Vertically Hanging Paint Tray US Patents 569,068,603,117, 777,4893B2 

PaintSmart-Trayz was created by Carolyn Keane and was the inspiration for It was such a great idea and was manufactured and taken to market. As an award winning product in the US and in Canada, It was featured in the DIY channel and on QVC.

Carolyn created the PaintSmart-Trayz as a way to have painting tools with you as you are up on a ladder. She was at the top of the ladder painting a house and dropped her paint brush. There had to be a better way to paint from a ladder. Prototypes were made by hand in her garage, research was done on materials and manufacturers. Over 3 years, patents were applied for, prototypes were made and the product was introduced at the National Hardware Show. If one major retailer would order, she would be set. A meeting with buyers at Home Depot’s headquarters said they would order and do a test market once it was manufactured. Sherwin Williams was doing a test of 80 stores.With promises of orders, money was raised and manufacturing began. With the help of Charlie Koch, a master at prototypes and manufacturing, the product was made in the USA. 

With the exposure at the Hardware show, it was on the DIY network Cool Tools with Chris Gundy. Orders started. Needing more exposure, Carolyn took the product to QVC. The product was tested and approved. Not one piece was returned (the average is 19%). The requirements to be on the show are beyond your imagination including learning how to present on TV. So many lessons were learned about materials to use, packaging, supply chains, licensing deals, distribution and more.                                                

As a new product it won the Retailers Choice award as well as many other awards in the US & Canada. With the momentum, a global company licensed the product. Giving them the rights as well as orders, it should have been a done deal. The company sat on the product and never produced any. After 2 years of inactivity, Carolyn cancelled the deal. 

Carolyn’s 1st invention

Success Analysis

Why didn’t PaintSmart-Trayz succeed? Three reasons:

  1. Cost was too high, profit margin too low. Paint trays are thought of as disposable items. No one wants to clean them. At a cost of $5.00 to make and ship, they would have to retail for $19.99. In 2008, the economy tanked and the cost of plastic went up too high to make a profit. With disposable ones selling for under $10, it couldn’t compete.
  2. The size and configuration of the PaintSmart-Trayz was costly to ship and took up a lot of shelf space in stores. Shelf space costs money.
  3. During the time of the licensing deal, several ladder companies came out with their own version of the hanging tray. They liked the product enough to knock it off. With their deep pockets, they were able to go around my patents and make them. Home Depot did the same thing. It was also copied in South America. Without a worldwide patent, nothing could be done to stop them. The product was a success for other companies, just not the way Carolyn had envisioned it.