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Homebuilder-turned-inventor Bryan Nooner with electrical cord protectidevices his Frankfort company Midwest Innovative Products markets. Nooner is holding smaller versiTwist Seal

Homebuilder-turned-inventor Bryan Nooner with electrical cord protection devices his Frankfort company, Midwest Innovative Products, markets. Nooner is holding a smaller version of the Twist and Seal, which is sold at hardware stores. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media.

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Updated: August 22, 2014 6:02AM



It started out with a challenge from his wife to figure out a way to keep strings of outdoor Christmas lights from shorting out in the rain and snow.

By the end of this year, home builder turned inventor Bryan Nooner expects to have sold more than 1 million of his Twist and Seal cord connection protectors, which is quite a feat considering the product was barely off the drawing board three years ago.

This fall, it will be sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Target, and the Mokena resident is in discussions that could significantly broaden the product’s retail reach. It will also be featured in November during an appearance on the home shopping channel QVC.

The product consists of two hard-plastic halves that cover the male and female cord ends. Twisting the halves together forces a soft foam piece to form a tight seal around the connection.

The original larger device was meant to protect connections for extension cords, but customer and retailer feedback made Nooner realize he needed a smaller version for smaller plugs on light strings. His company, Midwest Innovative Products, has also come out with the Cord Dome, which can hold and protect multiple cord connections.

In 2012, the larger Twist and Seal was carried in about 200 stores, including some Ace Hardware locations, as well as certain Wal-Mart locations in Canada and some Home Depot stores in Mexico.

The larger Twist and Seal was named the most innovative new product at the 2012 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, while the dome won that award last year.

“That (2012 win) allowed us to get some recognition because some of the largest retailers in the country voted on it,” he said. “That gave us some credibility.”

But, Nooner said, the smaller version “is what hit the sweet spot in the market.” It went into production last September and was in Home Depot stores in time for the Christmas season last year.

“It became a huge success,” Nooner said. “It was a very successful launch for us and Home Depot.”

By the end of this year, with it being sold in thousands more stores, the mini is expected to surpass sales of 1 million units, he said.

The mini version comes in green to blend in with shrubs and trees, and white to hide along gutters.

Nooner said he is also in talks with Wal-Mart that could bring Twist and Seal into that chain’s stores next year, and is also discussing deals with other national retailers.

Beyond holiday lights, Twist and Seal has gained the attention of contractors and utility companies to secure electrical connections on equipment in the field, and a Virginia community is using the product to protect municipal holiday lights and electrical equipment for public works projects.

“That’s a big leap for us,” Nooner said.

Packaging for the Dome, for example, notes applications beyond holiday lights, such as farms and construction sites. Cords running from the Dome are held in place by flexible tabs, while, Nooner said, “the top hangs over like a big umbrella

Formerly a biology teacher at Brother Rice High School, Nooner had, since the mid 1980s, been building homes in communities such as Frankfort, Manhattan and Orland Park. He switched to home remodeling a few years ago after the recession brought new-home construction to a virtual halt.

After outside lights at their home had blinked out prior to a holiday party, Nooner’s wife, Mary-Beth, had challenged him to devise a way of overcoming the elements. He figured something would be available at the local hardware store, but after coming up empty handed, began working on what would become Twist and Seal.

“She was really the inspiration for this,” he said.

Beyond working on developing other new products, Nooner said Midwest Innovative Products is also offering services to other budding inventors who, just as he was when he started out, are unsure of where to turn for help in nurturing their idea.

“I’m blessed to be able to have this kind of opportunity,” he said.



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