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Stopping Dust in its Tracks
It was 2017 and Tom Huntley was on his last leg.
A few years earlier, he’d lost his job and was living on his savings. Unable to find work, he started a woodworking business – previously just a hobby of his. Through this work, Tom came up with an idea that would change his life forever.
“Like most finish carpenters, I was very concerned about how much dust might end up in my clients’ homes,” explains Tom. Dealing with mostly high-end clients, he knew they wanted their homes to be spotless while he was there and when he left.
According to Tom, cleaning items available on the market were clunky and hard to use. So, he decided to invent something better. He worked tirelessly in his basement, researching cyclone power on the internet and using his previous knowledge in physics to guide his designs. He created prototype after prototype for 2 ½ years, but each design failed to fulfill the vision he had.
Then one night, Eureka.
“I ran upstairs and woke up my wife,” recalls Tom. “It was the middle of the night!”
Tom had finally created a design that did exactly what he wanted. He could easily attach his prototype to his wet/dry vacuum and the suction cleaned up every last speck of dust. He shopped his prototype to big manufacturers but they all turned him down.
“I just knew I had something special,” says Tom. “I knew the product worked so well that other contractors like me would love it.”
One day, a client demanded that Tom shop it to The Home Depot.
“I waited six weeks until I finally had the nerve to send that email,” says Tom. “You don’t just email The Home Depot.”
But Tom did.
He sent a three-sentence email to a merchant at The Home Depot. An hour later, he got a call.
“My heart was pounding out my chest,” says Tom.
The voice on the other line was Scott Moore; he wanted to see this contraption that Tom had created.
“The thing was, I just had the one prototype,” explains Tom. “I had no manufacturers lined up, no team of people. It was just me and this prototype. That’s why buyers were reluctant to work with me.”
He decided he needed to try. He made his way from his home in Detroit to The Home Depot Store Support Center (SSC) in Atlanta.
“At this point, I was incredibly nervous. I had two kids in college and my house was close to foreclosure,” recalls Tom, his voice trembling as he remembers that difficult time. “I had to secure The Home Depot or my family and I would be living in a one-bedroom apartment. I remember thinking, ‘This has to work.’”
On March 10, 2017, at 7:30 a.m., Tom started his demo at The Home Depot’s SSC. He inspected the vacuum to make sure there was nothing in there. He then dumped sawdust all over the ground, attached his prototype to the vacuum and connected it to an orange Homer bucket. He turned it on and sucked up all of the debris on the floor.
“I remember Scott’s colleague, Denzel, was so shocked,” says Tom. “Denzel asked me, ‘Is this a card trick or something?’”
This was no trick. This was Tom’s creation. A creation he had labored over for months on end, hoping and praying that he would be able to achieve his vision and turn his idea into a living.
Needless to say, Scott was impressed.
The Home Depot now carries Tom’s product, The Dustopper, in more than 600 stores across the country and online. For Tom, his American dream came true and he and his family are celebrating the happiness and security in their home.
“I’m just so thankful,” says Tom. “To God, my family, and The Home Depot for taking the chance. I really can’t believe it.”