Ever since I have considered putting my house up for sale and downsizing, I have begun to fully realise the need to declutter and keep things tidy – both in the house and garage – so when I came across Gearhooks and their tagline: Make Space. Save Time. Do More. – I was more than intrigued. Born out of a need to store mountain bikes, founder Luis devised a brand new storage system designed to tidy up clutter, keep gear safe, tidy, clean and dry in the minimum amount of space. I caught up with Luis to find out more…
Hi! My name is Luis Prtak. My dad is Austrian but I think the name is Czech. I studied Engineering at Leeds Polytechnic back in the ‘80s (when there still were Polytechnics) and since then have been a Production Engineer, Salesman, Sales Director, Commercial Director, started my own business, sold it, been a house husband (happy days), volunteer with SCOPE, Teaching Assistant, mainstream primary and secondary school teacher and currently a part time SEN teacher in a children’s home whilst getting GearHooks off the ground. Oh and I’ve also helped my wife, Fran, bring up Nick and Emily (Engineer and Archaeologist). The best bit was being a Dad and I’d do it all over again at the drop of hat. Fran won’t!
What inspired the setting up of Gearhooks?
Compulsive tidiness! All 4 of us go mountain biking and Nick does downhill racing too. We also like to ski, I play a bit of golf and I keep buying guitars to see if one will improve my playing. None of them have,by the way. It was the bikes that started GearHooks. Whenever I bought a new bike I couldn’t bring myself to part with the old one. Over the years, I had bought separate hooks to get them off the garage floor and got sick of drilling holes and moving them to accommodate new bikes. I bought a load of steel channels, threaded bar and bits and pieces to make a system where I could move the hooks around without drilling more holes. Friends saw it, liked it and asked me if I could make them one. After a couple of years of designing, 3D modelling, CAD drawings and prototypes we ended up with the bikes racks. It wasn’t long before I realised that I could use the same system, with a few special hooks, to store our skis, golf bags and guitars too.
What are the advantages of the Gearhooks?
Well, it keeps all my gear in one place so I know where it is. It’s off the floor where it’s clean and dry and I’m not falling over it all the time. It uses wall space which is otherwise not used. It makes it all look really smart, especially the guitars and it makes me feel calm.
Building shelf modules is the non glamorous part of my job as a retail merchandiser – and, I find, it is hassle most of the time – so, how easy is it to install Gearhooks?
You need some really basic DIY skills. One of the main things about the system is that you only ever need to drill 3 holes to fit the rail. Once that’s on the wall you can add more hooks, move them around with just an Allen key – the kind of thing you put IKEA furniture together with.
You have a variety of storage systems to store bikes, golfing gear, skis, snowboards, fishing gear, musical instruments … have you got other plans in the pipeline?
Yes. Most of them are all designed and ready to go. I just need to find the stuff to put on the hooks and take some photos for the web site. There are hooks and racks for gardening tools, DIY tools, tennis rackets and other sports gear, archery and target sports, water sports like diving and snorkelling, water skiing, wakeboarding, kite surfing, canoeing and kayaking. The list goes on.
My favourite is the gardening gear rack. There are a few around but none like ours. Most other racks hang everything next to each other, one item deep on the wall. Before you know it the wall is full. I know that I have at least 3 shovels, one of which I use all the time and a couple as spares for family or friends to use when they come to help. Ha ha! Anyway, with the GearHooks, each hook will hold 4 or 5 implements. That could be a hook for shovels or you could have a shovel, spade, fork, edger and so on all on the same hook. They are strong enough to hold sledge hammers, axes, chain saws and leaf blowers as well. If the rail is mounted high on the wall, you can store several rakes and brooms on a hook too. On a 1M long rail you could get up to 8 hooks and adjust them up and down to avoid everything clashing. That would mean around 40 different things in just 1M of wall space.
I love the photo of a row of guitars being stored via Gearhooks. Have you come across any unusual uses for your Gearhooks or any strange requests?
No but I’m hoping we do. I’m sure people must work in jobs where stuff needs to be stored so it’s out of the way but easy to get to. Maybe there are applications in hospitals or factories. We can design and make any type of hook to hold just about anything. Maybe we should run a competition and give away a rack to the winner?
Although you are based in North Wales, are your Gearhooks available worldwide?
We’ve already shipped to the Netherlands and can ship to anywhere in Europe including Greece, Romania and Serbia! No problem. We use DPD for next day delivery in the UK and its 2 or 3 days to most other places.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I’m lucky. I’m 6’ and slim (even though I’m a pie and beer monster) but I’m no fashionista. My son Nick is though, but he lives in Liverpool so there are a few more trendy shops around. Bear in mind this is North Wales. You’ll usually find me in scruffs for chopping logs or chasing sheep out of the garden or in Goretex biking gear.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
I hate shopping in person. It just takes too long picking things up and trying them on. Half way through a shopping spree I feel guilty and worry that the grass needs cutting. I tend to buy most of my clothes on line. The problem is I send most of it back so I might need to re-think my strategy.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I’d really like to relax enough to go to a personal shopper and get them to choose things that I wouldn’t. I love tapered jeans and slim fit shirts. I’d really like a sharp black, wool suit but know I’d never get to wear it.
Boots or Shoes?
I wear leather boots most of the time because I think narrow trousers sit better on a nice pair of boots. I’ve got a lovely pair of Loake shoes that look great but are a bit tight (I bought them on-line).
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Gearhooks.
We have a fairly new Twitter and Facebook pages but its best to look at GearHooks.com to see the full range.
Thanks Luis .. such a great solution to keeping the garage/storage area uncluttered!
Talking of bikes … my husband is riding the first stage of the Tour de France in Western France at the end of June in aid of Prostate Cancer – for info of the route, the story, the video, the charity – please check out the website: http://adamhobden.com
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Gearhooks.