Fall Creek Inventor Wins Grand Prize

John Gustafson, winner of the $5,000 grand-prize for the 2013 Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation’s annual Idea Challenge, thanks the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultants he worked with for encouraging him to enter the competition. His winning product idea, the Thor Mini Quick-Tach™ is a universal quick-attach system for sub-compact utility tractor attachments.

      John Gustafson

Gustafson plans to use the Idea Challenge winnings to advance his product idea to the marketplace. The product is the latest patented attachment adapter developed through his company, Thor Attachments LLC. Gustafson came up with his business idea when he couldn’t easily use skid steer attachments on his tractor.


“My goal was to make tractors more versatile and easier to use,” he explains.


Gustafson developed a business plan and gained essential business ownership skills as a participant in the SBDC’s Entrepreneurial Training Program, a program offered statewide. Gustafson attended the course through his local SBDC at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Course instructor and then local SBDC director, Jim Mishefske, connected Gustafson with Roger Gehring, a consultant at the SBDC specialty center at UW-Stout, the Center for Innovation and Development (CID).


“Roger has been very helpful assisting me in developing presentations to prospective manufacturers and licensees,” says Gustafson. “He also helped me with strategic planning, where to best focus my energy and how to make industry contacts.”


Gustafson appreciates the accessibility, support and business expertise he found at the SBDC and the CID. “He [Gehring] and UW-Stout have a reputation for innovation. That opens doors and lends credibility,” says Gustafson. “If he calls someone on my behalf, I can walk in with a level of confidence.”


Thor Attachment adapters come in various sizes and strengths for 18 to 150 horse power tractors. Thor offers several Quick-Tach models with a variety of built-in features that can also be used on skid steers, wheel loaders, excavators and more.


With four patents and two pending patents, Gustafson continues to focus on innovation. He hopes to maintain sales growth, form additional alliances and continue to roll out new products. “In the business plan, we had to state how we would like to be identified in the marketplace. We would like Thor Attachments to be identified as an innovator.”


Learn more at www.thorattachments.com


Learn more about the Wisconsin SBDC at UW-Eau Claire.


Learn more about the Center for Innovation and Development.


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