Does the thought of shoveling ice and snow leave you cold and miserable? Dread not. There’s a nifty device that can save you the trouble.
HeatTrak, a Paterson, NJ-based company, manufactures electric ice-melting mats that rid walkways and steps of the white stuff before it has a chance to pile up. The mats, which come in residential and industrial sizes, are the brainchild of Hillel Glazer, who as a teenager in Teaneck, NJ, got tired of trolling the neighborhood on snowy days to earn a few bucks shoveling sidewalks and steps.
“I thought, there has to be an easier way,” said Glazer, now 33, explaining how he concocted a crude prototype using a heating pad, duct tape and an old doormat. Then just 16 years old, Glazer had no professional contacts, so he called around to electricians and other tradesmen who gave him advice how to transform his ideas into practical applications using waterproof materials and insulated electric wiring.
Several years and dozens of test runs later, Glazer was ready to get going. He drew up a business plan which he sent to about 15 friends in the hopes of raising $300,000 for initial research and development and other start-up costs. The networking yielded $350,000 from about 10 investors, whose stakes ranged from $5,000 to $50,000, Glazer said.
“The first year was slow, but we built a distributor base to about 10 online sites that sold traditional doormats and similar products. It seemed like a natural fit, and we gave them a percentage of whatever HeatTrak products were sold,” Glazer said.
After 18 months, a private-investment group kicked in another $500,000. The company has experienced steady sales numbers for both the residential- and industrial-sized products, he said, with the last two years each showing 75 percent annual growth.