Designing and building an environment-friendly, easily transportable, rotational molded boat-docking system took time and effort, but Larry Moody had plenty of time after the company he worked for closed his division.
“I got an email that they had terminated the California operation [and] good luck,” said Moody, president of Issaquah, Wash.-based WaveMaster Docking Systems Inc., in a telephone interview. He did not disclose the company he had worked for.
Moody was luckier than most. He had experience in the plastics field — 15 years with two top-tier playground equipment companies. He also worked for a residential dock company and a commercial playground company that outsourced its manufacturing to China.
Though he had worries similar to most unemployed people, such as how to pay for his mortgage and health insurance, he said the situation gave him “a unique opportunity.”
He decided to be an entrepreneur and come up with a made-in-America product that could be patented and could compete globally.
“I put my ideas on paper and looked for all potential backers of a new company. I approached 100 companies in the U.S. and got, ‘No, hell no. Everybody is shrinking and you're trying to grow a company?' “ he said.
However, the idea of a docking system that was built with 50 percent recycled content and could be transported economically led him to investors willing to take a chance.
Moody, along with two silent, British Columbia-based partners, started WaveMaster last year. He's starting to build a sales team and is planning to lease a facility.
The dock system uses a modular design and comes in two sizes: 4 feet by 24 feet, or 8 feet by 24 feet. They, along with the flotation system, are designed to be carted on a truck bed; their fit makes them much more economical to transport than a traditional docking system, Moody said.
Wave Master honed the product by working with numerous experts. Innovative Rotational Molding Inc. of Madeira, Calif., is turning out the first of the docks.
Dan Humphries, IRM president, said the project is unique among all the ones he's worked on in his 30 years of plastics work, and it's definitely the biggest.
The project is being constructed on IRM's custom-built rock ‘n' roll rotomolding machine. It uses natural gas burners of 3 million to 3.5 million Btu for heat, and electronically monitors and controls the entire process. The single arm continuously rotates the mold 360 degrees while simultaneously rocking the mold to 45 degrees above or below the horizontal line. The cooling process uses atomized mist and forced cool air to lower the temperature gradually and optimize the final physical properties.
Moody said he turned to IRM after reading a 2008 story about the company in Plastics News. IRM is a custom rotomolder that likes to work on projects with entrepreneurs, Moody said.
Also instrumental in the project was Ewald J. Consen, who is based in Simi Valley, Calif., and is technical service manager for Entec Polymers LLC of Maitland, Fla. Consen worked on development, design and resin selection.
The system contains 50 percent recycled content, but is encased in a virgin linear low density polyethylene that is safe for any water source, according to the company.
Moody said the docking system can be used for a single swimming hole or for a multislip marina. The companies have even designed a rail for the system to sit on in areas where the tide varies by many feet.
“We had the environment in mind when we came up with the materials to use,” Consen said. He added that they also had to contain an ultraviolet-light inhibitor to protect the polymers from degrading.
Now that the molds are ready, Moody said WaveMaster is gearing up for the production.