Everett inventor wants little hands away from hot appliances

By Christina Harper Herald Business Journal

It’s a scene that plays out in many homes every morning: A mother drying then styling her hair in the bathroom with a hot hairdryer and heated curling iron on the countertop.

Thirteen years ago, Julie Alexander, of Everett, was getting ready for work when her 3-year-old son Michael, as many children that age are, became inquisitive.

“He reached up and grabbed the cord,” said Rick Alexander, the boy’s father. “He got burned.”

The toddler was taken to the hospital and treated but the incident scared his parents and got Rick Alexander thinking. What could he do to make sure this didn’t happen again to his family or to others?

Rick Alexander, 64, is the creator of Cool Care hair appliance tool holders, a stainless steel holder that can sit on a countertop or mounts to the wall keeping hot tongs, dryers and flat irons out of children’s reach.

“I’ve had 100 percent feedback and no returns,” Rick Alexander said.

The idea is that hot appliances that normally sit on bathroom counters and tables can instead be placed in the stainless steel cylinder-shaped holder with wires tucked away from the edge of the worktop.

Using the Cool Care hair appliance tool holder means that little hands can’t reach the potentially dangerous heated metal and users grabbing the items are less likely to mistakenly reach out for or brush against their curling tongs and flat irons.

“Most companies don’t make them out of stainless steel,” Rick Alexander said. “The ventilator holes are so that the heat escapes.”

Rick Alexander, whose day job was a contractor carpenter, first made a makeshift holder before going on to having his product made in China where his wife has family.

“I sold them for 10 years on eBay and in catalogs,” Rick Alexander said.

It’s been a long, hard road trying to get his product in stores and on shelves.

“Big stores don’t want to deal with small companies,” Rick Alexander said.

Although there are similar products on the market, he won’t give up.

Safety is such a concern to Rick Alexander that when he got a letter from a woman whose house had burned down saying she wished she had his product before that incident, he sent her a free holder.

Sharon Vinderine, founder of the awards program Parent Tested Parent Approved, first saw Rick Alexander’s product when he submitted it in the hopes of earning one of the awards.

“It solves a problem,” Vinderine said via email. “I love anything that solves a problem which is why I have one of his Cool Cares in my bathroom and in my dressing room.”

Vinderine says that the product saves space and provides a spot for her hairdryer and her daughter’s curling iron.

Having it gives Vinderine peace of mind knowing that these items are not leaning up against her counter and possibly causing fires. They also are out of reach of children.

The hair appliance tool holder carries a lifetime guarantee and Rick Alexander has a patent pending for the Cool Care product.

“That’s why branding is so important,” Rick Alexander said. “People are not patent conscious.”

More than 5,000 units of the Cool Care hair appliance tool holder have been sold worldwide.

Rick Alexander is working with a distributor who works with beauty salons. He hopes to get his product into those businesses.

“It’s selling steady,” Rick Alexander said.