thrasher-fix-logo

 

 

 

 

**NOTICE**  We hold two US patents for our repair kits. Patent US9126291B1 and US9744627B1. Notice to all manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. We are pursuing legal action against any patent infringement. We advise you stop selling immediately. We are currently working to provide details on becoming a licensed dealer in order to legally sell our products.  **NOTICE**

Today I am writing as a small business owner, inventor, and entrepreneur. I am hoping you will read this as a consumer and as an individual who stands outside of big business. I am speaking for the small percentage of people who step outside of the comfort of the 9 to 5 and into the unknown, often uneasy, small business lifestyle. My first invention came out of necessity rather than from a plan to be an inventor. This is my story of how it all started.

I was attending Florida State University seeking a degree in finance and accounting. I was living primarily on student loans and cash I would win from the occasional beer pong tournament victory. My vehicle at the time was a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The jeep was totaled when I bought it but I did the body and paint work myself with pieced together junkyard parts to make it whole again. The jeep served me well but had one major downfall. The door handles inside were either completely broken or beginning to fall apart. The problem was not only a nuisance but it was a safety issue as well in the event of an accident. Two of the doors had to be opened from the outside handle leaving you trapped inside if the windows were up.

I researched my problem online and found the issue was actually very common. I was initially excited to see it was not just my vehicle and thought, “there must already be a solution”. There was in fact a repair from the dealer. The dealerships solution to the problem was replacing the entire door panel. The repair was estimated at $600 to $800 per door and the parts were back ordered for months. This was not only outrageous but an impossible amount to afford as a college student and an unreasonable amount to pay for someone who could afford the hefty price tag. This I found was the ONLY option to make my jeep safe again.

I immediately began to think of ways I could fix the problem myself. My jeep had one door handle inside that was not broken yet, just slightly cracked. I took the risk and disassembled the one functional door I had left. I was extremely careful in figuring out how the handle operated and how it was affixed to the door panel. I found the door handle to be part of a housing and it was in fact the handle housing that was failing. I decided to proceed in removing the last functional housing I had. The sweat was literally dripping from my brow at this point, knowing if I messed up I would not have any working door handles. I discovered the handle housing was permanently attached to the door panel. The manufacturer plastic welded the housing to the door panel. This is why the dealer replaces the entire panel as its solution. Disregarding the manufacturers design, I proceeded to remove the housing. I drilled out the plastic welds being careful not to break the fragile, disintegrating part.

Once I had the handle separated from the panel I was able to see the design was quite simple. I consulted my father who owns a custom motorcycle seat and upholstery shop. I used to make custom seat pans (the frame of the seat that holds the cushion) out of PVC sheeting for his business. We would form the plastic with heat to fit a particular bike perfectly. Taking this knowledge, we proceeded to make a mold of the still intact handle. We used fiberglass bondo to make a 2-part mold after covering the handle housing in clear plastic wrap and pam. Yes, we raided the kitchen for supplies.

The mold came out perfect! The handle housing however broke into multiple pieces when we removed it. There was no turning back, either we fix this or my vehicle would be completely broken. We drilled out the necessary holes and used a Dremel to remove any defects in the fiberglass mold.

Using the same PVC sheeting used on the custom seat pans, we cut a piece to the appropriate size, and using a toaster oven we heated the plastic until it was malleable. Taking the now pliable piece of plastic we pressed it between the 2-piece mold. Once cooled, we trimmed the excess, drilled the necessary holes, and cut out the areas needed for the handle to fit through. The handle housing that the mold produced was a near spitting image of the original piece! I purchased spray paint at the auto parts store to match my interior and proceeded to paint the new part we created.

I still needed a way to attach the housing to the door panel. I visited a local store that carries a large variety of fasteners and different screws. I pieced together a few different fasteners and came up with the most efficient combination to install the housing. Once the housing was attached to the panel I installed the handle and reinstalled the entire door panel.

The new housing and the old handle worked perfectly! I was so excited that this worked I immediately proceeded to repair the entire vehicle. My Jeep finally had fully operational doors! The whole repair only cost around $100. My next thought was recovering my expenses. I made one extra “kit” and pieced everything together. I wrote a simple set of instructions to include with the parts and posted the entire repair kit on eBay. I quickly coined a name for the kit calling it the “Thrasher Fix” as it was in fact two Thrashers who ultimately made the repair possible.

