Shane Pannell says he has just the thing to address dried-up, stuck-on food, stickers, glue, tape, cereal, wax and gum on the floor – that stuff that can be a pain to remove.
He’s invented an eco-friendly broom with a retractable scraper that allows its handler to pry off stuck-on messes and then continue sweeping, all with a simple motion of the hand.
“I found it was one tough job with three kids,” said stay-at-home dad Pannell, inventor of the Sweep Easy Broom that he’s marketing out of his Tempe office. “Keeping the household in order was just tough.”
About eight years ago while juggling his household, he came up with a product idea that would make life easier.
“One day I was down underneath my table with a butter knife scraping up oatmeal and I’m like, ‘What am I doing? I’m underneath my table on my hands and knees. This is ridiculous. I wish there was something better.’ And that’s when I came up with my idea for a broom with a built-in retractable scraper.”
Pannell then went to work to make his own prototypes in his garage.
“I was out there constantly,” he said.
The result was a broom with no electronics so it’s environmentally and eco-friendly.
When he showed the prototype to others, they told him he should be on the ABC TV show “Shark Tank.” Pannell wrote to “Shark Tank” but didn’t hear back at first.
Producers finally responded and said if they decided to did a second season, they’d book him because they loved the product among nearly 70,000 applicants.
He made it on a show seven years ago.
All of the Sharks were interested, though he could never work out a deal. But that didn’t stop Pannell.
“Giving up wasn’t an option,” said Pannell. “After the show aired, I was inundated with emails from restaurants, convenience stores, bakeries, hospitals, schools and pet shelters. It was nonstop.”
He also received a lot of emails from people in wheelchairs.
One stood out the most. Pannell said, “One lady wrote back and said, ‘Oh my goodness, I find stuff stuck on my floor all the time and I can’t get it up because I’m in my wheelchair. It’s difficult to do that and to get on my hands and knees. And so, to have a product all-in-one it’s going to save me so much and I appreciate that so much. Thank you, Shane.’”
“I was just like, ‘Wow, I didn’t even think about that.’ So, I couldn’t give up. I knew there were too many people who could benefit from this.”
Pannell went back to the drawing board.
“This has literally been a dream of mine since I was 5,” Pannell said. “I used to buy clearance candy at the grocery store and sell it at school. I always was thinking and always wanted to invent something. I know there are other dreamers out there. My thing is just always to persevere.”
He faced many challenges, including financing, but in the end, prevailed.
“My whole goal all along was to get a great product out and have the satisfaction knowing that my product is helping people in a better, faster and environmentally friendly way,” Pannell said. “I’d lay in bed at night and think, ‘Is it worth it? Is it worth the time away from my family?’”
“What I have right now, I couldn’t ask for a better product,” Pannell said. “When customers use it, they’re going to know they have the best broom on the market plus they have a scraper that’ll remove things from the floor in a safe and ergonomically correct manner. No getting on your hands and knees, risking back injury, knee injury, whatever.”
The hard work definitely paid off. “I just took it one broom at a time,” said Pannell, who sells the broom for $19.95. “It works. It’s not a gimmick. It performs flawlessly.”