‘STEPS TO SUCESS’

Local contractor proves that necessity really is the mother of invention
After spending more than 20 years standing on a ladder, Walter Nagle had an idea.
The local contractor was using a standard ladder to complete his building and renovating jobs, often spending hours balancing on the thin, circular rungs.
"My back was always bothering me, my feet were always bothering me, everything in general was bothering me," he said.
Since he didn't want to quit his life's work, Mr. Nagle took matters into his own hands. Using an old step ladder, he fashioned himself an 'extension.' Placing it over top of the circular rungs, he now had enough room to firmly plant his feet, thus taking pressure off his back.
He spent 10 years using the self-made extension when doing any job that required a ladder. His back pain improved, the pain in his feet disappeared and Mr. Nagle never looked back.
About six years ago, the Courtice resident was helping a friend renovate when he realized that he should be sharing this secret with other contractors.
"That was the day I decided I had to do something with this," he said. What followed was a rollercoaster ride that took Mr. Nagle's idea from concept to reality.
The road wasn't always easy. After contacting a lawyer to get a patent, Mr. Nagle began a long and unfruitful bid for a government grant that would help bring his product to market. The process 'wasted' nearly two years of his time, he said, and ended with a rejection.
"I was so down after that," he said. "It had me doubting myself. But I've been lucky to have very supportive friends and family. My wife especially has been incredible. We do everything together and she gave me a lot of encouragement."
Today, Mr. Nagle is on much firmer ground. He recently launched ProStep Inc., a company dedicated to bringing his patented invention to market, and expects to start selling the locally made product in retail stores shortly.
Weighing just over six pounds, the aluminum extension fits over the majority of ladders and is sturdy enough to handle at least 985 pounds. It is useful for anything that requires extended ladder use -- from small painting jobs to big renovation projects.
"It is a product that's needed," Mr. Nagle said. "Now it will be available to everyone."