Local man’s invention now a QVC favorite
Roderick Phillips lives by the motto “dream big”— and now his larger-than-life dream is becoming a reality. His inventions, which fueled the inspiration for the Upper Desk Inc., an innovative company that “places technology where you need it,” have hit the market.
As an electrician by trade, the 58-year-old inventor has always thought outside the box. From back-yard windmills, to mechanical innovations, Phillips is a forward thinker. When he worked for Sylvania GTE plant, Montoursville, he earned the “Suggestor of the Year” award for improving flash-bulb technology and the storage and use containment system of liquid nitrogen.
“I can’t explain it. Ideas just come to me,” he said. “I think of new products or ways to improve existing items daily.”
The Williamsport Area Community College alumni, who for the past 30 years has served as an electrician at ConAgra, Milton, previously had limited time to nurture his innate creative ability. When he was not working, he spent his time caring for his wife, Debra, who was ill for most of their 34 years of marriage. In 2009, she passed away, leaving behind a letter that encouraged him to keep his innovative spirit alive.
“She wrote me a letter saying that she knew I would invent something really useful someday,” he said.
To cope with his wife’s death, Phillips began trading currency as a way to pass time. He spent many nights using his laptop to go online, mostly from his kitchen table. He discovered the aches and pains and sore neck that plague many computer users. The solution would be a more ergonomically correct position, so Phillips invented a portable cabinet mount for his laptop.
“When I first saw my father’s laptop suspended from his kitchen cabinet, I knew that it was the invention my mom was talking about,” says Phillips’ daughter and business partner, Stephanie Phillips-Taggart. “I am proud of my father’s determination to make his dream a reality.”
For more than three years, the father/daughter duo worked with representatives from Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Industrial Modernization Center, Bucknell University’s, Small Business Development Center, Lewisburg, Bassler’s Patternworks, Montoursville, members of the Williamsport Inventor’s Club and the on-line inventors’ resource tool — www.inventyourselfrich.com.
In March, they attended the International Home and Housewares show in Chicago, where two of his inventions received attention by national retailers and marketers. Upon their return home, Phillips formed Upper Desk Inc., the company responsible for marketing and distributing his inventions.
“The goal of Upper Desk Inc. is to provide consumers with innovative products,” says company CEO, Matthew Fidler. “Our products allow you to use technology when and where you need it. Upper Desk helps you stay connected to the world.”
The company’s first product — Model 117, a portable cabinet mount for your tablet/smart phone — is available on-line at upperdesk.com . Retailing for $49.99, the cabinet mount fits screen sizes four to 14 inches.
“Not only does it add a ‘wow’ appeal to your kitchen, but in today’s busy world, it’s a perfect multi-tasking tool. It’s like having your own personal wingman to help protect your expensive technology,” says Phillips-Taggart. “A busy mom can search online recipes. A professional can check email or Skype over lunch or a family can watch a movie over dinner.”
Using the Easy Latch System — a unique mounting design that requires no tools or permanent hardware — Model 117 can be installed or removed in seconds and protect tablets from harmful kitchen spills.
Phillips added, “The adjustable mount allows the user to view a tablet in landscape or portrait orientation. It also rotates and has angled settings for optimal viewing. It even holds my iPhone in landscape position.”
In the near future, additional technology accessories will be added to the Upper Desk product portfolio.
“This is a really exciting time — it is hard to believe that my ideas are finally being brought to market,” says Phillips with a smile. “The best is yet to come.”
UPPER DESK NOW AVAILABLE ON QVC.COM
The Portable Cabinet Mount wins the QVC Sprouts Program
After winning the most votes on the recent QVC Sprouts program, Upper Desk’s portable cabinet mount is now available for sale on QVC.com. The Sprouts program is an innovative voting platform for retail ready products that allows customers the opportunity to vote on the products they would most like to see sold on QVC. The goal is to foster the growth of a product over time, beginning with on-line opportunities that can potentially lead to sales presentations on QVC TV.
“It’s amazing to see the product on QVC’s website,” says Rod Phillips, Upper Desk inventor. “The Upper Desk team looks forward to working with QVC. Through this opportunity we hope to create interest in Upper Desk that validates a television spot.”
To view Upper Desk’s portable cabinet listing, visit www.qvc.com/CatalogSearch?langId=-1&storeId=10251&catalogId=10151&keyword=Upper+Desk