When senior business administration major Brandan Meister was paralyzed in a car accident four years ago, the odds of standing his 6-foot frame again didn't look good. For several months, he slowly recuperated from a broken back, head lacerations, and broken ribs after being thrown from a rolling vehicle.
A student at the time of Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., Meister moved back to Pittsburg after the accident to be closer to his family and to enroll in the PSU College of Business. Discovering that life is much different from the vantage point of a wheelchair, he couldn't help but let his entrepreneurial brain wander when thinking about products that could make his life easier.
"You don't realize how hard it is to do things like close a door behind you or stay dry when it's raining when you're in a wheelchair," said Meister, now 26. "I'm always creating new inventions in my mind to make things easier."
What he found he missed most was the feeling of a good standing stretch. Paralyzed from the chest down, Meister searched for frames that would help him stand by himself. Deterred by the complicated straps, hydraulic pumps, and hefty price tags, he and his father set out to build a stand of their own.
Welding together the frame was no big deal. But when it came to fashioning the piece that would support his back as he stood, Meister hit a stroke of genius. Instead of a strap, they created a foam-covered metal arm that would cradle his back and lock into place. Soon, the 8-Second Stand was born.
"It seems like everything we found took a long time to help the user stand up," he said, demonstrating the quick speed of his invention, which costs about $1,500 less than most models. "I realized people needed a better way. It's important to get up so your legs don't atrophy. Imagine sitting down for a year straight and never being able to stand. It feels so good, physically and mentally, to get on your feet."
His father, president of Leisure Time, a Pittsburg company that makes recreational yard equipment, introduced Meister to Scott Moser (BS '97), a product design engineer with the company. The two have since become business partners, working to get their inventions patented and to find a manufacturer and distributer. In addition to the 8-Second Stand, they're developing prototypes of an umbrella-type device designed to attach to an open car door, a portable porch ramp for renters, a tool to make closing doors easier, as well as several other products.
In June, the two presented the 8-Second Stand at "Pitch Night at the Joe," a product competition hosted by the Joseph Newman Business and Technology Center in Joplin, Mo. They won first place and the $1,000 prize. With the help of his PSU business professors, Meister has also been working with an area small business development center to get his inventions patent-protected and ready for sale.
"These products are making his life easier, so that's a good sign," Moser said. "When you live it every day like Brandan does, it puts you in a good position to know what would be useful to other people, too."
For more information on the 8-Second Stand and other products being developed by Meister and Moser, visit www.eznormz.com or contact Meister at 620-704-2882.