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Local inventor lands in national spotlight
ARLINGTON An Arlington invention could gain a nationwide spotlight in time for the holiday shopping season this year.
Lynn Marks, sales manager of the Stillaguamish Athletic Club, is also the president and CEO of Slider Corporation, whose winter recreation product has caught the attention of Heartbeat of America, a national TV program hosted by William Shatner.
Marks explained that her companys invention combines skiing and snowboarding by attaching two snowboards to one another, with a steering handle in the front.
I have nephews, nieces and cousins who are into skiing and snowboarding, Marks said. So I thought about combining them. Weve taken it down the slopes on Stevens and it just glides. Its perfect for people who havent skied in a long time, or skiers who want to get into snowboarding. Were also looking at making a version for paraplegics.
Marks recalled that the idea originated about five years ago when she was still a flight attendant based out of Nevada. Although her company has investors, Marks estimated that shes personally invested roughly $20,000 in the product, whose current weight of 29 pounds is half that of its prototype.
Marks received her first phone call from the Heartbeat of America producers more than four weeks ago. They interviewed her by phone and then visited her home March 20 for a two-hour interview. Not all of her companys board members were in town to speak to the TV producers, so shes still waiting to hear from her board of directors before responding officially about the opportunity. She pointed to one promising sign.
One of the producers called me back to check on the boards decision, Marks said. He told me that he sees a lot of inventors that he has to say no to, because their ideas dont have promise. He also said that doesnt normally call inventors back, but he was very interested in our product.
As part of the Heartbeat of America programs goal of helping emerging companies grow, they might conduct as many as four 30-minute tapings of the Slider Corporations product on the slopes. If the Slider Corporation were to secure such a deal from Heartbeat of America, it would also secure the company advertising time on programs such as 20/20 and 60 Minutes, as well as ad space in various sports magazines.
Theyd be getting our name out there, through William Shatner, Marks said. Wed still incur a slight cost, but nowhere near what such an advertising campaign would normally cost.
In the meantime, the Slider Corporation has secured a broader playground on a local level, since the slopes of Stevens Pass are officially open to their invention.
Marks husband Bentley took their invention for a test drive down Stevens Pass April 7, with the slopes risk assessment manager and ski patrol monitoring their progress during an hour and 40 minutes of demonstrations.
Resorts in places like Mt. Baker were welcoming the snowboarding community when almost everyone else still considered them outlaws, so we were looking to follow those footsteps, said Bentley Marks. The general manager told the risk assessment manager that wed met and exceeded their safety expectations and welcomed us, which is huge. Now we can go to other areas, that might not even allow snowboards, with a proven track record under our belts.
Among the test criteria were the inventions ability to come to a stop within 25 feet of any object coming in out of its blind spot and a control mechanism to ensure that the invention would not slide down the slopes without its driver.
It comes with a leash that fits around your wrist, Marks said. Its not slow or cumbersome to get on or off a chair lift, and it kept up with the ski patrol turn for turn. I realized Id been too docile with it because it exceeded my own expectations.
Bentley and Lynn Marks company is working to determine the products final manufacturing cost, so theyll know what its price should be to consumers. Lynn Marks hopes to get the invention in stores before Christmas. To learn more, log onto www.theslidercorporation.com.