Craft & Design Energy & Sustainability
Mr. Tank Nanny identified a need

Photo from The Boston Globe

While working at a local shop, Earl Cogswell, jr. saw the need for people to have a clean, secure way to store their propane tanks during transit to and from the filling stations. As he filled up tanks for people, he could see that often women were jamming the tank in with their groceries, and other times they were loose in the backs of pickup trucks.

Cogswell asked his suppliers for something to secure the tanks, but couldn’t find anything. Thus was born the idea for the Tank Nanny, a skid-free plastic holder that provides a snug fit for the standard 20-pound propane tank. It costs $18.95 and has a built-in seat belt loop.

As a result of the problem he saw and the design process he went through with his family, he has developed a product called Tank Nanny.

Cogswell, 44, sketched the design on napkins and backs of envelopes. His wife, Donna, and daughter Jennifer, an engineer for Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut, helped with the details. Another daughter, Jessica, designed a website, posters, and brochures and created the Tank Nanny logo – a female figure in silhouette.

Maybe you think his idea is brilliant, or maybe you have been getting by with milk crates for decades, but you have to hand it to him for running with his idea. If you had an idea for a product that the world could use, would you know how to bring it to market? Where do you turn to for support on your design ideas? Let us know what you think in the comments.


Making things is the best way to learn about our world.

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