Strong as an Ape

dumpster bag innovators win Idea Challenge

Tom Giffey, photos by Tom Giffey

IN THE BAG. Steve Faacks and Chris Hansen show off an example of their Gorilla Dumpster Bag after being announced as winners of the 2015 Idea Challenge Dec. 3 at UW-Eau Claire.
IN THE BAG. Steve Faacks and Chris Hansen show off an example of their Gorilla Dumpster Bag after being announced as winners of the 2015 Idea Challenge Dec. 3 at UW-Eau Claire.

For Steve Faacks and Chris Hansen, winning the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corp.’s 2015 Idea Challenge was in the bag – literally.

The Chippewa Valley entrepreneurs took home top honors in the annual business contest with their creation, the Gorilla Dumpster Bag. The custom-made, bright-orange polypropylene bags can hold up to six cubic yards of garbage and are cheaper, easier, and more efficient to haul than traditional steel dumpsters, Faacks says. The bags can hold tons of trash – literally – meaning they’re big enough for commercial uses (such as construction or demolition) but economical enough for home uses, such as yard work and getting rid of the cumbersome junk in your attic or garage.

“No one’s built a bag like this before,” Faacks declares. The bags are delivered to (and removed from) customers with a winch-equipped mid-sized truck which can hold up to eight full bags at a time. This makes them much more fuel-efficient than traditional steel dumpsters, which must be hauled individually, Faacks says. The bags are supported by a metal frame that takes just a minute to set up and can be delivered the same day they’re ordered.

“No one’s built a bag like this before.” – Steve Faacks, on the Gorilla Dumpster Bag

Contest judges selected Gorilla Dumpster Bag from among five finalists for the grand prize on Dec. 3. As winners, Faacks and Hansen will receive $5,000 toward reimbursable business expenses, which they hope to invest back into the company so they can recycle the giant bags, making the business even more environmentally friendly. The prize will also bring added attention to the business, which has already been operating for a few months in the Eau Claire and Hudson areas.

“The most important thing that we’ve found is the people of Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley are so supportive of local, small businesses,” Faacks said.
The other Idea Challenge finalists, who also won cash prizes, were Aunt K’s Natural Healing Powders by Kay Widule, an FDA-approved, all-natural powder used to treat skin conditions; TenFour Team Trucking by Jonathan Summerford, Jordan Campbell, Justin Vajko, and Andy Albarado, an app that helps long-haul truckers pick co-drivers; Wave Stability Bar by Adam Shilts, a weight-lifting bar that uses new, innovative technology; and XanScan by Nick Marzofka, a technology that creates 3D images of physical objects such as museum collections.

The Idea Challenge accepts applications year-round from Eau Claire-area entrepreneurs who have ideas for new products or services. You can apply online or learn more at theideachallenge.com.

Learn more about Idea Challenge winner Gorilla Dumpster Bag at www.gorilladumpsterbag.com or (844) 244-2247.

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