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Clugston’s T-Rex Takes Bite Out of Attachment Market

Wed June 07, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Lori Lovely

With the arrival of the much-anticipated millennium comes the advent of many new business ventures. Among them is Clugston Manufacturing in Livonia, MI. Owner Scot Clugston has been in the construction industry for two decades, serving in various capacities and operating in many aspects of the business. However, he is starting off the new year with a new company.

Clugston Manufacturing is a small company, employing four fabricators to design and build specialized construction equipment. Clugston noted that all his employees are friends. In fact, since the early days his friends have been part of his business, as well as his life.

“I’ve always had lots of help from my friends,” he said. “They come and go in the business, but without them, I couldn’t have done all this. I have a good crew.”

In the past, his business has relied on word of mouth. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year that he decided to go public and begin an advertising campaign, complete with a video about his newest product. Nestled in a storage unit in an industrial park, the young company maintains a low profile. Until its newest creation raises its mechanical head, that is.

The dramatic appearance of his latest invention and “wonder tool,” T-Rex (patent pending), is likely to end the company’s low-key image.

Thirty-three-year old Clugston has designed a unique attachment for heavy machinery. With an inspirational nod to the dinosaurs from a long-ago millennium, Clugston dubbed his new creature the T-Rex. The resemblance to its pre-historic predecessor is more than coincidental. Inventor Clugston purposely modeled his progeny from nature. “All creatures except man use their mouth to work,” he said. The inventor merely applied this simple idea to machinery.

“I’m going to create different characters,” he said. “I want to create different looks, ’scary, powerful looks’.” While he toys with imaginative design schemes to liven up heavy-duty construction jobs, he admits that the variety of colors will match diverse brands of booms, making the attachment appear as if it was made for the machinery to which it is affixed.

T-Rex, the Mechanical Dinosaur

T-Rex performs all the functions of a small backhoe, battering ram, tree shear, cherry picker and grader. Clugston has used it in many areas of construction, from demolition to landscaping.

As a landscaping or construction tool, T-Rex is capable of placing large rocks, railroad ties or other object with precision, and without any additional manual labor. The mechanical dinosaur can reach over a six-foot fence to place large stones, then remove the vines and weeds from that very fence. It can grab large quantities of mulch and other fine materials, making cleanup quick and easy.

With four-foot-wide lips it can level soil. T-Rex can dig small holes for shrubs and trees, its bottom jaw controlling the dirt. The lips attachment is useful for digging, grading and scraping.

Another implement, the sod cutter scarifier, breaks up hard and rocky ground.

Able to work in close quarters, it tills soil and loosens sod.

Unwanted trees and debris can be removed quickly and with ease. And with

T-Rex’s pintle hooks (its horns), chippers and heavy equipment trailers are easy to move around the job site. The clever little beast can even hook up equipment to pickup trucks.

To help with demolition projects, T-Rex acts as a battering ram. It can crush roofs and other building materials with its powerful jaws, easily reaching the tops of buildings from safe distances. Its powerful jaws are capable of removing large chunks of concrete.

The lips attachment helps it grab large amounts of debris with a single “bite,” making for fewer trips to the dumpster. And while at the dumpster, T-Rex can compact trash, saving space. As Clugston said, “There’s so much wasted space in a dumpster, and that costs hundreds of dollars. T-Rex redefines the meaning of dumpster capacity.”

T-Rex also benefits the tree service industry. It is able to loosen tree stumps and rip them out. It also loads limbs into the chipper from a safe distance, compressing branches, snapping small trees in half and crushing tree crotches to assure smooth feeding. No additional manual labor is required to load logs into the chipper. Large logs can be fed into the splitter without the use of a grapple hook.

In his video, Clugston demonstrates how easily T-Rex can grab logs by picking up and spinning a 60-foot, 1,000-pound cottonwood tree.

It is adaptable to skid steers, front-end loaders and telescopic booms from virtually any manufacturer. Clugston claims one person can attach it in a matter of seconds.

The Vision: Simplicity, Expediency and Options

Economical use of time and manpower is the mainstay of Clugston’s business and of his life. “I like to get in and out of a job site fast, with the fewest men possible,” he said.

“I like options,” Clugston laughed. But it’s no joke. The inventor rarely refrains from altering every piece of equipment he’s ever seen, including installing a VW engine in his lawnmower, which he nicknamed the Scorpion. “I’m not a repetitious person. I always find things that gotta be changed there’s always a better way to do it.” He adapts simple, basic ideas to make his work easier, faster and more efficient.

Hailed as the problem-solver by his friends, Clugston imagines ways to make his work easier. “If I didn’t encounter problems, I wouldn’t have inventions,” he said. “It all started with having a truck. I got calls from everyone to do all kinds of jobs. From there it spread to cutting down trees. And from that, I got the idea for T-Rex.”

Although Clugston works hard and takes his business seriously, he believes in the ability to have fun at work. Perhaps that has something to do with having his friends as his employees.

A loyal friend himself, Clugston appreciates all the help he’s had along the way. He is particularly grateful to Michigan Cat. “They’ve helped me in a lot of ways,” he said. “The salesmen made a lot of opportunities for me — they demonstrated items, helped me with financing and did me a lot of little favors that got me through.”

The Birth of T-Rex

With equipment loaned from Michigan Cat, Clugston developed the T-Rex in his garage as one of his winter projects. It came about because of a particular sewer line job. He built a bucket and attached a hydraulic thumb. But the thumb damaged the bucket, so the young inventor had to manufacture gussets to strengthen the head.

Unable to leave any piece of equipment alone, he modifies every piece of equipment that comes into his hands. Then he proceeds to improve it until it has metamorphosed into a new form. “I don’t quit,” he said of his innovations. “I keep going at it until I have something useful.”

He rarely stops there. He continues to free-associate about products until he envisions numerous mutations and options. The businessman currently has approximately 20 specialty tools for the T-Rex under development, in addition to the pincers, fangs and two different edges (serrated and blunt) already available.

The Future

Because Clugston never ceases exploring new options for current problems, he speculates that one day he might like to end up in a research and development lab. In addition to T-Rex, he has many other products in mind. “I’ve invented enough equipment to keep me busy the rest of my life,” he admitted. “I have a lot of other cool pieces of equipment in mind.” At this time Clugston has two patents pending, and approximately 100 potential future patents.

Among his patent-pending designs is a grappler. He also has in mind a truck design to haul skid steers without a trailer, avoiding restrictive licensing issues.

Clugston Manufacturing is currently selling equipment directly, although they are looking for a distributor.

For more information about T-Rex call 734/427-4802.

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