The prototype wagon was made of wood but the finished one will be plastic.
By STEPHANIE UJHELYI
YOUNGSTOWN -- For a Canfield real estate agent with three children, necessity is really the mother of invention.
During a press conference Wednesday at the Children's Museum of Youngstown, Stephanie Soloman unveiled a prototype of her X-Pandable Wagon, which has been five years in the works.
The wagon, which measures 22 inches long and 14 inches wide when expanded, was developed as a result of her family's travel dilemmas and fits conveniently into hotel closets, carry-on luggage, overhead compartments on an airplane and car trunks. Soloman said it is a more comfortable fit for parents who travel with small children, because it takes up less space than standard strollers plus provide extra storage spaces for diaper bags and suitcases.
Standard wagons are too large and heavy to take on a trip. Creating the wagon did have its challenges, Soloman found. While it had to be compact enough to stow away, it needs to be lightweight, yet sturdy, yet large enough to tote around at least two small children.
Soloman, who has a graduate degree in marriage and family counseling from The Ohio State University, worked late into the evenings after coming home from working at Howard Hanna. She developed the plans for a basic design, obtained a patent and worked with a designer to construct the prototype.
Her patent attorney, Bob Herberger of Youngstown, was equally as excited about her invention. After all, he had six children of his own.
The prototype was made of wood with a laminate finish, but the finished wagon will be plastic and weigh about 10 pounds. Solomon said she has spent around $20,000 on developing this idea.
Robert M. Hahn of the Keynote Media Group explained that Soloman hopes to license a manufacturer to produce the product, so she can sit back and collect the royalties.
The wagon has vast transportation promise. Hahn said, "We are not only marketing this product to toy manufacturers." Besides transporting children in place of strollers, the wagon can transport purchases or other items.
Several manufacturers have expressed interest in producing the X-Pandable Wagon. Soloman hopes to hear in the next couple weeks if she has any takers.
Once you look at the scuff marks on the prototype from the kids playing with it, one can see that it is a family effort.
"The whole process inspiring them to think creatively. It really is their idea as much as it is mine," Soloman said. She lives in Canfield with her three children, Andrew, 11; Brandy, 8, and Shira, 6.