By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Before leaving Howard Lake, recently-resigned Police Chief Tracy Vetruba has found another way to leave his mark in town.
He and Brad Stannard have formed the company Coolmask, designing a new product to create a more comfortable environment inside a welding helmet.
“Stannard had the idea of blowing fresh air into a welding helmet to improve safety and comfort,” Vetruba said, noting they took the idea and ran with it.
The company is located in the former Atlas Anchoring building behind The Pit Stop at 640 Dutch Lake Drive in Howard Lake.
“Brad handles the business and financial end, and is the president of the company; I am responsible for the intellectual and design side and am vice president,” Vetruba said.
The Coolmask Welding Hood Ventilator is an apparatus that blows relatively fresh/cool air into a welding hood, according to Vetruba.
It also helps prevent the buildup of noxious fumes and heat within the helmet, and can adapt to nearly any welding helmet.
The idea for the apparatus first revealed itself in 2008. After creating an initial product powered by four AA batteries, the business partners sold a few of the units.
“But sales were not strong because of air flow issues,” Vetruba said.
So, Vetruba redesigned the product, using a Nickel metal hydride rechargeable battery that increased the air flow three-fold, blowing 25 cubic feet per minute.
The unit has a charge jack located on the bottom, comes with a battery charger and can be recharged in about 10 hours.
“I think it will sell better now,” Vetruba said.
All of the parts are ordered, and employees Karrie and Rick Weber are waiting for them to arrive in Howard Lake for assembly, Vetruba said.
Within a few weeks, the improved units will be on the market.
Although 3M Speedglass has a similar product, its unit is about $1,500, but the Coolmask Welding Hood Ventilator costs $200, according to Vetruba.
Another similar product is available from Miller Welding Products, but not much is known about it, he said.
Rechargeable batteries were chosen as the power source for the units in an effort to offer a more economical power solution, and to create a more environmentally-friendly product.
Vetruba is expecting the Coolmask Welding Hood Ventilator to be available at welding supply stores, soon.
For more information about ordering the product, click on the link at www.heraldjournal.com.