Premier Christmas Tree Stand
Sturdy, red and green, with room for plenty of water.
Paul Claas is an ordinary man with a not-so-ordinary dream -- to straighten wonky, wobbly Christmas trees.
Some people stay up at night worrying about whether they turned in their work on time or paid their mortgage before the deadline. For Claas, visions of unstable conifers have been dancing in his head for over 20 years.
That's when the 65-year-old DeForest resident and inventor of the Premier Christmas Tree Stand said "enough is enough" and designed his first prototype for his personal use.
"It was a very simple concept where you'd drill a hole up the trunk of the tree and set it on a peg," says Claas.
Two decades and several versions later, Claas is semi-retired from running a truck salvage business (tinkering and fixing are clearly in his DNA) and he is continuing to produce and sell his novel tree stands.
The current version, made out of sturdy metal (in red and green, of course) features metal "jaws" that hold the tree trunk in place. A couple of knobs can be turned for adjustments. The result is a much more secure tree, less likely to tilt or topple. It's easier to make adjustments, too, after the tree is in the stand, unlike with conventional models. A large container for water is detachable, which makes removal easier (and means fewer trips to re-hydrate the tree).
"Each Christmas tree stand is my baby," he says. "This is my passion."
The entrepreneur, despite his zeal for his Christmas creation, has sold only hundreds, not thousands, of the latest version of his tree stand. In fact, in 2000, he sold off his inventory and decided to close up shop until a reporter wrote about his product, and Premier Christmas Tree Stands was once more.
Although sales have been fairly low, Claas still believes wholeheartedly in his product. And his converted customers agree, according to reviews shared on his website.
"I'll never have to buy another stand, nor will I ever have to fight with putting up another Christmas tree!"
"Where have you been the last 40 years of my struggles with Christmas trees?"
The price, though a bit high, makes sense. All of the parts are locally sourced. Claas assembles the stands himself in his home garage. He takes home 30% of the retail price of each tree stand.
Despite setbacks and what he describes as "headaches," Claas continues to stand by his invention. Every satisfied, less-stressed customer spurs him on.
"Sure, money would help," he says. "But more than anything, I'm proud of the product. I'd like to keep it going if I can."