Round Rock daughter, dad create products that solve everyday problems like how to hang a picture
Shari Hammond can hardly remember a time when her father wasn't inventing something. By the time she was 6, her father, Ron Hunt, had started woodworking and her mom, Phyllis, would paint his pieces. They had a wood crafts kiosk in the malls for years.
After decades working at IBM in Austin, Ron Hunt took an early retirement in the late 1990s and with a buddy started Discgear, a CD storage system that worked like a Rolodex.
Then came Perfect Petzzz, which were stuffed animals that looked like they breathed. Hunt later formed a partnership with Ronco, focusing on kitchen appliances.
By the time Hammond was 18, she was working alongside her father helping Discgear with office management. She later went with him to Ronco, where she was the creative director designing packaging.
"They were always looking for something new and innovative," she says of her father and his business partner.
Now the Round Rock mom is her father's business partner. In 2017, they launched Inspired Product Development Group and have developed Cabinet Caddy spice rack and Go Hang It picture frame hanging system.
"It's 50-50," she says of their partnership. "We really work well together. He's more on the technical engineering side and I'm more on the user and ergonomic side."
He thinks about the way a product will work, and she makes sure that it's something a consumer will want in their house.
Hunt and Hammond took out second mortgages to launch Inspired PDG. That was tough. Hammond is a single mom to 12-year-old son Pierce. They scaled back and made sacrifices.
"We took a gamble, but it was an educated gamble," Hammond says. "This wasn't our first rodeo."
During the pandemic, with more people at home, the gamble has paid off. Hammond says sales in 2020 improved 500 percent from 2019.
People, she says, "are tackling projects they haven't been able to handle."
Inspired PDG's first product was Cabinet Caddy, a spice rack that holds 20 or more different-size spice containers. It rotates out, up to 90 degrees, to make finding the spices you want easier, and it also stores inside pantry shelves compactly, allowing you to fit many Cabinet Caddys side by side without taking up much space. They sell for $39.99 each.
People have used the Cabinet Caddy for many things, including baking decorating supplies, nail polish, prescription bottles and craft items.
Cabinet Caddy is sold online through the inspiredpg.com website or through Amazon.
Their next product was the Go Hang It, which is an all-in-one tool that has everything you need to hang a picture on the wall without measuring anything. It includes a level and magnetic keys that attach to hooks in the back of a picture frame to mark where the holes for your nails need to go. You attach the keys to the hooks, put your picture where you want on the wall and make sure it's level. Then you press the picture into the wall and the magnetic keys mark where nails go.
If you have a wire loop on the back of your frame, you attach the Go Hang It to the loop and use a provided template and a pushpin to mark where the nails need to go.
Go Hang It also contains a variety of nails, hooks and screws you might need for hanging photos.
Both the Cabinet Caddy and the Go Hang It try to solve problems that Hammond has experienced in her own life..
"There are two types of picture hangers," she says. "There's the people who eyeball it and throw it up, and the ones that measure. Most people aren't going to measure. They end up with Swiss cheese wall" — one that is full of holes.
Hammond and Hunt are working on a second version of Cabinet Caddy that will work in older homes that have smaller shelves, and a Go Hang It that will work on floating shelves that have keyhole hardware on the back.
Hammond says the goal is to develop a new product every year "that helps make daily tasks easier, more efficient. That's kind of our niche." They have another in development.
Each day, Hammond and Hunt start by taking a walk together and talking about the business, fresh ideas and 12-year-old Pierce.
"There's always innovation," she says. "One thought leads to another, and that leads you down a path."
Nicole Villalpando writes about parenting for the American-Statesman. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.