The Plastics Blog
By Don Loepp | About The Plastics Blog

Great moments in plastics inventions: the pool noodle

| July 8, 2014 10:44 am ET

Image By: Industrial Thermo Polymers Ltd.Pool noodle

Next time you’re picking up some pool noodles for an outing to the pool or the lake, thank the Hartman family and Industrial Thermo Polymers Ltd. of Brampton, Ontario, who invented the noodle almost by accident.

In an interview with public radio’s Marketplace about the invention of summertime favorites, CEO and President Steve Hartman said he originally set out to start a business with his father, David Hartman when, in 1980, his father — a plastics industry veteran — told him he’s bought some equipment.

“He said he found a tandem extrusion line, and I said: ‘What’s a tandem line?’ ‘Oh, you make foam with it.’ ‘Well that’s interesting. What are we going to make with it?’”

The original business plan was to make backer rods which are used in construction. But as the company grew, the family ended up with 9-foot, gray foam rods the family would play with in the pool. Hartman had the idea of giving them brighter colors and selling them retail, but, as he told Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal, it was hard to find a way to market them.

“You float around with them,” Hartman would tell potential buyers. “You hit your brother with them.”

Finally a buyer for retailer Canadian Tire took a chance on stocking them, and the business took off.

Industrial Thermo Polymers still makes backer rods and other customer polyethylene foam parts, but it also produces about half of the pool noodles sold in North America.

Listen to the full interview, about four-and-a-half minutes.

(And thanks to PN news editor Rhoda Miel for today's post).


Recent Blog Posts

Obama talks about composites and 3-D printing at Techmer PM   January 10, 2015 10:01 pm ET
Your most popular stories of 2014   December 29, 2014 8:57 am ET
Law denies benefits to former Nazis, including former plastics executive   December 18, 2014 5:53 pm ET
Study estimates 269,000 tons of plastic in world's oceans   December 10, 2014 7:25 pm ET
Plastics and politics ... it's serious business   December 4, 2014 5:20 pm ET

Comments

Great moments in plastics inventions: the pool noodle

Published: July 8, 2014 10:44 am ET
Updated: July 8, 2014 10:51 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events