Markets - Analysis - Finance
John Kennedy / Special to the Daily News
With one fling, inventor Jeremy Hoenack launches his lightweight Smartcover onto his car,
shielding it from grime and heat
Inventor's car protector on in a flash
By Pam Park
BURBANK-Male car lovers
may be willing to unfurl, tug and adjust a traditional
car cover over their whole car. But Jeremy Hoenack,
inspired by his wife, has taken a decidedly unmacho tack
with a lightweight and easily manageable car cover.
it doesn't take up a lot of space in the trunk.
"It works really well," says Maria Hoenack, the woman Jeremy Hoenack had in mind when he invented the Smartcover.
Maria Hoenack is a petite woman with a hereditary condition that makes her arms shorter and smaller than average.
Maria Hoenack particularly values the cover when she has her 7-month-old son with her. When they get back to the car after doing an errand, it's much more comfortable inside for him, she said.
Janet Kaye, a Studio City business consultant, is among the product's fans.
"I am in love with it. I liked it from the get-go, and it grows on you," Kaye said.
outside under some trees. That gets my car filthy, and it
heats up in the summertime," she said.
Jeremy Hoenack said the steering wheel of a car parked in the sun can get as hot as 195 degrees. It's hard for a person to hold his or her hand on a 155-degree surface for more than two or three seconds.
"If you leave your car in the sun all day, it may get to 120 degrees even with the cover, but it won't get that searing heat," Hoenack said.
The cover caught Kaye's eye because it doesn't cover the whole car. She saw it at a carwash - on the cashier's car.
"I just can't believe how simple it is," she said.
|It takes less
than a minute to put on and take off and Kaye put the
cooling factor to the test on a recent run of errands.
"I put it on every time I stopped, and what a difference it makes," Kaye said.
Jeremy Hoenack may have found his niche. He's veering away from the venues that would target mechanics and male car enthusiasts. He thinks half-covers haven't sold because they were targeted at men.
Smartcover is decidedly marketed to women.
"They don't want to fool with the full cover," Hoenack said. Putting on a full cover can be a workout that will leave you sweating, he said.
Car creation fights finger burn
up with the Smartcover idea about three years ago. It's
one of a number of inspirations he says he has gotten
about 3 a.m.
"Inventing has just sort of been my thing from the time I was a kid," he said.
Hoenack owns Sound Trax Studios in Burbank and invented a digital audiovisual editing system that allows film editors to edit on a computer screen and add sound effects with a mouse click.
He was working on a patent for another sound-related invention, but decided to patent the car cover first as a practice run.
After he filed the Smartcover patent, it was time to figure out how to manufacture and market it. A car cover manufacturer wasn't interested because a half-car cover it marketed had
Hoenack tried a company that makes folding windshield sun
reflectors, but they weren't positioned to market it.
Eventually, Hoenack remembered Jackson Ko, a man he met at a car show who manufactured reflective materials in China. After being sold on the idea, Ko started producing the Smartcover.
The Hoenacks decided to market the cover themselves. They contacted Hammacher-Schlemmer and the company put it in a catalog released June 19.
The covers starting selling almost immediately, Hoenack said.
"They have exceeded our expectations in every way," Hoenack said.
Hoenack produced a demonstration video in his studio and put the demo tape and the car covers at the Classic Car Wash in
and the Toluca Lake Car Wash in North Hollywood.
Pat Villareal, cashier at Toluca Lake Car Wash, says their location has sold about 25 of them, with no returns.
People see the video while they wait for their carwash and buy the $39.95 cover.
Smartcovers are popular with people who park their cars at the Metro Rail terminal, where they're in the sun all day, she said.
"They're doing well," she said.
Hoenack decided to get more exposure for the cover with a media buy.
"We came to the conclusion that it would be a sin not to make a TV spot, since we have all the resources right here," he said.
Thirty-second commercials targeting women began airing this week on The Food Channel, Game Show Network, Odyssey and Oxygen cable networks.
Go to SmartCover Home Page