Driven to Invention
Walt Clavier’s wife and co-driver was the divine inspiration behind his cab window screens. She knew that idling their engine was not cost effective, and she was sick of the engine vibrations when she was trying to sleep.
“She told me if I didn’t make a homemade screen she wouldn’t go out [on the road] with me anymore,” says Clavier, a Delaware driver for North American Van Lines. “I took a weekend and made a crude one. Lots of truckers commented on it, so I sat down one weekend and made a drawing.”
The drawing evolved and in 1988 Clavier got a patent for $9,000. The molds to make the screens, however, were much more expensive.
“We put about $105,000 in the project without making any money,” he says. “Now we’ve sold 500,000 of the screens.”
Since idling wastes a gallon of fuel an hour, Clavier says the screens will save drivers money. “They sell for $33 a set and will pay for themselves overnight,” he says. “Most people don’t think about it, but when you’re idling, you’re polluting. In New England, you can’t idle more than five minutes. In L.A. and some port cities you can’t idle more than a half hour. Just walk through a truckstop – that’s a lot of pollution. The screens shut that down.”
The 69-year-old inventor recently decided to sell his idea to Patented Products, a company that also sells bunk warmers. Clavier still gets a royalty for the screens, which are available in many truckstops.
For more information call (800-548-4013) or visit www.breezewayscreens.com.
Abbondandolo’s shades come in five different designs. “My ‘Rebel Girl’ and the ‘Pride Eagle’ are my best sellers, but the ‘No Lot Lizards’ and ‘POW-MIA’ also sell very well,” he says.
Heart of a Clown
Driver using truck shade profits to help terminally ill kids
Thirty years ago, Mike Abbondandolo was at a truckstop and noticed two men in another truck looking around with binoculars. Not thinking anything of it, he went to sleep. He woke up to see the same men in his cab, trying to steal his wallet.
“They were waiting until they didn’t see movement in a truck so that they could break in and steal stuff,” Abbondandolo says. “I started hanging up T-shirts on hangers in my windows for privacy.”