A Sound Solution
Communication is important in any setting. But for workers in confined spaces, it can be the difference between life and death.
That was the motivation for Cliff Johns, CEO Louisville-based TubeMaster Inc., when he invented a new early-stage product he says uses fiberoptics to make communicating in confined spaces safer and more reliable. He says current methods can be spotty, and may even introduce new danger because they contain combustible materials.
“This is a product that affects people’s lives,” Johns said. “It could save lives. That’s a whole different ball game.”
To help him launch the product, Johns enlisted an MBA team at the University of Louisville’s College of Business. They conducted market research and came up with a plan.
“We were tasked with really taking that idea and running with it,” said Chris Taft, a recent MBA alum who worked on the TubeMaster team. “Figuring out how to bring it to market.”
The company currently sells catalysts, but Johns said this “potentially disruptive” product would allow the company to make a big splash in the confined spaces market.
“We want to own this space,” he said.
Johns said MBA team worked quickly and efficiently to research and plan, and provided valuable insight from a fresh perspective.
“When you’re nose-close to the issue, it’s hard to see what somebody can see at 10,000 feet,” he said. “So they were like the hawk, though. …They go up 10,000 feet and see the big picture, but they dove in on the prey.”
While the project benefited the company, Taft said it also benefitted the students, who got hands-on experience working with industry.
“I think any student at U of L should really seek out these hands-on experiences,” he said. “They give you the opportunity to take what you’ve learned and give back or make a true difference in the community.”