The Handy As developement...
We’ve all been there: Christmas functions, staff do’s and business networking events where everyone stands about with a glass in one hand and a plate in the other. Sounds like a perfectly normal picture of people hobnobbing whilst enjoying the refreshments provided, but there is one obvious flaw. How do you eat without surrendering your glass?
It took the inventive thinking of Parua Bay residents Evan and Ada Davis to come up with a way to meet this challenge for long-suffering socialites.
But before we can reveal the answer, there’s the journey, the sheep, the farm, the farm-stay and the dribbly paint tin to deal with first.
Evan and Ada know a thing or two about challenges! Having both been widowed in the 1990’s, they married at the start of the new Millennium, ran away together from city life in Auckland and moved to Whangarei. They settled on a lifestyle property in Parua Bay, continuing to build the existing South Suffolk Sheep Stud, Ridgeland Farm, while Evan maintained his manufacturing engineering business from a leaky shed.
This experience was the beginning of a series of unusual innovations…
They are a bit ‘hands on’ these two and one day whilst doing a spot of decorating Ada became frustrated with paint drips and mess on the tin. Unable to close the paint tin efficiently, she muttered under my breath… ‘I wish I could just peel away this mess’, and with the air turning blue around her, ran to her husband to air her frustration.
Evan being rather a clever chap, with years of experience making vacuum forming tools for a plastics packaging company in Auckland , listened patiently to Ada ’s dribbly paint pot woes and a plot began to form. This was swiftly followed by a handy as gadget to catch those pesky drips and sort her messy paint tin rim!
A couple of years later at one of the many tourism events hosted by Destination Northland in Paihia, Ada and Evan discovered another need… and opportunity. Trying to balance a cup and saucer and food in one hand, while handing out business cards and eat at the same time. Rather than cry over the crumbs in their tea cup, they decided to hatch a solution.
Fast forward to Winter 2011 – it’s quiet on the farm. Cash flow is tight, the Ladies (ewes) are still heavily pregnant, tourists have eyes only for the RWC and idle hands find work – Ada and Evan decide now is the time to put their inventive plans into action.
With the help of Terry Sage Business Coaching NZ and a few bright ideas from their neighbours, ‘Handy As – Kiwi Solutions’, was formed. Branding colours were decided on – Purple for sophistication and Orange for cheerfulness and Ada began to worry the sheep singing ‘I see a purple silhouetto of a man… Handy As! Handy As! Handy as a hand free’ and a spiffy logo was designed by Monster Graphics. The first run of Handy As! Fumble-free Function Plates rolled off the production line.
The function plates slot neatly onto the stem of your glass, freeing up your hand so you can nibble those tasty nibbles between deftly dealing out your business cards or phone number (depending on the agenda).
Ada is pleased with how they have turned out from the original idea. “They are an affordable, disposable, recyclable (PET1), re-usable (hand wash) function plate that’s fumble free,” she says enthusiastically. “After much deliberation, we decided on two designs and three colours – white, black and my favorite colour – clear!” explains Ada .
The Elite holds a stemmed wine glass, plus food, sauce, toothpicks and dips. The Executive design takes a cup, stubby, tumbler or wine glass, plus securely holding food, dips and toothpicks. “Someone pointed out at the Bridal Show that it will even hold an entire wine bottle, but we think that’s a bit over the top!” Ada says.
One of the challenges Handy As Ltd now faces is educating the country. “This concept is so new to New Zealand most people think it’s just another party plate, but it is a quality NZ Made recyclable innovation and word will spread.”
Already they have graced food and wine festivals and Ada reports that interest is mounting. “Now hobnobbers and networkers around the country can have their cake and eat it too.”
The next solution to roll off the Handy As production line is that messy paint tin rim.
The Handy As Tin Rim Trim is currently being developed in the two main sizes – one litre and four litre lids (patent pending) and courtship has begun with the major NZ paint companies. “We will also have our products available for people to order online from our new website,” says Ada .
So two problems solved and two products underway. But wait there's more – Ada and Evan won't stop there. Among the future products in the planning stages for Handy As are - The Macca Cracka - Hot Pot Handle - Handy Susan – and Gummy Garters – when will it end!
There’s never a dull moment at Ridgeland Farm it seems. Let’s hope they leave enough time for counting sheep.