ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Willmar couple's bottle-cap invention is a completely Minnesota product

Steve Vossen and Julie Vossen-Henslin have designed, produced and are selling their very own invention, created to allow consumers to use every drop of their liquid products. The Verso-Cap is a completely Minnesota product and had its beginnings in Willmar.

122419.N.WCT.TersoCap.0105.jpg
Steve Vossen, left, and Julie Vossen-Henslin hold up the Verso-Cap product Friday at their home in Willmar. They created Verso-Cap to retrieve hard-to-get liquid product from bottles at the end of their use. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune
We are part of The Trust Project.

WILLMAR — The spark of inspiration can happen at any time and be caused by the smallest of things. For Steve Vossen and Julie Vossen-Henslin of Willmar, it was the two inches of shampoo left in the bottle after the pump stopped working.

"I used to cut the bottle off," Vossen said.

At first, trying to solve the problem was just an idea, nothing concrete. Then the husband and wife team started thinking about it a bit more seriously.

"It continued to bother us," Vossen-Henslin said.

What eventually came from the inspiration was Verso-Cap, a patent-pending, bottle-cap invention that allows consumers to use every drop of product from their pump bottles, such as large shampoo containers or hand soap. The Vossens sell their new invention in a three-pack, a cap to fit small, medium and large bottles.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We haven't found a bottle they won't work with," Vossen-Henslin said.

Verso-Cap isn't the first time they have created something and marketed it. They own Ductcap and KZ Sales, both of which manufacture duct work coverings, another invention of Vossen and Vossen-Henslin.

"We've been doing it for 15 years now," Vossen said.

It was because of their experience and success with Ductcap that they knew they could do it again with Verso-Cap. The couple have been through all the steps before.

"We're not intimidated by it," Vossen said.

When they first started brainstorming about what would become Verso-Cap, the couple looked at ways to change the bottle itself, but quickly came to the realization that was too big of a project.

"It would have been far too expensive to redesign all the bottles," Vossen-Henslin said.

Instead they focused on creating a new cap that would allow people to squeeze the remaining product out of the bottle without the use of the pump.

ADVERTISEMENT

Even that was a big challenge, since bottles can have different neck sizes and thread patterns. Instead of being able to invent a one-size-fits-all top, the Vossens created three different sizes. They also needed to find the right design and material to use.

"I think we had about five failures," Vossen said.

The first step in bringing Verso-Cap to life was creating the prototype. They turned to John Wells of Wellstronics3D, a 3D-printing operation in Inver Grove Heights.

"A terrific guy to work with," Vossen said.

"He never rolled his eyes at us once," Vossen-Henslin added.

Once they finally landed on a design that worked, which allowed the product to be squeezed out but not leak out when not in use, it was on to the next step. They brought the schematics to H&S Specialties Inc ., a Glenwood company that creates products using custom, precision injection molds.

Funding the injection mold step of the process was a learning experience. It costs more than $15,000 to create the mold for the product. At first they attempted a Kickstarter campaign, but ultimately financed it themselves.

They had complete control over the product and self-funding also allowed them to go at their own speed, to make sure it was all done the way they wanted.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We've had fun doing it so far," Vossen said.

The first 1,000 Verso-Cap sets came off the manufacturing line this past August.

So far the Vossens have sold the Verso-Cap at a few arts and crafts fairs, as well as online at www.verso-cap.com . Word has started to spread and they are getting return customers. In 2020 they're already lined up to participate in shows up in Duluth and in Shakopee. Vossen-Henslin also plans to increase their marketing in the coming months.

"Next year, by Christmas, we'll be able to hit that hard," Vossen-Henslin said,

The goal is to expand the product's reach nationwide. They would also like to see the product in salons and other beauty companies.

"I think we could see some decent growth," Vossen said.

Everything having to do with the Verso-Cap from its invention to its packaging is done right in Minnesota. The couple's patent attorney is in the Twin Cities and students at Willmar Public Schools complete the packaging process. And like any good Minnesotan, they have a certain 12-day get-together in their sights.

"Eventually we would like to get into the State Fair," Vossen-Henslin said.

Related Topics: SMALL BUSINESS
Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


What to read next
Cases of fraud or alleged fraud have caused uncertainty and mistrust among some consumers in an industry that relies largely on the honesty of producers, processors and packagers to maintain the integrity of the industry.
Gary Tharaldson, North Dakota’s successful hotel developer and owner of Tharaldson Ethanol in Casselton, North Dakota, describes how his company will move forward after the death of chief operating officer Ryan Thorpe. Tharaldson urges people to check in on others but said there was no warning at work that would have predicted the tragedy of Thorpe's death by suicide.
Lida Farm grows for Community Support Agriculture customers, farmers markets and food stands, with a little going to a local food co-op. Since 2004, the west central Minnesota farm has changed how it operates to keep up with the times and what they can handle.
Availability of labor is becoming tighter and more competitive. Officials of the Farmers Cooperative Elevator at Rosholt, South Dakota, describe how in the spring of 2022 they offered $30 an hour for truck “tender” drivers, moving fertilizer and inputs to farms, but got no applicants. They were grateful for local trucking firms stepping up during the vital period, but understandably at a higher cost for the farmer-owned company.