New Device Created Following Shoulder Injury
Tom DeBellis (“Tommy Dee”) had spent his entire life in the electrical trade
Now in his fifties, the career that had been very good to him for so long became more challenging. The physical demands from a professional life pulling wires, lifting piping, connecting junction boxes and moving large cable reels had already taken a toll. Five shoulder surgeries couldn’t repair the long term damage he was facing and a shoulder replacement surgery was scheduled.
The placement of junction boxes in ceilings, conduits in gutters & panels, light standards, and underground conduits puts your body in an awkward, unnatural position when trying to pull, causing excessive strain on the shoulders, arms, back and wrists.
According to the US Department of Labor, over 31,000 workmen are injured each year from stress and strain injuries caused by lifting, reaching, pulling and bending. This is such an important issue that OSHA has even provided very specific guidelines.
Although 80% of all wire pulled on a job site is branch circuit wire, there actually wasn’t a tool available for the smaller pulls. The large tuggers were impractical so hand pulling was the fallback.
So Tom got to work to create a puller tool that could help him and others. He knew that the tool had to be convenient and easy enough to use. It had to be powerful but also hand held.
For months he explored different design ideas. Hand cranking (like a fishing reel) wasn’t practical and was physically demanding. The basic tugger design made sense but it needed power.
After extensive search and experimentation he discovered the perfect combination of speed, torque and energy transfer using a unique, patented gear and a cordless drill. Field tests had to follow so Tom and his partner Joe Gerardo shared their prototype around the electrical community.
Most guys thought it was a good idea but were skeptical at first. After all, how could a hand held puller powered by a cordless drill pull long and heavy wires? The skepticism disappeared when Joe threw a rope to a 250 pound electrician, told him to sit on the floor, and then pulled him across the room using just the puller!
It worked! And they believed.
After field tests and minor modifications, the tool did exactly what it was supposed to do and even more. Tom discovered that the gearing would deliver up to 1000# of torque and could easily handle multiple combined homeruns of branch circuit, as well as smaller to medium sized feeder circuits.
The tool was debuted at the 2017 NECA show in Seattle and has is now being shared with distributors throughout the U.S.
”Distributors are finding that there is no current competition for a tool such as this,” said Mark DeBellis, Vice President. “There are very few products that are truly brand new and provide the distributor the chance to get a brand new item into distribution and generate completely incremental sales. So many products introduced today are replacements for others.”
Current distributors that have brought on the product include Walter’s Wholesale, Holt Electrical, Mayer Electrical in the Southwest, Nedco, California Service Tool, Franks, North Coast Electrical. EPI is supporting all distributors with promotional counter cards that help communicate the benefits of the new tool and feature a live video link to show the product in action.
Tom’s goal is to have the product distributed in every state and available to every single electrician that may be at risk for injury. “If I can help somebody extend their career and limit the likelihood for injury I’ll feel we’ve been successful,” Tom explains. “Every truck should have this product in their tool line up.”
Tom also encourages his fellow electricians to follow their hunches and think outside the box. “The best ideas come from the field where the guys that are doing the work build creative solutions every day. Keep your eyes out for opportunities and challenges that can improve our trade. New ideas are borne every day. Maybe your idea is the next one,” he explained.
Electrical Product Innovation, Inc.
Video links to testimonials and field use