Here is the story of how the evolution of the Driver’s Elbow Pad (DEP) gradually resulted in our sincere desire to improve the quality of drivers’ lives. In 1976, Driver’s Elbow Pad founder, Bob Quinlan, joined the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman (a medic), was also assigned to Field Med School, where he was trained to be a medic for the US Marines, which allowed him to challenge the CA state board to get his nursing license. He later became a medical sales rep providing support to medical practices, clinics and hospitals.
In 2013, while driving 2,000 miles in one week, he developed elbow pain from driving with his left elbow “resting” on the thin, hard window frame. He looked on-line for a possible solution for his pain. Finding nothing that relieved his pain, he developed the idea of a pillow for his elbow and with the help of a fellow Rotarians, Bob designed the first prototype of the Driver’s Elbow Pad in 2014. The initial frame was made of sheet metal and the pad used Velcro to stick to the frame. They quickly discovered that the metal scratched the window each time that it was rolled up or down. He approached another Rotarian that is a president for a plastics molding company and learned that a plastic frame could be almost as strong as metal, yet smooth enough to not scratch the window. Bob hired an attorney to file for a patent to protect his idea and new product. Since the patent process takes 2 years, the Driver’s Elbow Pad is still patent-pending, but the legal protection began as soon as the paperwork was submitted. Being a professional medical sales rep, he wondered who would buy this new invention, to make sure the demand was there to mass produce it. In 2014, he noticed truckers driving with their left arm “resting” on their window frames and he received the validation he sought. It was even more motivating to learn that Wikipedia defined this painful condition as “Driver’s Elbow” or “Trucker’s Elbow.” The more he researched, the more he was inspired, discovering that there are 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. alone, that they average 57 years old, and legally drive up to eleven hours a day. Being a fellow Baby-Boomer, he knew this aging population was going to need even more help as we age, especially when he recognized that this elbow pain periodically became so intense that it actually became distracting from his driving. When he focused on the pain, he was not able to focus as much on the road. This was not safe for him or the other motorists on the freeway. His nine years of nursing experience combined with his thirty years of medical sales experience and he felt a moral obligation to bring this product to market to make the highways safer for us ALL!
In July, 2015, he sponsored a booth at the Fleet Safety Conference near Chicago, IL to seek market validation, where he not only received such from many of the 250 Fleet Safety Managers attending, but also much encouragement to expedite production. Fleet Safety Managers brought other Fleet Safety Managers to the Driver’s Elbow Pad booth and offered suggestions. Next, in October, 2015 near Philadelphia, PA, he gave away 500 sample Driver’s Elbow Pads to many of the 2,500 C-suite managers and trucking company owners attending the ATA MC&E (American Trucking Association Management Conference & Exhibition), where he received even more encouragement. So, he refined the production of the pads, the covers, the embroidery of the pads, the assembly, storage and shipping facilities and processes. Seeking the advice of professionals at SCORE (Sacramento Corps of Retired Executives) and watching Shark Tank consistently, he learned that a company needs to be more than just a single product. During this same period, he had been approached by truck drivers that had created inventions of their own, but didn’t know how, and didn’t want to take them to market, so they approached Bob, who was quite thrilled to represent many wonderful ideas that would make these professional drivers that drive 100,000 miles a year, more comfortable, therefore safer. He obtained the domain www.TruckerComfort.com in preparation for representing a line of products to make truck drivers and other long-distance drivers (sales reps, commuters, vacationers. police, RV enthusiasts, and others) more comfortable during their long journeys.
In March, 2016, he attended the world’s largest conference for truckers, MATS (Mid-America Trucking Show). In preparation for such, he rented a small RV to transport the product for sale and equipment that he wanted for the show (i.e. the Freightliner door, in the video above, to demonstrate to attendees). He decided to make an adventure of driving 2,500 miles each way from California to and from Louisville, KY. He projected a driver’s schedule of driving 11 hours a day to get him there on time and gain some empathy for the drivers that live the unique lifestyle on the road–driving during the day and pulling into truck stops at night and sleeping in the vehicle to save hotel costs, then taking a shower for about $8 at the truck stops, eating less-than healthy fast-food (with an occasional salad) and starting the daily process all over. Thank goodness for audiobooks and sunflower seeds! The more northern route of I-80 was a bit quicker, but to stay ahead of storms, he had to forgo visiting Mt. Rushmore and took the more southern route of I-40 home. He learned that flexibility is a major part of the trucker lifestyle, while questioning how they maintain their schedule of deliveries. What a challenge! Back to the Driver’s Elbow Pad evolution…
We have received much encouragement from truck drivers (at truck stops, who smiled as Bob approached them in their idling trucks to get their ideas and feedback–thank you all!), Fleet Safety and C-Suite Managers, trucking company owners, owner-operators, supply distributors (to make these devices available to national truck stop stores as well as smaller regional stores), and the loving women that have researched elbow pain relief on-line and purchased Driver’s Elbow Pads for their heroic road warriors).
Driver’s Elbow Pads make wonderful:
- Safety Awards (rewards for excellent job performance and precaution),
- Anniversary and Holiday Gifts (lasting, unique, inexpensive gifts of reward and caring), and
- Recruitment and Retention Tools (showing their drivers that management truly cares about them).
Let’s take care of these wonderful resources, truck drivers, that transport 85% of all the goods in America.