The Inventor

Justin Madden

Q: What motivated your invention?
A: I can tell you the light-bulb moment down to the GPS coordinate. I was in my BMW 540i, taking turn 1 at Summit Point [Motorsports Park, in West Virginia]. It's a very hard, double-apex right-hand turn at the end of the front straight, requiring trail braking going in and a downshift during the turn. I kept losing speed and losing control in the turn because I was holding onto the steering wheel and sliding in my seat. My driving instructor told me, "You've reached that level where you've got to put harnesses in your car." But this was my daily driver, and I didn't want harnesses. So, I started to tinker with a few ideas and then tried them on the track. It took two years to find the solution.

Q: What are the safety benefits of your seatbelt-clamping device, the CG-Lock?
A: During [federal NHTSA protocol] crash testing, the dummies sit straight up. The testers also take all the slack out of the seatbelt. No one really rides or drives like that. Take your hands and stick them between your stomach and your seatbelt, and see how much slack there is. You're probably going to find between four and six inches of slack. With our product, the seatbelts don't get loose. Your hips stay in place, so the g-forces on your body are much lower. The data that we have correlates perfectly with the many testimonials we've received, where the paramedics and police can't believe that [occupants] walked away.

Q: How big is your company today?
A: Counting me? Two.

Q: How's business?
A: I went full time when I launched the product in 2004. I've stayed full time without any salary and lived off savings and my 401k. I had to sell my house, had to sell my car. It's been a labor of love from the beginning. Added to that, I've been on the track only three times in the past three years.

Q: What's been so expensive?
A: When I found out this product could save lives, I went out and got more patents. I did crash tests. I took my prototypes to an engineering firm, and they added a degree of robustness to the product, along with all the bells and whistles that an inventor can't do. Also, as a novice businessman, you don't realize all the little expenses you're going to incur. For instance, liability insurance. It's really hard to get, and when you get it, you're going to pay through the nose. And here I am sticking something on a seatbelt.

Q: What has kept car companies from committing?
A: I'll give you two answers: The first is, I'm a chemist. What the hell do I know? The second is that there's a lot of bureaucracy. Automakers said, "We're not seatbelt suppliers." And seatbelt suppliers said, "We're not going to do it until an automaker wants it."

Q: Are you still optimistic?
A: There's a saying that it takes a lifetime of effort to be an overnight sensation. In the last three months, we've talked to more people and gotten more high-level interest than we have had in the entire history of the company. There's every reason to believe we have a product that can be built right into a seatbelt. We're looking for a strategic partner to share profits with, because their experience and connections will save more lives than we can do on our own.

Q: And if it doesn't work out?
A: My son is grown up and on his own, so if I go under, I go under by myself. Mather's pride and joy is the CG-Lock, an adjustable clamp that attaches to the seatbelt latchplate and to the shoulder belt webbing to maintain lap belt tension, helping hold the occupant firmly in the seat. His newest product, the SeatSnug, holds kids' booster seats tight. Learn more about his wares at cg-lock.com.

Bottom: Mather's pride and joy is the CG-Lock, an adjustable clamp that attaches to the seatbelt latchplate and to the shoulder belt webbing to maintain lap belt tension, helping hold the occupant firmly in the seat. His newest product, the SeatSnug, holds kids' booster seats tight. Learn more about his wares at cg-lock.com.

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