Toilets and tubs are hardly the stuff of great TV viewing, but a press-in-place caulk strip that Greg Amundson invented in his Scandia garage has become a QVC star.
“Lifesaving” is how Amundson describes the impact that a recent spot on the nation’s largest home shopping network has had on his product, EasyCaulk.
The path to the cable TV shopping spotlight, however, was littered with trials, tribulations and lots of tears.
Nearly a decade ago, Amundson was a custom homebuilder and constantly frustrated by inefficiency and lack of innovation that he saw in the construction industry. One night, during a bout of insomnia, he started pondering how to make caulking those hard-to-access areas around tubs and toilets less messy and aggravating.
After toiling, testing and tinkering in his garage workshop, he devised a formula for a preformed caulk that can be unrolled, pressed into place and rolled back up again when finished. No muss, no fuss.
In 2009, Amundson and his wife, June, started their business. Optimistic it would be a big hit, they made a deal with BioPlastic Solutions to manufacture the product in Blooming Prairie, Minn.
The Amundsons went to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas with high hopes, but they came back frustrated. Though people loved the concept, some of the testers had trouble applying the product. For years, Amundson kept refining the design, hoping to come up with an adhesive that could withstand extreme temperatures. Finally, after “more days and nights in the garage than I care to count,” he said, the samples he was testing in a heat chamber and immersion tank performed as expected. “I was shaking with hope that we had maybe, after four years, found our solution,” he said.
June helped create a new logo, package design, website and even a new name. “For the first time in years, we were not failing and it felt wonderful,” said Amundson.
During the summer of 2014, June was diagnosed with lung cancer and died four months later. After working so intensely on the project together and caring for June through her illness, Amundson was even more determined to make the product successful — not just financially.
“My motivation changed,” he said. “It’s a great product that will help many consumers with caulking problems. I always wanted to show the caulking companies I could come up with a simpler and better-looking product and I think we are succeeding.”
Amundson decided to reposition the product message by focusing on its environmentally friendly advantages, including its absence of toxic fumes and off-gassing — it was an idea he and June had discussed before she died.
In April, Amundson was nearly out of cash, energy and inspiration, but he decided to take another trip to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, where he met Richard Wood, one of the on-air hosts for QVC.
It was the moment that changed everything.
About the same time, Amundson began dating Betsy Berge, a family friend who worked in marketing. Amundson hired her to help refine the branding and messaging
“The timing was perfect,” he said. “She has helped me in so many ways to get to where we are now. We’re having a blast personally and with the EasyCaulk progression.”
Berge has been focused on creating materials, mostly photos and videos, that will help take advantage of the QVC opportunity to help find an even bigger audience by finding a spot on the shelves — and websites — of more traditional bricks and mortar retailers.
“It’s a good segue to the big-box stores,” she said.
The strategy seems to be working. Recently, Amundson received another QVC order that’s three times as big as the previous one.
“It’s very exciting and scary to finally be recognized and know you have invented something that the public wants to solve a problem,” he said. “So many things have happened it’s almost surreal.