The auction was only up for a few hours before I was contacted by a tool distributor who blogged about the very problem I have just repaired. The tool company immediately asked to purchase this item and inquired about the wholesale cost of the kit. I was taken back initially and excited to think that this idea could really take off!

Over the next few weeks, my living room became an assembly line of sorts. My roommates were not happy about the smell of melted plastic or the change in décor but I was too distracted by my potential success to care. I continued to manufacture the kits in my living room using only a toaster oven and my original mold for months. We slowly fine-tuned the kit with customer feedback as a guide. The business was growing quickly and I knew the next logical step was to protect my new business and my intellectual property with a patent.

I contacted a patent attorney via the old “friend of a friend” process and began the patent application process with a provisional patent on June 25th 2011. The full utility patent was later applied for in June of 2012. This was of course a very expensive decision and took almost all of the profit from sales at that point. The risky decision seemed justified by the potential protection it could provide. The potential patent would later be realized as the most important part of the business.

The sales continued to grow and we even designed a second kit that repaired an identical issue on the Jeep Commander. This kit was catching on and selling almost as quickly as the original. It was not long before we out grew my living room and began to look at producing the parts on a larger scale. Wanting to work within the United States, we found a company located in Plant City, Florida to suit our needs. The plastic company recommended a 3d designer who was paid to provide them with designs matching our two housings to be produced. The designer finished the commander design but never completed the Cherokee housing. The plastic company proceeded to produce the design that was actually completed. The handles were finally produced on a large scale but the housings were unfinished, production was slow, and the process was very expensive. The disappointment in not only the manufacturer but also the 3d designer recommended by them drove me to look somewhere else for my manufacturing. We decided to go with a company outside of the United States. The quality was great, the parts came ready to package, and the cost was reasonable. The delay from attempting to keep the business in America was costly.

Unfortunately other parts companies began to copy our kits. The first was a parts company out of Louisiana but they were soon to be one of many. The tool company was still selling the handles for us at this point and using our name to grow not only in popularity but also to climb in Google search results. The sales were fairly consistent despite the competition from the larger parts companies that were beginning to copy us.

After a while, the tool company that we were working with from the beginning in distributing our kits grew tired of the competition and waiting for the patent to process. The promise of being the exclusive dealer for our kits and our close relationship that developed over the many months was not enough to keep them honest. Despite the knowledge of the pending patent, the company decided to copy our kit and produce it as its own. They ultimately used our kit and our name to rise to the top of search engines only to stab us in the back. This was the hardest pill to swallow upon discovery. The company that worked with me to grow was the very company to knock me down. In an instant it wasn’t “us” against them, it was me against them all.

The repair has now caught on and spread across the auto parts world. The fix that a father and son developed from shop scraps, supplies raided from the kitchen, and old fashioned elbow grease has become the industry standard for repairing this defect. We now hold two patents for our repair kits. Patent US9126291B1 and US9744627B1. When Thrasher isn’t in the name, it is a copy of the original.

 

We thank you for purchasing this product from the original inventor and supporting our business.

Go with the original Thrasher fix and get it right the first time!

This is the complete Zach Thrasher door handle repair kit! Comes with everything you need to fix your broken interior door handles and tells you how to do it. We recommend fixing all four of your vehicles handles at one time as the others WILL eventually break. We sell repair kits that fix the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Jeep Commander.

Cherokee kit:

Jeep Grand Cherokee door handle kit. The smart solution for repairing broken interior door handle assemblies on Jeep Grand Cherokees, years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. This is the complete kit! Comes with everything you need and tells you how to do it.

Included:
All 4 interior door handles
Full hardware for install
Easy to read instructions with pictures
Thrasher Door Handles are constructed from premium quality materials to ensure stability. It is designed to meet OE standards for an appropriate and accurate fit. Item comes with 2 years limited Thrasher fix warranty.

 

Commander Kit:

Jeep Commander door handle kit. The smart solution for repairing broken interior door handle assemblies on Jeep Commanders 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. This is the complete kit! Comes with everything you need and tells you how to do it.

Included:
All 4 interior door handles
Full hardware for install
Easy to read instructions with pictures
Thrasher Door Handles are constructed from premium quality materials to ensure stability. It is designed to meet OE standards for an appropriate and accurate fit. Item comes with 2 years limited Thrasher fix warranty.