Justin Rivard saw a need during an ALICE Training session at Somerset High School last year.
He saw that intruders were able to push their way through in-swinging doors during the training on how emergencies are to be handled. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, which is done for active shooter response training in schools.
Rivard was taking a metals class and had finished a fire pit in the first three weeks of the class, so he was looking for another project. Little did he know, it would lead to a patented invention that he's hoping to develop into a business.
Rivard titled his invention "JustinKase." It was a $100 present from his grandmother that sparked Rivard to seek the patent. He'd been in contact with a patent search company, but they normally charged $400 to do a search. That week he received an offer that they were doing searches for $200. With $100 in hand, he asked his parents if it could be done. They agreed, and the application was made.
Rivard waited several weeks. Then one day last spring, after track practice, the call came in.
"They said everything's a go, you got a green light, you can get the patent," Rivard said.
Rivard credited Somerset High School principal Shannon Donnelly for being quite enthusiastic in encouraging him to pursue the idea.
After receiving the patent, Rivard contacted BPS, a steel fabrication business in East Farmington. BPS said it could cut the steel plates Rivard wanted for the base of the door jamb system.
Even before the patent process was begun, Rivard spent hours studying doors and security systems to see what was needed to offer protection against anyone breaking through a locked door. He looked at doors in numerous schools and hospitals.
Once the wheels were in motion to make his creation, Rivard went looking for customers. He didn't have to look any further than his own high school. Donnelly encouraged him to make a presentation before the Somerset Board of Education.
"It spoke for itself," he said of his creation. "Everyone liked it. They agreed that the school needed to buy them," Rivard said.
So the order was put in for 59 of the door jamb system for all of the in-swinging doors at the high school. Rivard spent his summer doing the welding that connects the locking system into the metal plate base. With the school paying half of the cost up front, it gave Rivard the working capital to cover the costs of all the materials and outside work.
"For doing this the first time, I'm pretty proud of how they look and how well they work," Rivard said.
Rivard is quickly understanding how the business world works. He understands that to get orders from other schools and businesses, his first customers have to be satisfied with the product.
"My reputation is going to be the best I can make it," he said. "When you have something that can potentially save lives, if you don't have trust, you don't have anything."
Rivard's door jamb system is adjustable, with the ability to fit any door from 25-to-40 inches in width. He said he is researching ways to create a system for an out-swinging door.
Rivard delivered the 59 door jamb systems for the high school recently and has just received an order for 50 more for Somerset Middle School. Anyone interested in having Rivard demonstrate his invention can contact Somerset High School.
Rivard said he wasn't the best student in school because he sometimes had trouble seeing uses for what was being taught. He said creating inventions has given him a newly found focus.
"It gives me a huge sense of purpose," he said, hoping he can find many more schools, daycares, hospitals and other businesses that could use the JustinKase. And while that is happening, he's got a notebook he's filling with ideas for possible new inventions in the future.