Jaypro Sports LLC Executive Vice President Bill Wild likes innovation.
Wild, who runs the Waterford-based business that manufactures large sports equipment like basketball hoops and goal posts, is always looking for different ways to make things better, like his company’s new invention for a better transportable volleyball poll. And he also knows that the new focus today is on everything being sanitized, from the floors to the mats to the uniforms.
“The new thing is everybody wants everything sanitized or sterilized, and rightfully so, to avoid spreading along diseases,” Wild said. “They sanitize everything, the courts, the mats, everything. But they never do anything with the balls.”
So when an orthopedic surgeon from California showed Wild and his team his prototype for a sports ball sanitizer four years ago, it was a perfect match. Wild was a little tepid on the idea at first, but four years later is completely committed and will be ready to launch the “Germ Ninja” at the end of this month.
“Four yeas ago, I wasn’t so sure,” Wild said. “Now I’m sure. We are really excited about it.”
Four years ago, Jaypro came across plans for a machine by a Californian orthopedic surgeon that used ultraviolent lights to inspect and then would clean sports balls, like soccer or volleyballs. The surgeon came up with the idea after watching his daughter, a top high school volleyball player, and her team sanitize everything except for the volleyballs while playing the sport.
“He’s an orthopedic surgeon, so he knows everything has to be sanitized or sterilized,” Wild said. “And he sees the team sanitizing everything except the ball. And he sees them doing this (Wild pretended to lick his hand and touch the ball, then wipe his jersey and touch the ball) and it never gets sanitized.”
Jaypro agreed to work with the surgeon. To help push things along, they acquired a $100,000 matching grant (meaning the business had to put up $100,00 as well) from the state to research the idea, he said.
“We are just waiting for the molds to come out,” Wild said. “We should have it ready by the end of June.”
Jaypro has finally decided on a name for the machine, the Germ Ninja, Wild said. The machine is about the size of a grill, he said.
How It Sells
The United States Volleyball Team has already committed to buy two Germ Ninjas, one for its training facility in California and one for its Olympic training facility in London, Wild said. The first two Germ Ninja’s will go to them, and hopefully that will spread the word, he said.
“They are internationally-known coaches,” Wild said. “Hopefully them just vouching for the (Germ Ninja) will give it a boost.”
Wild is also hoping to sell the Germ Ninjas to elementary schools across the country to clean their sport balls, like kick balls. The item sells for $2,800, he said.