Chris Rusk Creates a Pencil Gripper That Puts Pride Back in Penmanship
Stetro was born about three years ago on the kitchen table of the Rusk home in Crawfordsville, Ind. Rusk's wife, Susie, was baking chocolate-chip cookies, and Chris was giving his 5-year-old son, Troy, a printing lesson. "He held the pencil like a steak knife," Chris recalls. Troy's dad molded a hunk of cookie dough around the pencil to give the lad a proper grip. It helped.
Rusk next made plastic versions of his Stetro (named for his children, Stephanie, 5, and Troy, now 9) and tested them on neighborhood children. Encouraged by their response, Rusk took a second mortgage on the house and borrowed from his family to sink $20,000 into his invention. He got a patent, rented a one-room office and quit his construction job. "Everyone told me I was nuts," he says.
With lists culled from library directories, he mailed 35,000 fliers to schools and educational supply houses. Soon orders poured into his Rusko Writing Company. Now, Stetros are rolling off the production line at a plastics platit in Noblesville. lnd. Made of FDA-approved plastic, a Stetro is harmless even if accidentally swallowed. Rusk should know. "I ate the first one," he says, "just to make sure it wouldn't hurt anybody."