WHEATON – They say necessity is the mother of invention.
That is certainly true for Wheaton resident Bill Zeuch, whose search for a way to display his comic books led him to invent a mounting system for comic books and album covers.
He launched a company, AlbumMount|ComicMount, two years ago with his personal savings, and the company is on track to top a million dollars in sales this year. Zeuch came up with the idea for a mounting system for comic books and album covers after wanting to display some of his comic books in an attractive manner.
"They had frames, but they were ugly," said Zeuch, who has a retail background. "However, once you make the comic book or the album the artwork, it's a different conversation from a design perspective."
His invention gives flat album covers and comics a 3D visual effect. The mounting systems will be featured in the Inventor's Corner at the International + Houseware's Show, which will run March 18 through 21 in Chicago.
"Rather than having the frame be a part of the artwork, we want the artwork to stand out itself," said his wife, Janice Zeuch, co-owner of AlbumMount|ComicMount. "So it's not about the product, it's about the design. The end product is not the frame."
The mounting systems, which sell for $5.99 each, are available on Amazon, eBay and Etsy, along with the company's website, comicmount.com. Those people who purchase one of the systems tend to be repeat customers.
"They buy one to try it, and then they say, 'Yes, boom,'" Bill Zeuch said.
The idea started out just on paper.
"He drew it out on paper, and called a neighbor down the street, who has a tool and die background," Janice Zeuch said. "They're friends of ours. He got us in contact with an engineer who knows plastic extrusion, which is how this is made. And the three of them sat at Starbucks for three months, talking about, 'How do I make this? What kind of plastic do I use? What's the cost? How do we put it together?'"
Their three kids – Nathan, 17, Gretchen, 15, and Lauren, 8 – help in the family business, doing everything from shipping the products to helping promote them on social media.
"Nathan helps manage Twitter and Instagram," Bill Zeuch said. "We gave him the title 'brand hustler.'"
The mounting systems are adjustable, allowing customers to display a variety of things besides just comic books and album covers.
"We have people using them for their museums," he said. "It also turns into a shelf stand. People use them in their kitchens for recipe books."
Bill Zeuch said he isn't surprised people have found so many uses for their products.
"Whenever you have a need, you search high and low to fill that need," he said. "I think that is what's happening."