250: The Blog
Press Shop | 08.31.2018
Brad Hill and his father, David, meet a lot of people who do the heavy lifting in life.
The Hills are physical therapists. So when the heavy lifters’ heavy lift goes wrong, they visit the Hills.
But the Hills have invented a device that they hope will reduce the number of heavy lifters who show up at their clinic. Their product is a wide vinyl strap with a handle on each end – a lifting handle. For simplicity and for marketing purposes, they combined the words lifting and handle to make Landle.
“The problem of back injury is so big,” Brad says, “we knew the Landle wouldn’t hurt our caseload at the clinic.”
Their story illustrates how an idea can grow from a small start into an enterprise that leads to other enterprises, creates jobs, and helps people. It’s a story that plays out all over our state and nation.
Brad dreamed up the Landle – literally – while he was sleeping.
“In my dream, I saw somebody using it – a strap with handles. When I woke up, I drew it out.”
Brad showed it to his father, who agreed that the idea was a good one. So they bought molding clay, Velcro and straps, and built prototypes. They sought troubleshooting advice from friends and talked to retailers about selling Landle.
“We didn’t know any better, so we went for it.”
The U.S. Patent Office granted them two patents, and they started selling the Landle. The challenge of marketing and distribution limited the potential for the father and son, who still considered their clinic as their first calling.
But obstacles don’t scare entrepreneurs, and after more than a decade as a small three-generation (Brad’s children helped) family company, the Hills learned about Walmart’s Open Call, an event that gives entrepreneurs a chance to present their product to potential investors and distributors.
In the summer of 2017, they presented the Landle at the Open Call.
Walmart went for it, and now The Landle is in 1,700 Walmarts plus a whole lot of other places.
But that created a different problem. After Walmart agreed to sell the Landle, the small company that had been trying to hang on for ten years suddenly became a small company that couldn’t keep up with the orders.
The Hills’ challenge led them to contact two friends, who founded a new company, and suddenly, this dream of Brad’s is supporting countless families and protecting people from back injury.
“There were a lot of early mornings and late nights,” Brad says. “But we knew we had a good product. We knew it would hit. That’s why we kept going.”
Their patients were their primary inspiration. “We always went back to that,” Brad says, “trying to help our own patients.”
To see what all The Landle can do, visit thelandle.com.
Next up on 250: When the Landle hits the big time, Brad and David Hill recruit two of Brad’s childhood friends, who start a company of their own as they take the invention national. It’s the way entrepreneurs fuel the state’s economy.