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As a journeyman plumber, David Hornstein (PBP ’03) has had his share of ripping out old toilets. The heavy lifting, splattered toilet water and soggy socks have always bothered him, so Hornstein came up with a tool called The Trunk that sucks out residual toilet water and blows it neatly down the toilet drain. Now he’s leveraging his experience as a Calgary innovator and entrepreneur to help others evolve the tools of their trades.
Hornstein knows it takes more than a good idea to come out with a great product. “I had the concept [for The Trunk] for a decade before I really started to act on it,” he says. Focused on his young family and on getting his company, Aquality Plumbing and Heating Inc., off the ground, Hornstein didn’t think he had the time or the resources to invest in the idea. But, haunted by the prospect of giving up on it and suffering a lifetime of regret, he decided to “make a push and see what happens.”
Hornstein partnered up with Micah Libin, a lawyer friend and investor, and together they forged a path from prototype development through patent law and manufacturing. “We’re very well balanced as a company,” says Hornstein. “When a door’s slammed we’ve always found one of us has been able to push through to get it opened.”
It certainly helps when you knock on the right doors. The producers of the Canadian reality TV show The Property Brothers liked The Trunk enough to give it to homeowners renovating an older home in an episode of their show, slated for W Network in Canada and HGTV throughout the States. And a recent pitch on Dragons’ Den is expected to air this spring. “We hope it does. More than a million people would see our product faster than anything we could do locally.”
With an eye to leveraging their hard-earned lessons, and promoting further advancements for industry and the trades, Hornstein and Libin have started a company called Platypus Tools Inc. “It’s a venue for like-minded tradespeople to come to for help developing their ideas and manufacturing,” explains Hornstein. “We’re hoping to build a line of tools designed by people in the trades for people of the trades.”
Hornstein’s intrepid approach to life as a husband, a father, a plumber, an inventor and a mentor (he’s also a dog whisperer, but that’s another story) recently garnered him a Top 40 Under 40 spot in Avenue magazine. He attributes his ongoing success to trusting his instincts, building momentum and maintaining a healthy balance between work and his family life.
Written by Julie Sengl | Photos by Brian Buchsdruecker