When the wind blows so hard that rain falls sideways, who ya gonna call?
They're the Asmans, father Arnold and son Steve, who've lifted the lowly bumbershoot to new heights. Even in gusts of 60 mph, they promise, their Gustbuster umbrellas will not turn inside out, their spokes will not bend toward the sky, and their customers will not have to fight to keep their umbrellas from becoming airborne.
That's because the Asmans' new-wave umbrella has two overlapping fabric tiers, cleverly constructed so the wind has an easy escape route and can exit gracefully without turning the umbrella into a kind of parachute that tries to pull its owner off the ground.
Steve, 34, was a real estate developer on Long Island, N.Y., three years ago and looking for a new venture when he met the umbrella inventor, whom he declines to name--and fell head over heels for his invention. The man had been to every major umbrella manufacturer in New York, Asman said, and none would buy the patent from him. They were not impressed. But Asman was and bought it immediately. He tested it and found it performed almost as promised.
So his own engineers improved on the concept, and he tested it again in the wind tunnel at the College of Aeronautics at La Guardia Airport.
"Eureka!" they cried. "We've built a better mousetrap."
Not since Mary Poppins flew into children's fiction on her cane-handled brolly have humble umbrellas gotten such a lift. Business has been so good, the Asmans say, that they are tripling their production in new facilities now being built on Long Island. They are understandably pleased about the prospects for heavy winter rain in California.
Their umbrellas are used on the PGA Tour and are an official implement for CNN reporters. They start at about $30, at Brookstone stores and at golf shops.