Sailor turns inventor and solves a corrosion problem

CPO1 Alan McNaul (left) and business partner Victor Cunha pose for a photo at the Dragon's Den audition.

CPO1 Alan McNaul (left) and business partner Victor Cunha pose for a photo at the Dragon’s Den audition.

Rachel Lallouz, Staff Writer ~

Coxswain of HMCS Regina, Chief Petty Officer First Class Alan McNaul has turned from seasoned sailor to rookie inventor.

He recently created a trailer wire protection device, Connect-to-Protect, with business partner Victor Cunha.

Within a week of developing their first prototype, the two landed themselves a Dragon’s Den audition in February. 

Though they did not make the season’s cut, the opportunity has led to negotiations with Canadian Tire, Lee Valley Hardware, Lordco Auto Supply, and other suppliers.

“For me, this is a project of passion,” says CPO1 McNaul. “I love the adventure of going through all of the steps to get something out of a great idea.”

Like all great inventions Connect to Protect solves a problem. All trailers, whether heavy-duty industrial trailers, or boat or RV trailers, have a connector, or collection of wires, that are hooked to a vehicle to provide the trailer with power.

When not hooked up, the connector dangles unused off of the trailer’s front.

This makes the connector vulnerable to damage from moisture, dirt, and dust.

“You might get up one morning to leave on a fishing trip, and find the lights on your trailer won’t turn on because the connector has been damaged,” says CPO1 McNaul.

Trailer owners must pay between $30 and $60 to replace the connector, and, says Chief McNaul, time spent replacing a new connector means lost recreational time.

“Things start getting expensive or inconvenient for people who just want to get out and hook up their RV to go camping, or get their boat on the water.”

The Connect-to-Protect is a small plastic clip that holds the connector to the trailer, ensuring the trailer’s connector is up off the ground, free from damage that might be caused through dangling and exposure.

“We’ve been developing and patenting a series of different connector styles to accommodate all trailer types, plus producing packaging, building our website, developing a social media presence, and strengthening strategic partnerships,” says CPO1 McNaul.

“There’s so much involved in starting a business: researching, creating a business network, working according to tight timelines – getting all of the right parts organized and in place is almost like preparing a ship for deployment,” he adds.  

Until he retires, he is letting his business partner take the lead on marketing their product. Once retired, he plans to invest himself fully in the business and hopefully secure a licensing deal with a major manufacturer or distributor.

Anyone interested in the Connect-to-Protect should check out, or look up Hanington Innovations on Facebook where they hold a monthly competition in which customers send in pictures of their damaged wire harnesses for a chance to win a Connect-to-Protect product, or visit local stores where the product is stocked such as Capital Iron, JB Automotive Group, Fennel RV, and Tom’s RV repair.

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