UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark and sustain entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country.

KCSourceLink connects KC entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

MOSourceLink connects Missouri entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

Whiteboard2Boardroom connects entrepreneurs and businesses to technologies available for licensing.

Digital Sandbox KC provides early-stage proof-of-concept support for digital products.

Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center provides technical assistance to startup and existing businesses.

ScaleUP! Kansas City helps businesses with revenues around $200K scale toward their first $1 million.

Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers helps local businesses obtain government contracts.

KCInvestED helps investors learn more about investing in KC startups.

SourceLink® helps communities nationwide build vibrant and vital entrepreneurial ecosystems.
UMKC Innovation Center
March 22, 2017

The Hockey Valet is Helping Players Play Hard and Not Stink in Chesterfield, Missouri

The Hockey Valet founded by Don Guenther of Chesterfield, Missouri

Lots of hockey, plenty of ice and travel between games means sports equipment gets sweaty, wet and tossed around. Hockey player, Don Guenther of Chesterfield, Missouri, was well aware of the problem, “I needed a better way to hang, haul and transport my equipment that would permit drying, reduce bacteria build-up and smell.” Current bulky products were available, but what was most needed was a product that was lightweight, strong, compact and portable.

Don applied his engineering background to build his first model from wood, but eventually settled on a product made of aluminum and stainless steel rivets. The Hockey Valet became available in 2012.

However, it wasn’t an easy road. “I wanted a made-in-the-USA product so sourcing materials and finding suppliers was a huge challenge.” Another issue was the pin used to hold the horizontal arms in place. “I created a pin that would lock the arms, which players often lost. I redesigned that feature to a Snap Lock® which took another year to develop.”

Don is grateful to the St. Louis entrepreneurial community and the Entrepreneur’s Organization for their support, mentoring and encouragement. “The entrepreneurial energy and karma is quite exciting.”

While he developed his product, Don feared coaches and players wouldn’t take him seriously, but discovered that spouses and hockey moms found value in the product. “They appreciate the health and safety aspects of the Hockey Valet, but also its convenience, lifetime guarantee and reduced cost to competitor products.”

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy says Don, but he adds, “There will be a lot of barriers, but we work through them. It’s very satisfying to solve a problem that hasn’t been addressed.” Don is also grateful to be able to provide employment to people with special needs who assemble the product in a sheltered workshop.

His business goals include promoting the Hockey Valet in Canada and Europe, and to reach out to other sports such as football and baseball.

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Post provided by Kris Edens, a copywriting and blogging resource for small business. She resides in Festus, Missouri and enjoys networking, writing and the entrepreneurial community.

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