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WE ARE FRESNO: Fresno Man's Vision Becomes Reality

A 36-year old Clovis man has turned his brilliant idea into reality by manufacturing a paper towel holder which also charges your electronic devices.
A 36-year old Clovis man has turned his brilliant idea into reality by manufacturing a paper towel holder which also charges your electronic devices.

This is Dan Whitlach. His day job is a sales manager at a Fresno trucking company. But in his off time he tries to design the next million dollar device.

"My wife and I were fighting for outlets in our kitchen. Her tablet, my tablet, her phone, my phone and the paper towel holder was sitting right there," says Whitlach.

And thus the Towlhub was born. It's a unique paper towel holder featuring a wine bottle stopper up top and four USB ports on the bottom.

Says Whitlach, "a lot of times ideas you don't think are the best ones, end up being a hit."

After doing some research, Dan learned there was not a patent on his idea so he tried to make the Towelhub take shape by visiting Blue Dolphin Design in Madera.

Owner Mark Jackson and his team have tools like computer aided design programs and one of the only 3D printers in the valley available for the public to use. The $60 thousand dollar machine then created a prototype.

Jackson encourages designers to keep their ideas "simple".

"The simplest solution is going to have the lowest cost to design, lowest cost to prototype, the lowest cost to produce," says Jackson.

If you want to be an inventor, Whitlach says it's important to first ask yourself one question: "It might be a good idea, but is there really a need for it?

For the answer, run it past some folks. Dan started out spending $1500 but now has $20,000 invested into his Towelhub project. And it looks like it's paying off. Skymall magazine plans to put his device in its spring catalog which publishes 5 million copies a quarter.

"I'm trying to get on the cover of the catalog and that would be awesome," says Whitlach.
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