It’s an idea that literally was sketched out on a paper napkin, but one that could mean a new dimension in outdoor home decorating.
Chris and Jeff Gibbons, two brothers hailing from Wyoming, introduced their creation, Connect-a-Clip, during a small party for investors and supporters Saturday afternoon in Dover.
Connect-a-Clip is a U-shaped nylon band designed to instantly, but firmly, attach to downspouts, fence posts, decks and lampposts; it comes with a number of slip-in accessories that allow just about anything, from flags to Christmas lights to security cameras, to be hung safely and securely.
The brothers not only designed their invention, but have used their combined sales and construction experience to set up a company, Gibbons Innovations, to produce and market Connect-a-Clip.
“We see it as the instant display solution for all sorts of products,” Chris said.
The brothers envision the clips as an alternative to screws and nails because they don’t damage the item they’re used on, he said.
“My goal is to be standing in the aisle of a store someday and hear someone say, ‘Why don’t we use a Connect-a-Clip to put it up?’” Chris said.
Connect-a-Clip also is the definition of a locally-produced product: it was invented here, is being manufactured in Pokomoke, Md., and the brothers plan their initial marketing blitz in smaller regional hardware and garden stores.
With their Delaware roots, that local focus also extends to the brothers.
Chris, 44, and Jeff, 42, both grew up on Pine Street in Wyoming, and attended Caesar Rodney High School; they’re married to two sisters, Kim and Kristin, who also are CR alums.
After graduation, Jeff moved into construction and electrical work, eventually forming his own company. Chris went into food service, where he earned a degree as a chef and later worked for a Columbia, Md., food brokerage firm.
The elder Gibbons has combined that experience, plus his information technology skills into his role as Connect-a-Clip’s most enthusiastic spokesman.
“I’m the sales guy,” Chris said. “Jeff’s very quiet. He’s very good with the detail work, the engineering and the quality control.
“I just run around telling everybody about Connect-a-Clip.”
“That’s his forte, not mine,” he said.
Connect-a-Clip got its start a little more than three years ago with that sketch on a cocktail napkin. Realizing the potential of their idea, the brothers spent their spare time refining the design so that different styles of clips could be used on different exterior home fixtures.
Page 2 of 2 - Chris and Jeff consulted with the DuPont company to come up with the long lasting nylon compound to make the clips and with Pokomoke’s NuTech Manufacturing to produce them.
“We checked out a lot of places, but they had the best price and they were close to us,” Chris said, noting that he and Jeff wanted avoid outsourcing their manufacturing process to overseas companies.
“NuTech has a lot of experience and they’re excellent people,” he said.
Their plan is to have the clips placed in stores near displays for exterior decorations, and to eventually see the clips packaged with those items instead of screws, hooks or other types of fasteners.
Gibbons Innovations is supported by a four-member board of directors and a growing number of investors to help guide the Connect-a-Clip brand and future products the brothers are working on.
It’s been a lot of work, but the brothers are confident as they move ahead.
“I don’t think a lot of people really know what it’s like to get a company started,” Jeff said. “But if it’s done right, it’s like building a house. If you get the foundation right, the house will stand.”
For more information on Connect-a-Clip, including videos on how it is used, visit www.gibbonsinnovations.com.