Make us your home page
Instagram

Clearwater bracket inventor sees mailbox flags from sea to shining sea

Steve Granade and his latest invention: a quick-stick bracket that attaches stick flags to curbside mailboxes. He spent a few years developing it and insisted that all parts be manufactured in the United States. 

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Steve Granade and his latest invention: a quick-stick bracket that attaches stick flags to curbside mailboxes. He spent a few years developing it and insisted that all parts be manufactured in the United States. 

Everybody has dreams. Steve Granade's is more streets like his own in Countryside that's decked out with flags sprouting from two dozen curbside mailboxes.

"I see waves of mailbox flags spreading from neighborhood to neighborhood," said the 55-year-old hobbyist-inventor of a $4 stick-on bracket that makes it possible. "People turned to displaying the flag to feel better after 9/11. Maybe this can help bring the country together again."

And help this would-be home marketer snag a few bucks launching what might turn into the next patriotic fad.

With a name pronounced like a handheld explosive, Granade has a history of inventing stuff you didn't know you need. Like the suntan lotion applicator for remote corners of your back. Or in days when pay phones were plentiful, his thoughtful "call me" $1 greeting cards scripted with appropriate prose and a slot to store a quarter. And don't forget edible Flubb's Fishing Worms made from gummi candy.

"Kids and fish loved them," he recalled. None was profitable. But he did generate sufficient cash to buy a small boat and keep his wife, Helen, an airline flight attendant, supportive. But for Granade, a self-styled fix-it guy by nature, the thrill is the hunt for a product solution more than hitting a big score.

"It took me three years to develop the quick-stick flag bracket because every part had be made in the USA," said Granade, an Auburn University grad who sells the bracket online at Prd2be.com. "I had distributors interested early, but they all wanted it made in China."

Cheap, disposable yardstick flags are just the sort of product Granade, who spent much of his career in corporate marketing at consumer products companies and trade publications, sees yearning to be kicked up a notch.

Most stick flags end up poked into the ground in cemeteries, which typically forbid sticking brackets on tombstones.

He moved to mailboxes because they are government property, protected by law from most forms of advertising. But they can be used to display flags and sports pennants. The market brims with metal and plastic brackets to hold flags. But to protect the hands of mail-delivery folks, it's illegal to bolt, screw or nail any bracket to a mailbox.

In his dining room, Granade hand-poured plastic resin into a variety of molds he handcrafted to form the brackets. He found a weatherproof 3M adhesive that's tough enough to hold road toll tag devices on cars. He talked his product through the postal regulators and filed for patents.

No one-trick pony, his bracket also sticks on other rough surfaces to hold pinwheels, spinners or windsocks.

A Dunedin Ace Hardware tested them in a summer display of yard flags. He sold a couple dozen. That was enough to line up friends and relatives to help assemble a stockpile of 3,500 brackets and secure national distribution with Annin & Co., one of the nation's oldest and biggest makers of flags and accessories.

"They are selling very well so far, and we just got them in the catalog for True Value Hardware stores," said Dale Coots, Annin marketing manager. "It's a unique item, and let me tell you, I get a couple product pitches a week, so I've seen them all."

One of the most frequently pitched: inventions that keep flags from tangling in wind.

Of course, Granade is working on his own solution. But that's another story.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Clearwater bracket inventor sees mailbox flags from sea to shining sea 05/31/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 31, 2010 6:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains

    Banking

    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]
  2. Florida GDP growth in first quarter 2017 ranks 21st among states, still outpacing U.S.

    Economic Development

    Florida's gross domestic product or GDP rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter, slightly faster than the nation's growth of 1.2 percent and placing Florida 21st among the states for growth rates, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Not too hot. Not too cold.

    These Jackson Square Townhomes began hitting the west Hillsborough County market late last year and continued to be sold into the first quarter of 2017. The real estate sector was the biggest driver of Florida's gross domestic product, which rose 1.4 percent in the first quartrer of 2017.  [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. A new app will help you find your favorite Tampa Bay food trucks

    Food & Dining

    What's new: Food tech

    Local food businesses are embracing new technologies and partnerships to bring us extra deliciousness.

    Michael Blasco of Tampa Bay Food Trucks says that everyone always asked about an app to help find their favorite food trucks. There is, available for iPhones and Droids.
  4. Another Pinellas foreclosure auction fools bidders, raises questions

    Real Estate

    For the second time in six weeks, a company connected to lawyer Roy C. Skelton stood poised to profit from a Pinellas County foreclosure auction that confused even experienced real estate investors.

    A Palm Harbor company bid  $112,300 for  this Largo townhome at a foreclosure auction July 21 not realizing the auction involved a second mortgage, connected to lawyer and  real estate investor Roy Skelton -- and that the bank could still foreclose on the  first mortgage.
[SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN   |   Times]
  5. Clearwater-based USAmeriBank acquired by New Jersey bank in $816 million deal

    Banking

    CLEARWATER — USAmeriBancorp, Inc., based in Clearwater, is being acquired by New Jersey's Valley National Bancorp in an $816 million deal, it was announced today.

    Joe Chillura, CEO of USAmeribank, shown inside a branch in Ybor City in this file photo.
[KATHLEEN FLYNN l Times]