Monday, August 18, 2014

George Ballas, Inventor of the Weed-Eater

You are just one thought away from an invention that could be very useful to the world!   For instance, the weed-eater was invented by George Ballas in Houston, Texas in 1971.  How did he get the idea?  He took his car through an automatic car wash and as he watched the large round brushes against his car, it gave him an idea.  He went home and attached some fishing lines to a tin can and hooked it up to a lawn edger.  After failing to get toolmakers to invest any capital for his invention. he came up with the money himself.  By 1977, the company was worth $80 million.

Like most inventors, this man had his regular day job. George Ballas owned a large dance studio in Houston with over 100 instructors.  His son Corky Ballas is a ballroom dancer and has won several Latin dance championship titles.  George's grandson, Mark Ballas, is a name that you might know from "Dances With The Stars"! 
George Ballas died in 2011 at the age of 85.  I wonder what it would have been like for him to see his invention become so commonly used by millions. And all of that came from his observation of watching those brushes in an automatic car wash .Of course, the idea itself is wonderful, but you must follow through and invent something!   Do that for me, would you?  Thank you! And the world will thank you too!  And hey, if you make money from it too, I would not begrudge you that either! 
 

28 comments:

  1. Kay- Here is an idea. A hand held miniature flea vacuum so you no longer have to use those expensive and poisonous drops on your cat or dog!

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    1. I like that idea. Now, develop it further and all the cats and dogs will love you.

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  2. This was very informative. I had no idea (nor did I wonder to be honest) where the weed eater was invented. Thanks for the lesson.

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    1. I only just found this out myself. Inventors are fascinating to me, many times the inventions come from just a simple idea, but with a different way of looking at something.

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  3. I don't think I've ever seen anyone using a weed eater here; maybe they are just not as common. When my Dad works in the garden, he gets the weeds out with his hands - there aren't that many to begin with, I suppose :-)
    But it is interesting to learn about how someone got their inspiration from such an everyday thing as a car wash, and I am glad for him that he followed through with his idea and became a rich man in an honest way. How those people who turned him down must have felt later!

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    1. We must have all your weeds in Georgia! I really prefer to have a much more natural look, it's better for the birds! Still, I understand how people use weed-eaters, edgers, mowers, and blowers for their perfect lawns and how important this is to them.
      And yes, imagine how those companies felt when the weed-eater took off!

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  4. Interestingly I'd never heard the name weed-eater so I was fascinated only to discover that it's what in the UK we call a strimmer and in New Zealand a weed-whacker. I I occasionally wonder how names get altered so much as products travel from place to place.

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    1. Interesting to me, since the man was American and called it that, I wonder why the name didn't travel to other English speaking countries? That's language for you!

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  5. I'm always amazed at how things come to be and the people that invented them. Some of the simplest things turn out to make millions. I'm not an inventor in any respect but am thankful for those that are.

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    1. I am amazed by inventors, just as I am by artists, songwriters, authors, and anyone else who creates something new! And like you, I am thankful for them and I count YOU as among one of those creators. x

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  6. A story I never knew, though I remember when weed wackers were very new. I'm sorry for those short-sighted tool makers who couldn't see the benefits of his idea, but happy for Mr. Ballas that he did it himself!

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    1. What if he had given up? He could have, but he BELIEVED and his belief and confidence paid off, so that is what I love about his invention!

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  7. Gardeners and lawn enthusiasts the world over thank him.

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    1. I could have shown you my perfect lawn...if I had one! HA!!
      Our lawn is for the birds, and I mean that literally.

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  8. I was wracking my brains trying to remember what they call those in the UK and Down Under - luckily GB answered the question for me!

    How fun it would be to invent something really useful that would also net a decent profit.... :)

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    1. Yes, that Graham can always be relied on to tell me what is what in New Zealand AND the UK!!
      Hey Sue! I KNOW!! You could invent some kind of new crochet hook or tool, you know you could....and I can say that I inspired you! Let me know!

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  9. Thank you, Mr. Ballas! That's an important tool on our ranch!

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    1. Oh! I bet it is on your ranch!
      Hope you like this story about him!

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  10. It seems like such an easy idea!

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    1. I know, John, so why don't YOU think of an easy idea? Come on, you know you could!

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  11. It would be nice to invent something, and i'll keep looking for that big idea!

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    1. Keep looking and I just know that you are thankful for the invention of Ed Lowe's...I bet you know what he invented!!

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  12. I wish someone would invent a cure for stupidity. :)

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    1. Oh, me too and I would take a big dose of it on a daily basis!!

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  13. Thanks for sharing George's story. It certainly pays to be observant and to belief in yourself; especially when others don't want to initially.

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    1. Hey, glad you liked this story too. Belief and faith, both more important than people think!

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  14. I wish I'd invented Cats Eyes in roads or those plastic ball throwers for dogs. The latter an idea borrowed from Aboriginal throwing sticks presumably.... but I'm too dim to think of anything original!
    Wah!!

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    1. You see, you can get an idea from something that has been around for a long time! I challenge you! Look around you and see if you can't apply a new idea to something that is tried and true. Let me know!

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