the manufacturing process in-house. Once they determined there would be no scaling issues, Henry launched a web site that began taking pre-orders to asses interest at the next level. Within 24 hours there were enough orders to pull the trigger. They ordered the two injection molds that are needed to produce the three components of PushSafe, and the molds arrived in late June.

The PushSafe team realized quickly that this was a new market, and shortly after Taylor filed the patent pending application, he wrote the full patent application, which is now pending at the U.S. Patent Office.

How it Works

To use PushSafe, users twist off a single-use pin from the plate, use it to depress the button for the floor they want to go to, and then discard it in the recycle bin located just below the bracket that contains the plate. It’s sanitary and hygienic because it prevents users from touching the elevator button panels, and because the pins are made of a medical grade polymer with an antimicrobial additive. The pins are recyclable in most municipal recycling systems under the #7 “Other” category.

The starter kit comes with a mounting bracket to be hung next to the elevator button panel using non-abrasive quarter-inch adhesive foam squares, a small recycle bin to collect discarded pins, and five plates with 105 pins each, for a total of 525 pins per kit. PushSafe has a total of eight SKUs with multiple bulk ordering options that are discounted for larger customer orders. While property managers buy the base units in bulk with a few Master Pack options, it’s the replacement pin plates that generate recurring revenue for the plastics manufacturing company.

When Amazon Comes Calling

Selling a product online is natural in today’s business world, and every business owner knows that selling it on Amazon is a great opportunity for growth. But initially the entrepreneurs weren’t planning on going the Amazon route until things were up and running and they had a good customer base and product response. And then Amazon called him!

“They found out about the product from our web site and reached out to me saying that they not only wanted to sell it on their site, but they planned to feature it on the Prime homepage in the healthcare/personal care section as a suggested sales item for related COVID-19 products. I was floored!” Daniels exclaimed. “They even set us up with a dedicated team to help us market the product on their site as part of their launch program.”

Henry is handling the marketing efforts by using a combination of blog posts, targeted Google ads, and by acquiring mailing lists in the targeted markets. They are also beginning to send starter kits to property owners so they can see and feel PushSafe for themselves, as well as try it out. PushSafe was also hand-picked by a few other distributors like Practical Tool and McMaster-Carr to be featured as a COVID-19 solution in the button pusher category.

What’s Ahead for PushSafe

If all goes well with the sales of PushSafe, it could end up being a record year for Polymer Contours, which Daniels has owned for the past six years. A client company in the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center business incubation program, Polymer Contours was struggling with just one main client and two mold machines when he acquired it in 2015. Since then he has turned it around with 28 customers and four mold machines.

Presently the staff are working on fulfilling the pre-orders that came in on the PushSafe web site, along with the company’s many custom product orders for other clients. And processing PushSafe orders isn’t just producing the plastic components, but it also includes assembling the eight SKUs into boxes along with instructions, grouping them into larger boxes, and shipping them out.

For now, Daniels is awaiting the potential order windfall that may come when the product is finally for sale on Amazon, which should be some time in the next few weeks. His automated machines are able to run for 24 hours at a time without human intervention. But he expects them to run 24/7 when that day comes.

Taking Polymer Contours to the Next Level with Proprietary Products

Developing more products is also in his company’s future. Creating and producing proprietary products has been a goal since his acquisition of Polymer Contours. “Injection molding is more than just doing contract manufacturing for companies,” Daniels explained. “It’s important for my business to have proprietary products. It’s a milestone for us really. And I’m proud to be doing it right here in Allentown and the Lehigh Valley. I’m a big advocate for this region and for manufacturing.”

One of those new products is SpreadIT, a bright red all-in-one plastic cap and spreader for jarred foods like peanut butter and jelly. The product’s tagline is “Less Clean-up, More Fun.” The device snaps onto containers from 15-18 ounces rather than screwing on like most lids do, and it is dishwasher safe on the top rack, so it’s easy to clean. It’s a project that Polymer Contours took on 18 months ago, but Daniels liked it so much that he decided to get involved at a deeper level with the inventor.

“It’s a safe and easy way for an adult or child to spread something since it doesn’t involve using a knife or sharp edge,” said Daniels. His own daughter is a fan and even helped him test the prototype.

While he was working with his contact at Amazon on PushSafe, Daniels introduced SpreadIT and now, it too has been approved for the Amazon Launch Program. “SpreadIT will be featured as a suggested add-on to orders for products like peanut butter,” he said. “That could be huge considering Amazon sells thousands of jars a day. We’ve just shipped our first fulfillment order to Amazon and should be live within the next two weeks.”