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Former Metro cop launches second career as an inventor

Chuck Mangrum, a resident of The Lakes, is set to be in downtown Pittsburgh this week as an exhibitor at the Invention & New Product Exposition.

The show connects inventors with entities such as SkyMall, best known for products seen in airline magazines. Hampton Direct also planned to have representatives there. It concentrates on developing, branding and marketing innovative items that address specific household needs.

Mangrum, a retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department lieutenant, was set to attend as the inventor of Light N Lift, a unit that attaches to a toilet seat and provides discreet LED lighting for late-night bathroom visits. He said the idea came to him about 1½ years ago.

“I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and I thought, ‘Do I turn on the lights, which are very bright and would make it hard to go back to sleep, or do I go in the dark?’ ” Mangrum said. “I got to bed and thought, ‘It sure would be nice if there was a light on the toilet.’ ”

Light N Lift attaches to the seat, is made of plastic and is applied with industrial-strength adhesive. Its lights are photosensitive and run off a 9-volt battery. It includes a handle for lifting the toilet lid.

“It’s very hard to bring a new product to market,” said David Sason, senior marketing manager for Focus Product Design Inc., which is helping Mangrum develop his product. ” … We really take the time beforehand, in the ideation (conceptual) phase, to consider costs and functionality, so that if you have to go back to the drawing board, you can do it while it’s still in the sketching phase.”

Sason said the failure rate for a new product is typically 80 to 90 percent.

To date, Mangrum said, he’s put about $16,000 into Light N Lift, much of it into trademark and patents to ensure that no one can steal his design.

“You have to determine if it’s something only you think is a good idea or if it’s applicable to the real world,” he said. “Is it something that’s needed, useful? And does it help someone?”

He said he hopes the show in Pittsburgh will result in securing an investor so he doesn’t have to bear the costs of product development alone.

Besides marketing it to homeowners, Mangrum said he sees the Light N Lift being installed in nursing homes, hospitals and hotels. On a recent vacation to Spain, he noticed his hotel room had a light built into the wall between the toilet and the bidet. Mangrum said Light N Lift is an alternative, achieving the same result without remodeling.

“It’s very cost-prohibitive for hotels to rewire and put all those lights into the walls,” he said. “This is cost-effective and applies in seconds.”

If all goes well, Mangrum hopes to have Light N Lift available by Christmas. The retail price will be between $19.99 and $24.99.

Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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