To be an inventor means more than creating a solution to a problem. It’s an expression of creativity with boundless possibilities.
As the original pioneers of hook and loop technology, we’ve created innovative solutions for almost 70 years! Beginning with a visionary inventor, inspired by a routine walk in the woods, to the talented idealists that have taken the imaginary and seamlessly brought new technologies into existence, the VELCRO® Brand understands what it means to be an inventor!
At Velcro Companies, we celebrate innovation every day. That’s why we’re spotlighting team members and solutions, who have helped flourish great ideas within the walls of our organization.
Meet Jim Hillson, Global Category Manager for the VELCRO® Brand Consumer business and a team member for over 22 years. With heavy emphasis on product development, Jim aligns VELCRO® technology with the ever-evolving needs of the consumer. During his lunch breaks in the summer and spring months, you’ll find him gardening on our Manchester, New Hampshire campus, and of course, using the VELCRO® Brand Plant Ties to hold up his flowers.
With a passion for the organization, Jim finds awe within his job, “Hook and loop was invented over 70 years ago, and people still act like its brand new. It just blows me away how fresh it is in people’s minds, even though it’s a product that was commercialized in the 1950s.”
With the consumer’s amazement, comes aligning VELCRO® Brand solutions to a captive demographic. The key to providing successful products to the consumer is to, “find out where they’re struggling…At the end of the day, consumers love their convenience. They want things to be fast, easy, adjustable, reusable, flexible, friendly, forgiving and we’re all those things. You don’t need an instruction manual to use our product. We’re finding the fit between where consumers have a pain-point and how we can provide a solution.”
What’s particularly special about the relationship between VELCRO® Brand products, and its consumers are the endless opportunities for creativity and constant conversations.
“The coolest thing about our product is it makes people become inventors themselves.”
They hack their own solutions. If you talk to 100 consumers who’ve used our product to create a solution, you’ll probably get 80 different things that they did with it. People are very inventive with our fasteners and probably the most common thing I hear after ‘What a cool invention—-We could never live without it’ is… ‘Let me tell you what I did with it!’”
Tell us about your favorite products you’ve worked on?
I have two. One of them is our plant ties, which has been a huge success for gardeners and us. That was a product that was developed for the grocery market as produce wrapping, but we applied it to the consumer market. When we launched, some people told me that the product was never going to work because we wouldn’t compete with elastics or stretch-wrap. All we’ve done is sell it ever since– for the past 15 years! If I listened to them, we would have never launched it, and in fact, the convenience and the ease of using these ties have just made it a world-class product.
The other product that I’m very proud of is the VELCRO® Brand Sticky Back for Fabrics, which is an adhesive that sticks on to fabrics, with no ironing and no sewing. This came out of research, talking to consumers that didn’t sew, or iron, so we made something they can stick on and use. It took a lot of work, we were able to bring that into the consumer line and make it work with our hook and loop. Since the product has launched, it has just grown and grown.
“We have the world’s finest solutions that are much better than twine, stretch wrap, or things that have to be tied and then cut off. With us, it’s just wrap it and go.”
While our original invention may have begun with a walk in the woods and a burdock, today our team members continue to improve daily life by creating connections that reflect natures genius. The burdock will always be at the center of our mission but the people and our diverse solutions are what makes us unique.
Want to know more about how the VELCRO® Brand hook and loop was created?
- An Idea That Stuck: How George De Mestral Invented The VELCRO® Fastener
- What First Comes To Mind When You Think of The VELCRO® Brand?