Couple debuts their own cord management tool
Local entrepreneurs design and launch GadgetKlip with help of West Michigan manufacturers.
A local husband-and-wife team is saying “I do” to a business venture 30 years into their marriage.
Michael and Sherryl Despres founded GCK Products LLC in 2015, and after four years of prototyping, they have brought the product Michael Despres invented — the GadgetKlip — to market.
GadgetKlip, designed with cord and cable management in mind, was unveiled at the Ace Hardware Corporation’s 2019 fall convention from Sept. 5-8 in Atlanta.
The product — which comes in three sizes and colors: small/white, medium/blue and large/black — is now available to order online at gadgetklip.com. A pack of five in all three sizes/colors retails for $9.95, or people can buy 20-pack with seven large, six medium and seven small clips for $30.
The 20-pack is a nod to the company’s slogan, “GadgetKlip: Every space needs at least 20.”
“We just keep finding more and more uses for it,” Sherryl Despres said. “One is not going to be enough.”
Some of GadgetKlip’s potential applications include keeping Christmas lights tangle-free in storage; organizing computer, phone, electrical and XLR cables; stowing ropes and bungee cords on boats; and keeping A/V and power cables neat and presentable during conventions.
Many Ace Hardware stores around the country will carry the GadgetKlip, and the couple is working to get their product on shelves at Meijer, as well.
Michael Despres, who works a day job in business and uses a lot of wired devices, had the idea for GadgetKlip several years ago after his improvised system of using binder clips to keep his cords from tangling was leaving dents on the cables.
“I was just sitting at the computer one day and thinking, ‘There has got to be something else out there that’s better,’” he said.
“I searched, and I couldn’t find anything. There are these little Velcro things, there’s a thing that’s magnetic, there’s a thing that snaps, but there wasn’t anything that really resonated with me. I said, ‘Maybe we could just take the binder clip and redesign it this way, and it would work a lot better with a curvature.’”
Soon after, Michael Despres was having drinks at one of the long, community tables at Bonefish Grill in Kentwood, and the former owner of Grand Rapids Spring & Wire sat down next to him, a fellow he knew from Junior Achievement and Rotary Club connections.
Michael Despres reintroduced himself, described his idea for an invention and asked if the gentleman could help. He said yes, introducing him to his son, an engineer who ultimately helped Michael Despres draw up CAD plans for a prototype.
At first, Michael Despres was hoping to make the GadgetKlip — or as he planned to call it at the time, the Gadget Cord Klip — out of metal.
He took the CAD drawings to Apex Spring & Stamping in Tallmadge Township, and that company gave him some advice about materials and then referred him to another firm, Zeeland-based Disher Design, for engineering assistance.
Disher conducted a finite element analysis to identify the weak spots of the chosen metal and then 3D printed some plastic prototypes that Michael Despres could assess in case he was interested in switching materials.
GCK Products ultimately contracted Apex to make the metal wings on the clip and, at Disher’s suggestion, hired Zeeland-based Eagle Design to do both the prototyping and production of the GadgetKlip, including the plastic injection molding.
After evaluating five types of plastic and making 15 prototypes, the Despreses settled on stainless steel wings and a flexible plastic body that “hugs” the wires and cables instead of pinching them.
They have secured utility and design patents in the U.S. and filed for patents in Canada, Mexico, the European Union, India, China and Hong Kong to be able to expand to international sales eventually.
Sherryl Despres, who also is a professional actor, serves as GCK’s president and spokesperson.
Michael Despres, who is vice president, runs the day-to-day operations.
The pair also has a contractor, Matthew Panken, who helped design the company’s marketing and branding strategy and is filling the role of vice president of sales.
The Despreses said they don’t plan to stop with just one invention, and while adding new colors and sizes to the GadgetKlip inventory, also are exploring new product possibilities.
“It’s been an interesting journey, and we’ve learned a lot,” Sherryl Despres said.
“But we’re excited, and everyone who comes across it seems to be excited, too.”
The pair also has a contractor, Matthew Panken, who helped design the company’s marketing and branding strategy alongside Grand Valley State University film graduate Keith Banger. The pair collaborate on projects through the Grandville-based company Evolution 6 Media.
Panken is filling the role of vice president of sales post-launch.
Home: Christmas lights; home theater, kitchen, bathroom and workshop cords; garden plants
Office: Computer, phone and ethernet cables; documents
Boat: Rigging ropes, electrical cords, fishing poles
Music and video: XLR cables, instrument strings, headphone cords
Camper/motorhome: Power cords, small appliances, ropes
Trade show/convention: Audiovisual cables, signs, documents