Teaneck—Sidney Vidaver describes himself as “a creative person… and a lifelong Zionist.” But he never expected to have the chance to combine the two interests—and in a potentially money-making venture to boot.
The Teaneck resident is the inventor of the ReGripper, an innovative toothbrush holder designed for bathrooms in older houses and apartments. The device consists of a rigid platform molded onto an elastic sleeve, which can slide over most traditional, wall-mounted holders. On the sides of the sleeve are flexible grippers that can hold toothbrushes of any size, including electric toothbrushes.
Like many inventions, the ReGripper was the byproduct of necessity. When Vidaver and his family moved into their house—originally built in 1936—three years ago, he found “an old, ceramic built-in toothbrush holder with holes that were too small to fit modern toothbrushes” in his bathroom.
“I couldn’t really use this thing as intended,” he says, “but a bathroom remodeling was not in the cards.” He realized that many residents of older dwellings faced a similar dilemma—and that typical solutions, such as putting toothbrushes in a glass or cup, were not only clumsy but unsanitary.
So Vinaver, who was trained as an attorney and works in compliance at an investment bank, unleashed his inner inventor. “I have always tinkered and fixed things around the house,” he notes, “but this is my first attempt at designing and taking to market a consumer product.”
He began by making a clay mold, then experimented with different materials before deciding on a final design. (He decided on the name ReGripper “because we are ‘reclaiming’ the built-in toothbrush holder.”)
To optimize his invention so that it would be suitable for mass production, he looked for an experienced engineer. Most of the ones he found charged a price that was too high for Vinaver’s budget. But then he reached out to the Israel-based firm Galler Engineering, whose principal, Iftach Galler, had spent two decades designing household products for the well-known tool manufacturer Stanley Works (which has since merged with Black & Decker to form Stanley Black & Decker).
“They were able to do the necessary design work for a very competitive price,” he says. “And they did beautiful work.”
The Israelis also helped Vidaver by referring him to several manufacturing plants in their country.
“I had already checked out manufacturing costs in the US and China – and to my great surprise, the Israeli plants’ pricing was the most competitive I had seen,” he says. “Tooling costs in the US were roughly double the Israeli costs, and the per part production costs were between 1.5 to 2 times as much. The Chinese firms also had a per part cost about 1.5 times as much as Israel. Plus, China does not have a good reputation for protecting intellectual property, whereas Israel has much more respect for ownership of ideas.”
Vidaver has launched a funding campaign on the popular Kickstarter website, hoping to raise $30,000 by mid-October to cover the costs of manufacturing and packaging the ReGripper. His presentation can be found at www.kickstarter.com/projects/1260223817/the-regripper-reclaim-your-built-in-toothbrush-hol.
As a supporter of Israel, Vinaver was pleased to have the chance to work with an Israeli firm. “I had assumed that I would probably have to manufacture in China,” he says. “I’m so glad that instead, I can support Israeli engineering and manufacturing.”
But Vinaver also acknowledges that he did not realize the extent of Israel’s industrial and technological development.
“It turns out,” he jokes, “that there is more to Israeli manufacturing than SodaStream.”
By Philip Berroll