Fairport, N.Y. -- Their product just recently hit the market, its first ads won’t run until next month – yet it’s found customers already – as far away as Washington State.
Our latest “Made In Our Hometown” subject is at Marc’s Studio and the Turk Hill Craft School in Fairport. It’s a product that could help the careers of thousands of craftsmen.
Then there’s pottery enthusiasts like Patrick Vitalone. He’s had to cut back in recent years because the physical work has caused problems: “I can feel the stress in my shoulders. I feel it in my arms,” he said.
The basic work of centering the clay to create different objects can lead to injury, including carpal tunnel and tendon damage. That’s where Marc Gaiger comes in. The master metalworker created a new centering tool called “The Strong Arm.”
For hobbyists like Vitalone (and for professionals), the tool offers huge advantages. “Right now, I have absolutely zero pain in my hands and arms,” Vitalone reports. “And it will allow you to throw larger, faster, and -- and this is very important for professional potters -- consistently."
Gaiger has sold 20 Strong Arm tools for $279 apiece, before most of the industry knows the tool exists. He’s heard from potters and craftsmen across the country – from the Turk Hill School all the way to the West Coast. “People who have had problems with their hands and back, it's been a career saver," he said.
With the early success of the Strong Arm, it's a real question about what happens if a corporation offers to buy the concept and start producing it on an assembly line overseas somewhere. Gaiger has a simple answer to that question: "Absolutely not. No way. Right here (pointing to his Buy American shirt)… that's the important thing. The people that are using these are American craftsmen. They hand craft what they make, and when they pull this thing out of the box, they'll say, 'wow, this was made for me by another artist, another craftsman. It's American made and whoever made it really cared.'"