MOUNDRIDGE, Kan. – It’s not often that one gets to meet up with someone they’ve long admired. But maybe like-minded individuals are more likely to cross paths at some point in life. Such was the case when Grasshopper president Stan Guyer met up with inventor Dean Kamen at the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show in Las Vegas in October 2008.
Kamen is considered one of the top inventors and entrepreneurs of our time whose company is best known for inventing the iBot and Segway Human Transporter as well as other life-saving medical devices. Kamen is also the proud owner of a Grasshopper mower.
With a long line of enthusiasts waiting to speak with him after a pre-show speech he delivered, Kamen spent a few extra moments with Guyer when he learned they were from Grasshopper.
“I remember calling the Grasshopper Company on a New Year’s Eve Day, at an hour I didn’t really expect to find anyone there,” Kamen said. “To top it off, it was a lady who answered and I was doubtful she would have the product knowledge I wanted to know.” He didn’t realize that he was speaking with marketing director Ruthanne Stucky, and they spent a half hour discussing model features and specifications that led him to a buying decision. He was most interested in diesel fuel efficiencies and needed a snowthrower to keep his helipad clear for use. “Grasshopper is a fantastic product,” he said.
What impressed Guyer is Kamen’s down-to-earth attitude and appearance, dressed in blue jeans and combining a sense of humor with his passion for science in everyday life. Guyer feels that Kamen’s message needs to be heard loud and clear. “We must find a way to adjust our priorities. The need for engineers is growing at a time when many school districts across the country focus more funds on athletics than academics.”
Kamen founded the FIRST organization which sponsors several competitive scientific and robotic programs adopted in public and private schools and colleges. “Kids today need the opportunity to see world-class people who know how to build and invent stuff,” he said.
Among Kamen’s 450 patents are robotic limbs designed for amputees and kidney dialysis machines. He quipped tongue-in-cheek that the Segway is a product he loves to promote, while hoping that most people will never really need his other life-saving inventions. His fusion of science with down-to-earth common sense has led to his latest invention that holds promise to provide pure water to people living in remote, poor regions of the world. If this theme sounds familiar, remember that it was the Moridge portable crop dryer which also assisted remote regions of the world increase food supplies by harvesting crops early.
With a sense of pride that a scientific mind like Kamen’s would praise the Grasshopper design, Guyer felt the meeting was a real bonus of the show.
About Grasshopper The Grasshopper Company is a privately held corporation dedicated solely to the design and production of commercial and large-acreage mowing and grounds maintenance equipment. Grasshopper introduced the first zero-turn radius mower with dual swing-out levers in 1969, and other industry firsts include the first diesel-powered zero-turn radius mower in 1983 and the first electric-actuated fold-up mower deck in 2004. Based in Moundridge, Kan., the company distributes its products worldwide and is committed to lean and clean manufacturing practices reducing impact to the environment.