The Story of The Mess UP Tray


The idea for the Mess Up Tray originated some 30 years ago.  With 2 small children and several pets there were always messes to clean up.  Frustrated that of all the hundreds of utensils in the kitchen there just wasn’t anything you could quickly grab to clean up a mess.

There was no way I was going to use a traditional cleaning tool like a vac, mop, or broom to clean up pet waste or a broken jar of jelly on the floor.  What did that leave?  Paper towels or maybe a cardboard box that you could somehow scrape the mess into. 

I knew there had to be a better way.  One day I got the idea to buy a squeegee for a v- shaped tray I had at home.  The tray was about a foot long, four inches wide at the top with a rounded bottom.  I cut the squeegee to fit the tray and man it worked pretty slick.  I also loved how easy it was to clean and store.  It certainly wasn’t the perfect tool but it solved a problem.  I kept this rough prototype for 30 years, but always new there needed to be a tool designed specifically for this task.

So why did I wait so long to pursue this idea?  I was busy growing a business I started 20 years ago at home in my workshop.  I had a small woodworking business that required a lot of sanding and produced a lot of dust.  Just a very unhealthy, health threating environment.  I either had to find another way to make a living or solve the dust problem.  So I came up with a line of self-contained down draft tables.  I figured if I had this problem than there must be thousands of other shops that needed this product.  Thus began Sandman Products LLC.  My son Nate has worked with me in this business from the beginning and now runs the company.  After 15 years in business I now had the time, confidence, and business experience to see if I could design the perfect clean up tool.

First I needed to determine if such a product existed in the marketplace.  I couldn’t find anything that came close to what I envisioned such a product should look like.  So I decided to go ahead and see if I could design the perfect clean up tray. 

I knew it had to be just the right size and shape with a ramp and reservoir to hold the mess.  It also needed to be compact so it would be easy to Use, Clean, and Store.  That meant no protruding handle; instead build the handle right into the back wall of the tray.  Also figure out how to conveniently store a squeegee in the tray so they would always be together for quick use.  In the meantime I began searching stores for a squeegee that might work. I could hardly believe it when I spied the perfect straight line squeegee. Now I just needed to figure out how to hold it in the tray.

I drew a rough sketch of the tray and headed for SandMan Product’s metal department.  In a couple hours we had cut, bent, and welded the first prototype. After some evaluation we made some changes and made a much better 2nd one.  I even added a piece of wood trim on the back wall to make it more comfortable to hold.  Now I had a crude prototype that I could take to a plastic shop.  I had saved an article out of the local paper of a vacuum plastic company that made prototypes.  They worked with me to make some improvements and in about 6 weeks I had my first plastic prototype.  Very exciting and a big improvement over the heavy metal one I had made, but still a long way from a finished product.  They recommended I go see B & B Molders a local injection molding company.  That was some of the best advice I ever received. Their engineers worked with me for about 2 months to get the drawing just right for the perfect tray; just like I had envisioned from the beginning.  Next they made me a 3D printed copy.  A week later Kevin their sales engineer walked into my office with a smile on his face holding something behind his back.  “Lloyd, I got something for you.” Wow, it was beautiful!  Some 35 years after my first prototype I had created the perfect tool to quickly clean up a mess.

To make this cleanup tool really useful it had to be stored somewhere you could grab it in seconds.  It needed a home, not buried in a cabinet or drawer.  I kept asking myself where could it be stored that didn’t borrow from any other used space in the kitchen.  Than it hit me! How about the cabinet wall under the sink beside the garbage disposal.  But hanging it from a hook is not very handy because it’s hard to see under there.  Then I got an idea, how about a bracket on the wall that the tray simply slides into.  So than it was back to B & B molders to design the bracket.

While all this was going on I applied for a utility patent and trademark registration.  My patent attorney told me because of my age I could file under a FastTrack program.  Normally it takes up to 24 months; I was granted my patent in just 5 months.

The Mess Up Tray system is as easy as: 1) Squeegee 2) Rinse 3) Store.

It’s so easy even a child will love to clean up their own messes.

It’ the 10 Second Clean-Up Tool for Under $10.00.