Catching long, arching spirals from quarterback Danny Woodhead in the 2001 Coast Union football season was “really fun, even though we lost every game,” said former Broncos wide receiver Kyle Sumner. Indeed, the Broncos were 0-10 that year and yet, “I had so much fun I wish I had gone out all four years,” Sumner said.
Now, 13-plus years later, Sumner hopes to catch lightning in a bottle with his pragmatic invention called “Hero Holds,” using miniature magnet technology and adhesive to facilitate the hanging of prints, posters and photographs without punching holes in walls.
It would be remarkable to meet someone who could honestly say they’d never used thumbtacks, push pins, masking tape or nails to attach artwork or photos to a wall at some point. No doubt there are renters here in Cambria who were denied a full refund of the “cleaning fee” they paid in advance because of too many holes in walls.
This essentially was the issue that motivated Sumner. He was not out to save the world, at least not now, yet he was determined to come up with a product that would eliminate damage to walls.
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“Hero Holds rescues walls from holes, tears, scrapes and other misfortunes from inferior wall-hanging systems,” Sumner said.
Hero Holds adhesive sticks firmly on brick, drywall, concrete, wood, glass and other materials, according to Sumner’s website. He asserts that the adhesive (3M “magic strip tape”) peels off without difficulty and leaves no residue.
A small magnet is embedded in the adhesive; when the adhesive strips are positioned on the wall and the corners of the poster are placed over the magnets, the second Hero Hold magnets are placed on the front side of the poster at the corners, and the decorative item is firmly in place.
Sumner has a provisional patent (“patent pending”), which means no one can copy his product while he is raising the money he needs ($4,500) to invest in a “nonprovisional patent”; he has until May of this year to file for his nonprovisional patent.
He is using the online fundraising site Kickstarter to raise money for the patent costs and for the materials to produce more product; as of Friday, Feb. 20, he had raised more than $4,000.
After high school graduation, Sumner said, he “had no idea what my career would look like,” but he knew it involved higher education.
He graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in forestry and worked as a firefighter/emergency medical technician for the U.S. Forest Service for two years and with Cal Fire for two years.
Following his firefighting career, he did “what I always knew I wanted to do — start a rock band.” It was called The Clear and played California rock. “We recorded a CD and did live shows all over San Luis Obispo County. Overall, it was a successful project,” Sumner said.
But few musicians — Sumner included — survive financially on local gigs, so the guitarist/vocalist took a part-time job with BevMo in San Luis Obispo, a wine, beer and spirits specialty store. His management training at BevMo led him to his present position as manager of a BevMo store in Ventura.
How did he evolve from student athlete, university graduate, firefighter, musician and retailer to a greenhorn inventor? Did his teachers at Coast Union encourage him specifically to pursue this career angle?
No, he insists, but he recalls that Coast Union geometry teacher Hiram Johnson was “amazing, wise, and supportive” of Sumner’s ideas. And ASB teacher Nancy Thompson “relentlessly encouraged me to think critically.” (Sumner was ASB treasurer his senior year).
“I was able to do my dream of a band and at the same time start a career in retail management.” And, he adds, “I had always wanted to come up with new solutions for old problems. I’ve never been the person to just reach for the same old toolbox.”
One “toolbox” he developed in high school — he played golf and basketball all four years and one season of football at Coast — was a passion for sports that continues to run through his veins all these years later.
He is a member of the San Luis Obispo Ballerz — a competitive unicycle basketball team that won a bronze medal at the world unicycling championships in Montreal in August.
Although Sumner hasn’t announced a “bucket list” for future invention ideas, he does hope that when his Hero Holds product begins to attract attention, and he gets some sales going, his “next step” will be to have Hobby Lobby, Bed Bath & Beyond, Michael’s and Target selling the product for him.
That, of course, will come after sufficient numbers of folks catch on to the idea that punching holes in walls could become a thing of the past.