Story last updated at 4:11 p.m. Thursday, August 15, 2002

Local invention opening doors
By Chris Bernard
Staff Writer

photo: business
"When the doorbell was first invented, a lot of people probably said, 'Why would I ring a bell when I can just knock?" Brant 'Boog' Torson  
If opportunity knocks while he's not home, Homer auto body repair technician Brant "Boog" Torsen wants to be sure he gets the message.

To that end, Torsen invented a simple device called the "Door Man."

"I'm just a small-town guy with a big-city idea," he said.

Essentially an answering machine for your home's door, the Door Man allows visitors to leave you messages at your doorstep when you aren't home.

The amiable Torsen came up with the idea a few years ago.

"Basically, it was just head scratching," he said. "I wanted to get a message from somebody who had been to my place. Nobody ever has pen and paper when you need it, and if you do, it's a napkin or something. What are the chances the wind and rain aren't going to get it?"

After seeing a television commercial, Torsen contacted Florida-based Invention Technologies Inc. with his idea. For a fee, Invent-Tech handles inventions from start to finish, including market surveys, manufacturing and distribution.

The company also handles Torsen's least favorite aspect of inventing -- legal wrangling.

"Man, there's a lot of red tape," he said. "I can't disclose a lot of details about the invention because of the legal process, but that's because they're protecting the idea, they're protecting themselves, and they're protecting me.

"It's nice to know there are people out there who can help you with this," he said. "I talked for a while with one of their attorneys before I got brave enough to go through with it."

Torsen drafted up a detailed sketch of his invention and shipped it off to Florida. Invent-Tech is now in the process of finding a manufacturer for the Door Man, he said.

"They have connections that I don't have," he said. "The manufacturer will buy the idea from me, and I'll get royalties from each unit that is manufactured."

Invent-Tech also gets a piece of the pie, he said. And though he's invested what he called "a considerable amount" of his own money in his idea, he's confident he'll get it back in spades.

"I do really think that once these things are on the market, they'll sell like hotcakes," he said. "The initial investment shouldn't make anybody shy away from inventing, because the payoff is going to be worth it."

Torsen has discussed his idea with friends and family, who he said unilaterally support it.

"My fiancEe is behind me no matter what, because usually I can make it work, whatever it is," he said. "But she said if I don't make this work, she's going to haunt me forever."

His 5-year-old daughter also supports her father's invention, he said.

"She also understands how it works," he said. "It's that simple. There's nothing very technical about using the product, or about the installation."

Torsen said he's hesitant to predict when the Door Man might hit the shelves of stores.

"It depends on a lot of things," he said, "but I think we're going to see it in the near future."

To skeptics, Torsen raises the ghost of another invention.

"When the doorbell was first invented, a lot of people probably said, 'Why would I ring a bell when I can just knock?' But now everybody has a doorbell," he said.

"And when telephone answering machines first came out, everybody wanted one.

"If you wanted to leave a message for a friend, if you had paper and pen you could just write it out and stick it on their door. But what if you didn't want anyone else to know about it? It's a pretty basic idea, but it does a whole lot."

Torsen has lived off and on in Homer for about three years, he said. Before moving here from Oregon, he owned a service station and raced funny cars.

"I traveled the states, Mexico and Canada racing alcohol- and jet-powered funny cars," he said. "I've done a lot of things most people just dream about, and I've been lucky."

He sees the Door Man as just another dream.

"It's been a long time coming, and I wish it would hurry up," he said. "But I've waited this long, and I can wait it out.

"I do know this about my idea," he said. "It will make a difference in the world someday."