36 ELECTRICALCONTRACTOR | OCT. 16 | WWW.ECMAG.COM
> FOCUS BY SUSAN CASEY
oday, electrical systems and lighting
technology are in a constant state of
development. However, the big companies
aren’t always responsible for the brightest
ideas. Sometimes, the independent inventors
who work in the trade create the products that
advance existing technology. Curious? Proceed.
In any factory, hundreds of pipe-support brackets
or racks hang from the ceiling. Electricians and pipe
fitters working in food and beverage manufacturing plants face a challenge in creating and installing
them. Due to specific sanitation regulations, racks in
these plants have to be fabricated of certain materials
in a specific way, on-site and one at a time.
“The process is time-consuming, dirty, dangerous
and expensive,” said Ron Meyer, founder and sales
director of Rocket Rack and a former St. Louis IBEW
Local No. 1 electrician. “To make racks, tradesmen start with
a 20-foot stick of 2-by-2-by-¼-inch stainless angle, cut it to
length, meticulously mark it and then drill individual holes
for U-bolts for the racks. A 4-foot rack can take three hours
to make, and since using all-thread rod isn’t permitted in food
plants, workers have to thread the tip-end of smooth, stainless
rod to install the racks, a process that can lead to injuries.”
Meyer worked mostly in food-production facilities and
breweries during his 30 years in the trade.
“During one particularly fast-track project, I was fed up,”
he said. “I’d been toying with the design for a prefabricated
system—a preslotted rack with mounting holes at each end.
A slot would allow for repositioning of the conduit, creating
precise alignment of the entire run. A machinist friend was able
to make up a bunch on short notice. We completed the job in
record time; our customer was thrilled. My [project manager]
suggested I seek a design patent.”
Meyer did just that and, in 2009, gained what would become
the first of Rocket Rack’s five rack design patents. Then came
engineering, determining load ratings and the length and place-
ment of slots and mounting holes.
Today, the Rocket Rack system includes a PVC-coated rod,
created when PVC heat-shrink is applied to a stick of all-thread
rod and then run through a tunnel oven.
“An installer uses a utility knife to cut away a small section
of the coating, revealing just the number of threads needed to
install rack hardware, eliminating the need to thread a rod on-site,” Meyer said.
While he continued working as an electrician during those
early years, Ron’s wife, Julie, owner and president of Rocket
Ron Meyer Julie Meyer