The year is 2006: Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest and the Da Vinci Code lead at the Box office. Nintendo releases the Wii in North America for the first time and Pluto is downgraded from a planet to a dwarf by the International Astronomical Union. Perhaps you stroll to work with a Motorola Razr in your pocket and an iPod on your belt playing a favorite CD that you recently uploaded. The automotive window film industry was simpler then. Standard dyed film is used for the basic installs and a metal-hybrid sold to discerning customers customer’s who desire the highest performance available. Tinting a windshield was nearly never done and your tool pouch was a mix of products primarily modified from their original use in order to get the job done.
Pro Tools Now Mountain Gnomes to the Rescue!
High in the Rocky Mountains, the keenly observant Pro Tools Now Mountain Gnomes are busy searching out the solution for reaching way back into those narrow little corners that damned automotive engineers confound film installers with. It was into this environment that one of the industry’s all-time best selling tools was launched, the EZ Reach Corner Tool.
The Mountain Gnomes noticed that many film installers had been taking 4″ Teflon cards and cutting them in half diagonally to create a tool that crudely enabled them to reach into tight spaces.
The negative to these cards being modified in the field was the ability to consistently get a clean edge when cutting the card in half. The tool would usually require some work to get shaped properly and smooth in order to use it on an installation.
The Mountain Gnomes had been working on the Contour and 6″ Jumbo Hard Card at the time and then the light bulb went off. What if we utilized the 6″ Jumbo Hard Card design and created a card that was already cut in half by design and featured tapered and smooth edges. This would save the installers a bunch of time and provide them with a more finished solution than possible by cutting the cards manually. So it was, that on a Wednesday afternoon in 2006, the first EZ Reach Tool was created and later brought to market as the EZ Reach Gold Corner Tool.
The EZ Reach Gold was warmly received and was quickly becoming an installer favorite for not only reaching into tight areas, but also tucking film behind the gaskets on roll down windows. Everyone loved the shape and size of the EZ Reach and they were made out of a material that slid smoothly across the surface of the film. If there was one complaint it was that the material was not stiff enough to apply the desired pressure all the way out at the tip of the tool.
One year after the introduction of the EZ Reach Gold, the Mountain Gnomes introduced the Platinum EZ Reach based on feedback received from the field. This new Platinum version was made using a stiffer material to provide the installers with a tool that could apply firmer pressure to the film all the way out to the edge. To provide the additional stiffness without losing the tools’ ability to glide over the film, the new platinum version featured molybdenum lubrication infused into the material. This not only accelerated sales dramatically, this exact tool remains one of the best selling industry tools to this day!
Is it possible that a tool can sell too well?
The Mountain Gnomes had a hit on their hands and for many years they struggled just to keep up with demand on the EZ Reach Tools. When the mold was designed for the original tool, it was not developed to support the volume that demand dictated. Now, they had to figure out a way to make a much larger volume of the EZ Reach Tool…Fast!
In addition, as the tool matured in the market, the feedback loop continued to give the Mountain Gnomes insight into how this great tool might be made even better. After several more years of playing with the tool design and developing a different mold, the Mountain Gnomes were ready to release the next version of the EZ Reach.
The EZ Reach Ultra is Introduced
The year was 2013 and Pro Tools Now introduced what was to be the successor of the Original EZ Reach, and they called it the EZ Reach Ultra. While basically the same overall design as the original, the new tool featured a flat top edge to rest your index finger on and the new mold design eliminated the need for a hole in the center of the tool. This new design could be produced more efficiently allowing the Mountain Gnomes to keep up with the increased demand. The elimination of the mold hole also addressed a rare issue with the original where the tool would crack around the hole if too much lateral pressure where applied.
After some Energy Drink, The Mountain Gnomes Decided the EZ Reach Tool Needed Wings
By all accounts, the EZ Reach Corner Tool has been a huge success for many years and remains a best selling tool to this day. However, never satisfied to rest on their laurels, the Mountain Gnomes went to work again in 2015 looking for ways to improve upon this tool yet again.
One night, after drinking way to many energy drinks, they decided that the tool needed “WINGS”. What they meant by this was the integration of the Control Contour Technology (CCT) from the Speed Wing into the EZ Reach shape. The resulting tool was called the EZ Wing. The CCT curved edge is a proprietary design element integrated into the bottom edge of the EZ Wing enabling the tool to encourage a finger or bubble to disperse outward as the arched edge is pushed forward over the film surface which reduces the chances of a crease and SPREADS OUT the inherent FILM TENSION the installer experiences while working with films.
The EZ Wing Lime (pictured) came out first with a innovative material featuring lubrication properties that enabled the tool to be stiff and still glide effortlessly across the film. The EZ Wing is now also available in a White version.
Now you know, the rest of the story
While the original intention was to continue to evolve the EZ Reach / Wing family and eliminate the older version, that has never happened. Each generation of this tool has it’s loyalists that swear by that design alone. As a result, Pro Tools Now still offers the EZ Reach Original in Gold and Platinum, The EZ Reach Ultra in Gold and Platinum and the EZ Wing in Lime and White to cover every installer’s preferences. The EZ Reach / Wing family should be available at all industry tool suppliers. There have been cheap imitations produced, so make sure you ask for the real deal by name. Ask for the EZ Reach, EZ Reach Ultra and EZ Wing the next time you place an order for tools, and the Mountain Gnomes will continue sip energy drinks high above the prairie below and dream of tools to make the installer’s life better.