Inventor pursues passion
It's never too late to pursue your dreams, right?
Gladys Burrill completed her first marathon at 86 years old and the Honolulu Marathon at 92. Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first "Little House on the Prairie" book at the age of 65. Alan Rickman was 46 years old when he got his breakout role in "Die Hard."
If you're looking for a local example, look no further than Wilsonville's Dave Grill. After spending 25 years working at Metro Metals, Grill decided to step away and pursue some things that have always been a part of his life: invention and golf.
Grill invented the Delta Putt and Delta Dueler, a pair of products designed to help a golfer's putting, a "diagnostic tool" to give the user feedback on where they can improve in their game.
"It will identify even the most minor flaw in your stroke. It's great for top-rated PGA professionals clear through the first-time beginner because when you use it, it gives you visuals," Grill said. "You can see exactly what you just did in your stroke with the way the putt glides down the mat."
Grill's decision to pursue entrepreneurship full time came after a trip to Las Vegas with his wife, Kellie. While on a trip of leisure, Grill went to an open audition for the television show Shark Tank. Along with thousands of other inventors and entrepreneurs, Grill showed off the Delta Putt to the casting directors.
"We went up and then you have one minute to pitch your product to the casting directors," Grill said. "If they want to ask you additional questions they can, but what we mostly observed was people going up and doing their pitch, and the directors saying, 'Thank you very much. Take your application to fill out,' then they'd stick that in the pile and say 'Next up.' But every once in a while, the casting directors would ask some questions about the product and keep people up there more than a minute, and we were up there maybe seven or so minutes. He had tons of questions, really wanted to know about my patent, if it was a utility patent and things like that."
The experience was a good one for Grill. Showing off his creations to interested entrepreneurs brought him a sense of joy, something Kellie noted. Over dinner, Grill was encouraged to pursue his passion.
"After we did the Shark Tank interview, Kellie and I went to dinner and she'd never been with me to any of the golf shows. The reaction that people had had to the product while we were waiting around was amazing. Kellie watched this, and at dinner that night she said, 'I was watching the people and the way they reacted to the product, and you need to go home and retire and do this full time.' I laughed and said, 'Would you be good with that?' She said, 'I'm in 100 percent.' So Sunday night at the airport, I wrote my resignation later and Monday morning, I went in and handed it to the owners of the company. Now I'm doing this full time."
The full-time profession is new in quantity, but Grill has been creating things for a long while. When his daughter was a baby, Grill tells how he created a floating thermometer to try and find the perfect bath-water temperature to keep his newborn child comfortable. That was 30 years ago, and now, Grill is putting that creative mind to work again.
And while he has moved on from waiting to hear back Shark Tank, that doesn't mean he has any plans of slowing down.
"With as many applicants as they have for it, it's highly unlikely we get a call back for it," Grill said. "I'm not sure I'd want to go that route anyways. I'm on my own 100 percent now, and I'm not sure I would even want to have to answer to an additional partner to bring them in. And you have to give up equity. You would have somebody to be accountable. It would be intriguing and interesting to do, but when it really came down to it, I'm not sure I'd want to go that route anyway. I'm glad we did it, though, because that's the reason I'm doing the Delta Putt full time now. That was the thing to get us going and now I'm doing it."
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