Showergem: Frustration is the mother of innovation

Irish Times Innovation awards finalist in the manufacturing and design category has developed an entirely new type of shower caddy

Sean McGarry, who, along with his father, developed an entirely new type of shower caddy, Showergem, which neither rusts nor falls off the wall

Sean McGarry, who, along with his father, developed an entirely new type of shower caddy, Showergem, which neither rusts nor falls off the wall

 

Frustration with an existing product led Sean McGarry and his father, also Sean, to develop an entirely new type of shower caddy which neither rusts nor falls off the wall scattering its contents around the shower base. “We were fed up with metal shower organisers,” says McGarry. “They rusted and the suction cups never worked. They ended up on the floor of the shower with soap and shampoo bottles scattered everywhere.”

Indeed, according to McGarry, only one main type of shower organiser exists in the market today. “This is the metal caddy that we have all owned, and subsequently thrown out, at some stage in our lives. Despite over 20 million of these caddies being sold in the US annually, the products are totally unfit for purpose.”

The angst eventually turned into action. “I was in NUI Galway at the time,” McGarry recalls. “My father has worked in plastic manufacturing for 30 years. He spent a number of years working in Australia before returning to Ireland to start his own business. Dad kept talking about his frustrations with shower caddies and I said, stop talking and go ahead and make it, so he went to his workshop and did it.”

What he came up with was the prototype for the ShowerGem, a rustproof shower organiser that provides a neat and tidy place to store all of the usual shower essentials such as shampoos, soaps, razors and so on. “It offers a practical, stylish, modern solution to the everyday problem of shower clutter and its sleek, slimline design means it will suit any style of bathroom,” McGarry adds.

The ShowerGem’s patented perfect-fit shelf design securely hold bottles and users can even turn them upside down in order to get out that last drop of shampoo and as it is installed with a unique shower specific glue. Owners can feel safe knowing that it is not going to fall down on the floor.

“My father is a plastic fabricator by trade and the ShowerGem is made with engineering grade plastic. Metal rusts, glass shatters, plastic ticks all the boxes. You just apply a glue to a small wall bracket, let it dry for 24 hours and then clip the unit on.”

That was 2015, but there was a lot of work still to be done after that. “We spent over two years on further research and development of the product as well as testing the glue,” says McGarry. “The product has changed a lot since my father made the prototype in October 2018. The first model was quite big with sharp corners. The final product is smaller, more streamlined and much easier to clean. We launched it in October 2018 at the Ideal Homes Exhibition and sold 400 units over the weekend. Selling €15,000 worth of product in a single weekend was brilliant.”

That first weekend was no flash in the pan. “Business is great. Since the launch a year ago we have sold over 13,000 units in Ireland and the UK. We are talking to big retail chains in Great Britain and Ireland and are on the verge of breaking into America with shopping channels and other outlets.”

The business has been structured with rapid scaling in mind. “We will shortly launch in Germany, the US and a number of other countries. We outsource manufacturing to another Irish company at the moment. It’s very handy to have it manufactured just down the road. If an issue comes up we don’t have to get on a plane to China or some other place to sort it out. We have three full time staff at present and we outsource an awful lot of work to facilitate growth.”

The main focus for the future will be on the ShowerGem product but other innovations will be explored. “We are planning to look at other similar style products,” says McGarry. “There is a lot of other areas where people looking for extra strength but don’t have space for big units and we think we can provide solutions to those issues with innovative products. But the potential of Showergem is so huge that we are going to concentrate on that for the next while.”

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