SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Ron Heiman knows just about everything there is to know about firefighting equipment. He’s been working at the company his father started after World War II all his life. Heiman Fire Equipment, located north of Sioux Falls, has been around for 80 years manufacturing fire trucks and selling equipment to fire departments.
Heiman has also invented and patented firefighting equipment. He says inventors are always “tinkering around all the time, thinking of something that’s interesting and trying to make it a little bit better.”
About 5 years ago this CEO took a detour from firefighting equipment and came up with something a little less serious.
“Its kind of a hat for your beer like a sombrero. Lets call it the Arctic Sombrero,” said Heiman.
That’s right, Heiman is the inventor of the Arctic Sombrero. It’s a replacement lid for any 30 ounce tumbler.
“Crack open your favorite beverage, grab your Arctic Sombrero, snap it on the lid, put it in your icy bath, and then enjoy,” Heiman said as he demonstrated how it works.
The initial idea came to him while on a family vacation. He wanted to have a couple of beers.
“Trying to hide it from the kids so they didn’t think I was a bad dad, and I put them in a plastic bag paper bag and that just wasn’t very good but it kept it out of sight,” said Heiman.
Heiman got home from the trip, but the idea stuck with him. So, he kept working on it.
“I thought, you know what, these doggone tumblers work great for keeping things cold, why don’t I put a beverage inside a tumbler,” Heiman said.
Big, fat, small or tall, Heiman says his lid will fit all kinds of beverage cans. It took about 5 years from idea to market.
“We tried all sorts of things. I probably have about 300 different changes in my… design. And we just kept working and working and we finally came up with a really good useful design,” said Heiman.
According to Heiman, in just 90 days on the market, the Arctic Sombrero is now being sold in all 50 states. It’s manufactured at Falcon Plastics in Brookings, South Dakota, and it’s become a family project. Heiman has his kids assemble the lids and box them up in the retail packaging. For them it’s the perfect combination of having fun, learning about business, and making a wage.
“I just pay them a flat fee for each unit,” said Heiman. “And then they chat with me every day when they come home from school, they are like dad how are we doing with our Arctic Sombrero? Did we get any sales? Where did sales go out to? They go to New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado where did they go to?”
His niece designed the packaging and his brother-in-law did the writing. You can find the Arctic Sombrero online or in stores like ACE hardware.
Michael Mcadaragh at the Ace Hardware Brandon in Brandon, South Dakota said there’s been a lot of interest.
“Kind of a discrete way of hiding your soda, so when you are at the ball game or whatnot so it been a pretty popular item this summer that we have here in Brandon,” said Mcadaragh.
A covert cup, tucked away tumbler, a masked mug however you describe it, The Arctic Sombrero appears to be a hit.
Next, is a version designed to keep a 16-ounce container of wine chilled to the perfect temperature.
The lids sell for $17.95