An entrepreneur is taking advantage of our new focus on hygiene to promote a device which allows for the hands-free opening of doors
An entrepreneur is taking advantage of our new focus on hygiene to promote a device which allows for the hands-free opening of doors

Saavy entrepreneur sells a new clean way to open doors

THE war on COVID-19 will eventually be won but our new-found obsession with personal hygiene seems certain to last.

That means there are niche opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs eager to exploit untapped demand.

One such astute player is Brisbane gent James Byrne, who this week started production of a device that allows for the hands-free opening of swinging doors.

The so-called "StepNPull" is an ergonomically-designed metal plate attached near the base of the door that allows users to…you guessed it, step down and pull open.

James Byrne
James Byrne

The simple device, which retails for $49 and is a no-brainer for public toilets, has already been deployed by the likes of Energex, Origin Energy, Rio Tinto, BHP, McDonald's, Crown Resorts, Cochlear and UQ.

The product was actually developed and patented in 2007 by three gents in the US, where sales are now going gangbusters as you might expect.

Byrne stumbled across it (so to speak) last year during his travels there. He secured a licensing agreement with the US outfit and now has the distribution rights for Oceania.

Byrne started by importing the device but he now plans to churn out more than 100,000 this year from a plant at Eagle Farm. He also aims to export to South East Asia and South America.

The $50 gadget for opening doors with your feet instead of hands
The $50 gadget for opening doors with your feet instead of hands

Manufacturing in China would cost him about $10 less per unit but Byrne isn't going down that rabbit hole. "I really believe in Australia-made where possible,'' the former workplace health and safety manager told City Beat yesterday.

But China is causing him headaches nonetheless thanks to a proliferation of cheap copycats now springing up online.

"Our lawyers are working overtime to get listings taken down but the laws are written in favour of tech companies which take no responsibility for monitoring copyright infringement,'' Byrne said.

"We've spent a lot of money taking listings down that then pop up under pseudonyms the next day. If the Morrison Government is serious about Australian-made, and bringing the supply chain home, they need to help small businesses.''




Could the already-protracted battle for control of Brisbane-based miner Stanmore Coal keep dragging on? That seems almost certain.

It looked like a mob called Golden Investments, a subsidiary of Indonesian giant GEAR, had finally nailed down the $256 million acquisition after the Stanmore board recommended the $1 a share offer last month.

That followed the failure of Golden's $240 million takeover tilt early last year for Stanmore, which operates seven sites in the Bowen and Surat basins and notably acquired the Isaac Plains mine for just $1 in 2015.

The deal should have been done and dusted this week.

Instead, Golden has only finished up controlling 75 per cent of Stanmore stock after one of the biggest investors, M Resources, decided against offloading its 14.4 per cent holding before the offer closed.

That struck some observers as rather peculiar, since M Resources dumped a bunch of Stanmore stock last week that allowed Golden to reach the 75 per cent threshold.

Bloomfield's Rix's Creek Mine
Bloomfield's Rix's Creek Mine

Meanwhile, three Stanmore board members and CFO Ian Poole headed for the exits this week as flagged to the market earlier in the month.

Chairman Stewart Butel, along with directors Steve Bizzell and Neal O'Connor, have made way for four appointees hand-picked by Golden.

Among them is Queensland mining industry veteran Mark Trevan, formerly deputy chairman of the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal and an ex-boss of now-defunct Caledon Resources.

They'll be joining boss Craig McCabe, a former Wesfarmers top gun who only came aboard in March.


Even the Greeks are going online.

Brisbane's famous Paniyiri Greek Festival has been scrapped this weekend for obvious reasons but a digital version of the 44th annual gathering will attempt to approximate the fun.

A two-hour Facebook session on Sunday will feature cooking demonstrations, dance lessons and Bouzouki playing. Sadly, the smell of kebabs and sizzling haloumi won't fill the air.

Originally published as The saavy entrepreneur selling a new, clean way to open doors