Local inventor invents cement mixing solution
By Laurie Gordon
SUSSEX COUNTY--A Sussex County-based fence company's owner was frustrated with the process of mixing cement for projects.
“There just had to be a better way,” Troy Yanoss said.
Now, after a lot of trial and error to perfect a super fast, super easy-to-use tool, Yanoss is selling his patented creation all over including through Home Depot.
It all started with his fence company, TNT Fence Company, which was established in 1989 and he owns with his wife, Rita. The company is dedicated to providing quality fence installations. The company has grown over the years and offers a wide variety of fence styles in an assortment of materials creating and designing select wood fences using the finest lumber and materials. In the fence business, mixing concrete is a daily necessity, and the faster and more frequently and effectively a company can produce it, the better poised that fence business is to remain competitive in business.
“We had been working on a really tough project with steep side slopes and the only way we could get the concrete in the hole was via five gallons pails with concrete we mixed in a standard concrete mixer,” Yanoss said. “This too was a struggle and we started carrying the bags up and mixed the concrete in the pails near the hole. We tried several methods using chain link pipe until we got to what we have now.”
And just like that, Yanoss had a new invention: a tool that allowed them to set three fence posts in less then three minutes.
“The real 'ah ha' moment was pouring the correct amount of water in the bucket first and dumping concrete in the bucket slowly while the tool was going back and forth thus creating a perfect mix,” Yanoss said. “By putting the pre-measured amount of water in the bucket first you didn’t have to worry about having the concrete too runny which would give you a weak mix of concrete or too dry that would make it impossible to mix.” He added, “Using the Mortrex Mixer (their name for the tool) quickly became our first choice to mix concrete with because it is small, light easy to clean up and we could mix a batch in less then a minute.”
All you need is a five-gallon pail, the tool and your all set. There are no cords or need for a big clumsy, expensive mixer.
The Mortrex didn't just happen over night. There was considerable trial and error to get to the point of “the perfect mix” and there were many prototypes along the way.
“Each time, we slimmed down the weight of the tool,” Yanoss said. “Originally, the tool was welded from heavy chainlink fence pipes. Now it is lightweight square steel. Once we started using the bottom paddle for our water measurements it just started clicking, eventually leading to pre-measured water marks on the paddle for 40lbs, 60lbs and 80lbs bags of concrete . Through the different prototypes we had the perfect testing grounds by using the tool daily in the fence business.”
Originally, Yanoss produced the tool here in the county but as demand grew they had to make changes so now use a facility in Ohio for production. And then there was the process of getting a patent.
“The patent process was long and expensive,” Yanoss said. “We had to make sure there was nothing else like it and if it was somewhat similar you had to prove why it was different. I recall it having similarities to a egg beater in one case from the late 1800’s which seemed like a stretch to me. After multiple reviews against all other patents, it was determined to be a unique, new item.”
Yanoss grew up in Sparta on Lake Mohawk and went to high school at Northwest Christian, in Lafayette, when they still had a high school component. It was there he met his wife and business partner, Rita.
“I actually got my start in the fence industry through her brother. I worked for him in 1986 as an installer of cedar fencing from the former Westwood Fences in Sussex, New Jersey. Demand for more installers grew at Westwood so I started installing for them with my own crew. With encouragement from my family, I legally formed and registered my first business: TNT FENCE CO. in March of 1989.”
As to the name for Mortrex, Yanoss said he and his wife kicked around a lot of names and Mortrex just seemed to have the right ring to it. The product was selling well and it was time to explore what would be involved in getting a deal with one of the big home companies.
“Getting a deal with Home Depot was a long road,” Yanoss said. “I started with booths at the Fence Shows and Hardware and Tool trade shows. I demonstrated at National Hardware show , Orgil , House Hasson and World of Concrete in Vegas. All the trade shows were stepping stones at one point or another to get to where I am now. It wasn’t the show itself sometimes, but it was the people you met on the showroom floors and the networking . At the moment we only sell to Home Depot online but of course welcome the day they decide to bring it to their stores . Amazon has also been a great way to sell as they are a premier online giant.”
Yanoss attributes most of his connections to Bill Dye whom he met at his very first show in Boston-at the New England Grows Show. “He saw the potential of the mixer early on and was instrumental in recommending the best shows to attend .His knowledge of the business, savvy and countless connections brought me right to the owners of Quikrete who are interested but we couldn't quite get a deal together as of yet.”
The Mortrex Concrete Mixing Tool replaces the need for big messy wheelbarrows which are cumbersome to maneuver across rough terrain and are impossible to transport up and down stairs. The Mortrex tool, when used with a five-gallon bucket, allows you to mix concrete in less than a half minute and easily carry it to where you need to go. No matter where you take it, you will not need electric or batteries to power it
For further information and to order, visit: http://www.mortrex.com or http://www.homedepot.com/p/Mortrex-Concrete-Mixing-Tool-201/204676674?keyword=mortrex. You can also find Mortrex on Facebook at: . https://www.facebook.com/pg/Mortrex