Dragon-slaying inventor of toilet pipe cover is flush with success
His tiling job went down the s-bend in the building crash, but Herbie Porsche got down and dirty
Published 28/02/2010 | 05:00
What a week! My life has been transformed. I am Herbie Porsche. Yes, that is the name on my birth certificate and passport! I am a former German Air Force Luftwaffe pilot who, believe it or not, got scared of flying and so took voluntary retirement.
After living in Cavan and Dublin, I moved to my lovely Donegal in 1998 where I am a retired tiler -- this time forced retirement. In the construction boom, I tiled morning, noon and night all over the northwest, helped in the business by Maire my wife. I tiled and she grouted. But, as we all know, the whole building boom just died and our phone stopped ringing.
I began thinking about business ideas and I had an idea to solve a problem that every bathroom has. We all have toilets and they all have soil pipes, mostly going into the floor. No matter how good of a tiler you are there is always an uneven, ugly edge and a gap where the pipe goes into the floor. Whether your floor is covered with tiles, floorboards, laminate or lino, that ugly gap around the pipe is behind every loo. So, I invented the toilet pipe cover, a simple, white plastic collar that covers the lot and reduces the odours that sometimes emerge from the seal between the S-bend and the sewer pipe.
I could not believe there wasn't a product like it anywhere on the market here or abroad, and that it could be manufactured and sold for a fiver, or three for €9.99. So I applied to Dragons' Den and I appeared on it last Thursday.
Now I just can't believe the reaction. My phone, which had hardly rung in over 12 months, was jumping. On Friday the phone rang and it was the Ryan Tubridy radio show.
Imagine what that is like. I am exhausted and a little hung over with all the Guinness. Neighbours had been calling around to the house after the show to congratulate me on getting the backing of 'Dragon' Gavin Duffy. So I have three coffees and get ready to talk to Ryan. He loves the product. All the people texting the show love the product and want to buy it. Ryan asks is it in the shops. I can't explain to him that Woodies and B&Q are fighting to stock it. I mention my website www.toiletpipecover.com and immediately orders started rolling in. I mention what an inspiring but shrewd businessman Gavin is. We are becoming friends already, the way people always do in Ireland.
I then head to the shops. People are stopping me and clapping me on the back. It is surreal. I am thinking to myself, I am going to wake up now. But it is real.
I love Ireland and have loved it since that first moment I saw its green beauty from the window of a plane as I landed in 1983. It is such a special country with the best people in the world.
There I was last Thursday waiting for Dragons' Den to come on the telly and before it Prime Time was talking to all the young people out of work with very poor prospects of employment. I have had many ups and downs in my life, so I know how it feels.
But then Dragons' Den comes on and it seems like a different country. There are people with ideas and energy and there are the dragons, feisty, fair but also very funny in a uniquely Irish way. How can I ever thank RTE for giving me, at 60 years of age, the chance to have a new career and business. Then I am told the Sunday Independent is also looking for me to tell my story in my own words. Yes, I must be dreaming, this is too good to be true. But you know it also sounds too good to be true that, for a fiver, you can sort out that ugliness behind your loo, but I assure it is true.
And if it makes "money for Herbie", fantastic! And now I am dreaming.
Maybe before I die I'll get to buy my very own Porsche.
You can follow Gavin Duffy's Dragons' Den blog on www.mediatraining.ie