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Former Las Vegas Bellmen Build a Better Doorstop

By Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jul. 24, 2007 - Brian Agster and William Hengler, two Mandalay Bay bellmen, spent two years designing and developing a doorstop that was easy to use, decreased property damage and was safer than the old-fashioned models.

Getting Strip hotel purchasing departments interested in their product was another challenge.

Today, bellmen, maids and guest room service personnel in thousands of Strip hotel rooms, including resorts operated by MGM Mirage and Harrah's Entertainment, utilize the Door Pro, produced by Vegas Doorstops, a business founded by the two bellman.

Agster and Hengler have taken the doorstop outside of Nevada. It is being used at more than 600 hotels operated by Walt Disney World, Hyatt Hotels and the Marriott Corp. The next step is getting the doorstop in the hands of a distributor, which could place the product into 26,000 hotels and motels worldwide.

In 2005, the International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show in New York honored the Vegas Doorstops' device with the "Best New Product Award."

By the way, Agster and Hengler no longer work as bellmen.

"We're really too busy and that's a good thing," said Agster, the CEO of Vegas Doorstops. Hengler serves as the company's president. The Door Pro is manufactured in Las Vegas and distributed out of Las Vegas.

When the pair came up with the idea, they made the pitch to hotel purchasing departments. The company's success, Agster said, was in understanding the needs of hotel operators.

"If you don't have a product that is different and solves their problems, you won't get into these big properties," Agster said. "It was not only an amazing amount of persistence, but most importantly a great product that got us through the door of these big properties. You are not going to get any time with these buyers and purchasing agents without a fantastic product."

Mark Stolarczyk, vice president of corporate purchasing for MGM Mirage, was the first buyer to give the two bellmen a sale. He said their energy and creativity impressed him. He said the product made sense for use at MGM Mirage properties.

"It's not often that I meet a new supplier for the first time and become as impressed as I was," Stolarczyk said. "They had a professional presentation and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and pride about their product."

Because of Nevada law, Agster and Hengler had to get the written approval of Mandalay Bay officials in order to patent the doorstop because it was developed while they worked at the casino.

"They signed off and told us to go make a million bucks," Agster said.

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To see more of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.lvrj.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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