Fort Wayne's "Garage Inventor"

By Rachel Martin

October 6, 2011 Updated Oct 6, 2011 at 6:23 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Kevin Dillman is the inventor of the "Uni-Stand," a steel cylinder used to hold umbrellas, fishing poles, and beverages while enjoying outdoor activities.

Some people would consider Apple, Inc. CEO, Steve Jobs, the Thomas Edison of the 21st Century. And to think, the whole idea of Apple began in his garage.

Indiana’s NewsCenter set out to see if they could find the next great “garage inventor” right here in Fort Wayne, and we found Kevin Dillman.

Dillman's invention isn't a technological breakthrough, but it is something very useful that helps to solve small, everyday frustrations. Dillman calls it the “Uni-Stand.”

“It basically started from having difficulty setting up camping and hard ground. Trying to put tiki torches into the ground, bamboo poles, an umbrella that will withstand some wind and stay there, but be conveniently packable,” Dillman said.

“Uni-Stand” is short for “Universal Stand because it can be used for a variety of different things.

“It works for umbrellas, tiki torches, flag poles. I’ve even used two of them to put up a volleyball net with no ropes,” Dillman said. He’s also created a detachable table to hold drinks while camping, tailgating, or enjoying other outdoor activities.

Dillman said the steel rods of the stand can break ground under any weather condition, withstand winds up to 70mph. It’s also small and light enough to fit into a duffle bag for easy travelling. He said he uses anywhere from 7 to 11 Uni-Stands every time he goes camping or to a family function. Currently, Dillman is working on some other ideas and models for the Uni-Stand.

“I want to create a table that’s got a little lip to it so if there is a little bit of wind it won’t keep blowing your cigarettes off the table top.”

He’s working on creating a mounting Uni-Stand that will slide into the hitch of a truck or van.

“You won’t have to worry about whether or not you have ground to stick it in. Slip your umbrella right in there, open up your back doors and you got a picnic.”

Originally Dillman created the Uni-Stand for himself about three years ago, but while on a camping trip, a woman from Iowa begged him to sell them to her. That’s when he decided to manufacture and sell them out of his home and at flea markets and festivals. He’s been successfully selling Uni-Stands for a little over a year now.

“I’m not trying to get rich,” Dillman said. “I’m just trying to survive.”

Dillman sells the Uni-Stand for $30 a piece. He makes custom orders, and the price for tables and attachments vary.

The Uni-Stand
Kevin Dillman
(260) 484-5624
5-7:30 p.m. Monday – Friday

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