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That was 1952. Today he's the full-fledged president of the Benson Sporting Goods Manufacturing Co., Inc. (so named because the family camp is on Benson Road). It's a profit-making concern with six stockholders, a workshop (converted garage at home), proving grounds at the camp and a sales office in Scotia.
Inventing something, Herman soon found out, isn't as tough as doing something about it. First of all, he saw that after using the gun-rest, it was too bulky. Herman's kid brother Rudy had an idea. He spoke up: "We could fix that, Herm. We'll get a hinge, stick it to the middle and then we can fold it into half the size."
"LIKE A SHOE BOX"
Herman knew they had something. With the help of the hinge they could fold it into the shape of a box. After a few weeks, Paul, the 7-year-old, said: "You know, Herm, as long as it folds into a box, why not put a groove in it so you can put the bottles of oil and stuff inside it. Like a shoe box."
Herman worked this idea out and by now his homemade joker was quite a neat production in its still crude way. Herman's father, who had been a tool-maker with G.E. once, knew how to make blueprint diagrams. He made some of the kit and Herman took them to the family lawyer who sent them to a patent attorney in Washington.
The P.A. made a search of the patent office and found that gun-rest patents already in existence totaled only three—1952, 1942 and 1872. A patent, Herman found out, was issued only if your invention had at least one completely original feature to it. This one did have—exactly one: the storage space it offered after the box was folded onto a spacer track inside. With the legal green light, the Pribis boys were off.
Herman redesigned it to make it look more handsome. Then he tracked down a box company in Vermont who agreed to make the boxes. The first batch was made out of basswood.
After trying them out for a month or so, Herman saw that they got easily scratched up. As a result, he came up with the idea of putting on projecting metal corners and that kept the finish slick. He gave it a trade name: the Kleen-Tote. It's already being sold in sporting goods stores through New York State and New England.
MAKING THINGS THAT HELP
Herman is a great big guy for his age—a 6-foot, 200-pounder—who looks as though he'd make a fine, long-hitting first baseman. But he's no more interested in baseball than a Swiss watchmaker. His sport is making things that help him, and others, to hunt.