Taped to the speedometer, hung off the rearview mirror and rubber banded to the sun visor, photos of loved ones are common car décor, but left unprotected, these pictures quickly wear and tear.
With his father's photo fading fast, Sam DiNello, 33, turned to Google and his best friend Michael Abraham Jr., 33, to find a solution. One year later, the men have patented their invention and Visor Frames are selling across the United States and Costa Rica.
“I lost my parents and had a picture of them in my car,” said DiNello, a Macomb Township resident. “I noticed the picture kept fading. It was wrinkled. I dropped it a few times on the ground. I asked Mike what he used (for his photos). He said he’d rubber band them to his visor, too.”
Searching Google for a picture frame he could clip to the visor of his car, DiNello discovered such a product didn’t exist.
“We’ve been entrepreneurs our whole lives and I said to Mike, this is it, we have to develop a way so people can put a standard wallet-size photo or memorial card in a frame and clip it right on the visor to protect it,” DiNello said.
Designing an aluminum frame with a rotating clip for horizontal or vertical pictures, the alumni patented their Visor Frame and set out to make the product a household name.
“We took an unfortunate situation – the loss of his parents – and we’re bringing it to a positive,” Abraham said.
Building Visor Frames in the Motor City
Leaving their previous jobs behind – DiNello as the owner of a Shelby Township landscaping company and Abraham as a commercial developer – the childhood friends celebrate their company’s one-year anniversary this month.
“A year ago, a Visor Frame didn’t exist, even the term itself,” DiNello said. “Our goal is to create more jobs here in Michigan and Macomb County. Nothing is for sure, but we’ve been talking assembly and stuff here locally so we can really sell this thing out of the Motor City.”
At present, Visor Frames are sold for around $9.99 in local stores such as Pet Supplies Plus and Hallmark, with Walgreens planning to add the product later this summer.
“My ultimate goal is to be in every country around the world, which would allow me to hopefully travel one day and see and experience the different cultures,” DiNello said. “The thing about being an entrepreneur is, if you’re passionate about what you do, it doesn’t come off as work. It becomes intertwined with your DNA. You just do it.”
While Visor Frames are sold individually in four basic colors – black, white, silver and hot pink – wholesale orders can be customized with screenprinting or engraving.
“We have that promotional aspect of the business as well,” Abraham said. “You can put your brand on them and give them out to your customers with a business card or to your employees as a gift.”
As the company grows, the pair hope to partner with local charities as well, donating a portion of their proceeds to the causes they hold close to their hearts.
“We want to give back to the community,” DiNello said. “We’re always looking to interact and give back. To raise money for a good cause is awesome.”
Want your photo in a Visor Frame?
Taking a cue from Jones Soda, DiNello and Abraham are hosting a contest on their Facebook page to find "real" people to feaure on their product's packaging.
Here's how it works. Using the Visor Frames Facebook page, share a photo of you with your family and friends (three-five people) for a chance to win $500 and be featured on the front of Visor Frames' packaging.
- You must "tag" everyone in the photo to qualify
- All people in the photo must be 18 years of age or older
- All people in photo must have a Facebook account
- All entries must be submitted by Nov. 16, 2012
- (5) finalists will be chosen by Nov. 23, 2012
- The finalist with the most votes by Dec. 14 will be the grand prize winner