Napoleon resident plans to stay connected
Wanda English Burnett, Editor
An idea that grew out of frustration is paying
off big for a former Napoleon resident. Mike Schutte has invented
and patented an electrical outlet cover that holds cords secure.
He has launched his own company, StayConnect LLC.
Schutte, a 1988 graduate of Jac-Cen-Del, now lives in Cornelius,
NC, with his wife Tracye and daughter, Victoria, 7. Tracye is the
daughter of the late John and Eva Everage of Versailles.
Schuttes life has taken an interesting turn after frustration
of constantly being disconnected while using his electric yard tools.
He told the Osgood Journal, My yard working tools consisted
of a gas powered lawn mower, electric weed eater, and electric leaf
blower. I always edged, weed-eat and blew the grass and leaves with
my electric tools. Of course, this meant that I had to pull out
my 50 foot extension cord, plug it in and proceed about my business.
He went on to say that it never failed when he got out about 49
feet, the cord would pull out of the outlet. He said he doesnt
know how many times he walked back and forth just to plug in his
After searching the Internet and going to local hardware stores,
where he was told to do essentially what he had been doing, setting
a potted plant on the cord to secure it, Schutte said he began to
put a lot of thought into the situation.
Schutte, who has a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue
University, was traveling for his job, when laying in a hotel bed
one night he thought of the solution. It hit me like a ton
of bricks, he noted, as he woke up in the middle of the night
and wrote the design down on paper.
When he returned home the next day he said he immediately began
building his prototype. It took about an hour to build and
after it was done, I immediately took it into my living room, pulled
out the vacuum, and tested it. It worked!
He called a friend, Chris Moses of Cincinnati, who is also formerly
of Napoleon, and told him about it. His friend encouraged him to
While the story sounds like it was an immediate process, it was
not. Schutte explained it took him several years to get frustrated
enough to actually work on fixing it. Even after he designed the
outlet cover, the weather turned colder and he wasnt working
outside as much, so he just put it on a back burner.
Then one night in December of 2007 he was channel surfing and came
across a company called HeadBlade. He said the show highlighted
all the ups and downs that the owner was going through in his small
business start-up. He thought about his own idea and sent an email
to the owner Todd Greene. Greene sent a reply back to Schutte, one
that will be on his desk permanently. Schutte describes it as a
man sitting at a desk and behind him are pictures of himself under
each month of the year labeled as employee of the month.
There is also a quote that reads, one of the perks of self-employment.
He said this lit a fire under him and in January of
2008 he began procedures to patent his invention. In August of 2008,
he established his own company and with a non-paid staff, as of
January 31 this year, he hosted a Stay Connect party. Attending
the event were owners and managers from Ace Hardware, Lowes Home
Improvement Financing, and the local newspaper, Lake Norman Herald,
along with a number of close friends, to help launch the company.
StayConnect will be making its national debut at the National Hardware
Show, Las Vegas, NV on May 5,6,& 7, according to Schutte.
He noted that in the midst of the bad economy, I want people
to know that you can still start your own business if thats
what you truly want to do.
Schutte has great opportunities in the wings. Hes been meeting
with corporate officials from Lowes Home Improvement, and talking
to QVC, along with 02media, inc., a company that makes infomercials.
He says there are multiple designs for his outlet cover and while
his website is constantly being updated and changed, you can get
an idea of what it is by going to: www.stayconnect.com.
Schutte is the only son of Wayne and Susan Schutte of Napoleon,
but he has several sisters: Monica Seifker of Bedford; Cindy Weisenbach
of Batesville; Dana Newheart of Osgood; Sarah Smith of Batesville;
Amanda and Erin Schutte, both of Napoleon.
Schutte said his mechanical aptitude skills and his focus of coming
up with a solution to a problem, motivated him to invent this electrical
solution he hopes will help thousands of others. I am a do-it-yourself
kind of person and take things upon myself to get it done right,