A Funnel That's Better Than Plastic By Mary Sedor
Article Date: 04-01-2009
Copyright(C) 2009 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
The Fast Funnel is an innovative, flat-folded product that prevents contamination.
From Nascar pit crews to field service mechanics in the construction equipment industry, the Fast Funnel is making fluid delivery cleaner and faster.
Folded flat and made of heavy-duty card stock, the Fast Funnel is the only funnel designed to provide a clean and convenient delivery of liquids or powders during pouring. Made of paper and intended for a single use, Fast Funnels are also biodegradable. The interior of the funnels are coated with an organic coating that mats down the paper and resists soak through.
A folded paper funnel may sound counterintuitive, but cocreator Ted Salani says once you use one, you’ll never go back to plastic funnels.
“We have an extraordinarily high customer retention rate,” said Salani. “Our customers say they wouldn’t use anything else. Just tear off the top, pop it open and you have a full-sized funnel that’s always clean until you’re ready to use it.”
Building a Better Mousetrap
Fast Funnel was created by brothers Ted and Larry Salani, co-owners of S&S Concepts. The brothers began working on the funnel design in 2000, but the Fast Funnel really was the culmination of a lifetime of tinkering.
“When other kids were out playing soccer we were in the garage with our heads under the hood or hands in an engine,” he said. “We grew up tinkering with machines and inventing.”
The idea for Fast Funnel evolved over the course of a few years. The brothers were working on a consulting job and began toying with the idea of another product – a funnel incorporated into the packaging of a quart of oil. As they began thinking about funnels, they realized that the plastic funnel has some inherent design problems.
“We had an idea for a better way of pouring and started working on the concept for Fast Funnel,” said Ted Salani. “What you typically find when you grab a funnel is that it’s dirty,” he said. “Plastic funnels have hard particle and fluid contamination on them. You might say that you clean out your funnels, but it’s really rare that you’ll ever find one that is cleaned out from flute to neck without contamination.”
The brothers drew upon their backgrounds – Larry is a graphic designer and Ted is a mechanical engineer – to create this clean, universal product known today as the Fast Funnel. S&S Concepts was founded in 2001, and the Fast Funnel was launched in 2003.
Key Features and Benefits
The fact that these funnels are always clean is a key benefit for the CE industry, says Salani.
“If you’re out in the field or bringing equipment back into the shop, dirt and contamination are probably a real issue with a lot of the maintenance that goes on,” he said. “Fast Funnels are always clean, they are very easy to store, and you never have to worry about storing it or cleaning it out – you just toss it out when you’re finished with it. It’s simple and easy.”
Salani says CE dealers can benefit from the time- and space-saving funnels that also ensure a very clean maintenance process.
“In the heavy equipment industry it’s really significant from the perspective of dealers because they have field service fleets and take field service trucks out to the equipment to do repair or maintenance on equipment,” said Salani. “The feedback we’ve gotten is that these guys don’t have a whole lot of space on their field service trucks and our funnels are small and easy to store and they don’t have to try to re-store them when they’re done – they can just throw them away. We think it’s a benefit for dealers to use our funnels themselves or stock them on their shelves for their customers to buy.”
The fact that the funnels are made of paper are not cause for concern. Salani says dealers will not have to worry about liquids soaking through the funnels.
“For any given pour, especially if we’re talking about carbon-based fluids like transmission or brake fluid, we’ve never had a failure during a pour (such as the fluid soaking through),” said Salani.
Four Fast Funnel sizes are available: mini, standard, professional and extended. The mini comes as a single funnel and is approximately 20 percent smaller than the standard Fast Funnel. It is designed for small inlet openings and holds 6.29 ounces. The standard and professional funnels both come in three-packs and hold 8.5 ounces and 32 ounces, respectively.
The extended size, which can hold 53 ounces, is manufactured with an extra thick coated stock paper that provides stability and yet allows for flexibility. When opened, the attached header is designed to fold down to serve as a handle to assist pouring.
“Our four sizes can accommodate applications ranging from refilling a hydraulic cylinder all the way up to adding fluid or oil to a differential,” said Salani.
S&S Concepts is finding that there is no limit to the uses for Fast Funnels. In fact, right now a soldier in Iraq could be using a Fast Funnel to add fluid to a Jeep or even add protein powder to his canteen. Salani says that the funnels are used anywhere from assisting law enforcement in drug testing kits, to lab and medical uses and in equine medical care.
“We’re learning about more uses every day,” said Salani. “That’s one of the interesting things – you never know where we’re going to be used next.”
In terms of the CE industry, Salani says that equipment dealers as well as the end users will easily find applications for the Fast Funnels.
“One of the key benefits to our product is the versatility,” he said. “If you have it on your truck or in your dealership there will be a wide variety of pouring applications you’re going to cover.”
S&S Concepts is looking for a global distribution network. Salani says the types of dealers interested in selling Fast Funnels are the ones that are at the cutting edge and looking for unique products to help them solve their customers’ problems.
“Especially in these times, customers are hard to please; they are demanding and they don’t just give you their loyalty – you have to earn it,” he said. “One of the ways dealers can earn customer loyalty is by having the latest and greatest or something they haven’t seen before. The Fast Funnel is one of those products.”
In terms of price points, Salani says that the Fast Funnel Standard typically costs about $1.50 for three funnels and the professional about $2.10 for three funnels.
“When you break it down, the cost per pour is not really that expensive when you’re putting in $25 or $30 worth of high-end synthetic lubricant,” said Salani. “We can’t see a situation where a dealer has someone who walks in to buy synthetic lubricant where he can’t sell them a few packs going out the door. It’s a great impulse item and once people start using them the tendency is to be a continuing customer.”
Salani says dealer margins are high with the added bonus that the funnels are consumable products, meaning the customer will eventually come back to buy some more, he said.
“We’re not experts necessarily in the day-to-day service requirements in the heavy equipment industry, but we know that good maintenance practices always start with clean tools,” said Salani. “It doesn’t matter what type of lubricant or how much you paid for it, you’re throwing money away if you poured it through a dirty funnel because that contamination is power-robbing and life-stealing; but that’s not the case with our clean, single-use Fast Funnels.”
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