Most Painters, at one time or another, have attached a makeshift paint bucket around their waist and tried to paint with it.

Ed Arndt took that idea to the next level...

I sat down to a phone conversation with Edward Arndt, inventor of the “Swivel EZ - Paint Bucket Holster” for an informal interview. I let him know that I mentioned his name and his Bucket Holster in a recent PaintTalk post, and asked if I might do a brief write-up about him.

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My crew and I have been using the Paint Bucket Holster since 2005.

I asked Ed how he came up with the idea for the Paint Bucket Holster, how he came up with a working prototype, how he manufactured it, and if he was ever a painter (?)…

It turns out Ed was a Third Grade Teacher right out of college. When budgetary cut-backs were made, Ed did not have seniority, and he was laid off. He bounced around to a few jobs, working at them until he “became bored”. He started working tool and die in his Dad’s shop, and from there went onto retro-fitting doors and windows for a small company, he then painted houses for four or five years. Ed said he came up with the idea for the bucket holster in the early 90’s while painting on his own historic home. He was always painting it, because it was an old wooden home that shed paint. His house had hipped roofs with overhangs all around, and many difficult spots to paint while on a ladder… and thus the idea for the SwivelEZ was born.

There appears to have been a remarkable effort to bring the finished product to completion (pre-internet), from the initial concept to a completed mold, design/print/package, and final boxing, etc…

Ed’s father was a Tool and Die Maker, and he and Ed created a protoype of his idea in his Dad’s shop. They came up with the initial version using a sheet of PVC slumped over a gallon paint can. The original version had a bottom and completely encased the can. He made several variations before settling on the final bottom-less version which featured a “swivel” and arms that wrapped around a gallon can - this took a year of trial and error, and three major re-designs. Patents for the SwivelEZ were filed in the early 90’s

The finished prototype was brought to a Mold Maker to have plastic injection molds made (the out-of-pocket cost being somewhere around $35,000 in the early 90’s). The original design utilized washers and bolts to allow the holster to swivel and self-level. Ed worked closely with the Mold Shop, and they suggested making the swivel into a two-piece design and incorporated a unique “Swivel Lock” built-into the plastic parts that connected the two pieces together while simultaneously allowing the paint bucket to swing freely like a pendulum. The final design was cleaner, easy to assemble and dissemble, and no extra parts to lose or break. The plastic was also upgraded to a durable and rigid, yet flexible Polyprolene (with functional Talc additive). Ed correctly felt that the slick Poly/Talc plastic would be beneficial when working with paint. It is notable that the plastic does not deform or show any signs of fatigue after 15 years of consistent service. (Ed has been accused of making the holsters “too well”).

The 2 1/2” webbing belt and fast buckle was purchased ‘pre-made’, as he felt that part was readily available and already high-quality. The Holster was designed to fit the belt he chose, and is fully adjustable to fit anyone’s waist, and can be switched for right-handed or left-handed use. The belt is a standard width, but the buckle is an upgraded plastic, with a secure lock-up.

The single Molds are made “one at a time”, so making a run of 1,000 is a fairly big order. It took a few years to get to this point, but Ed eventually had “The SwivelEZ- Paint Bucket Holster” ready for sale by the case, neatly packed into shippable cardboard boxes.

Now all he had to do was find the right buyer...

Ed spent years working the circuit: He had a booth at the annual National Hardware Show in Chicago for many years, as well as being present at Trade Shows across the country. Mautz paint, in Wisconsin, contracted to buy cases from Arndt every year, and he had numerous Sherwin Williams stores and independent retailers across the region that agreed to buy stock as needed (which is how I found and bought my first Paint Bucket Holster).

Over the years Ed has met numerous parties interested in marketing The Swivel-EZ Paint Bucket Holster, ranging from Traveling Einstein to Campbell Hausfeld. Campbell Hausfeld purchased 100 units from Arndt, and the two of them worked together to create a portable spray system, that sprays directly out of a bucket attached to the hip using Ed’s bucket holder design, and featured a custom-designed lid and syphon. In the end CH shelved the idea, but kept the belts. Other interested parties initially wanted to take the idea to production, but in the end cited a quarter of a million dollars in marketing costs as prohibitive.

Painting Contractors on the whole seem cool to the idea, and have not seemed able to grasp the potential usefulness (and safety aspects) of this product, seeming to prefer carrying a bucket up a ladder and hangin it on a clip, or carrying a cut bucket in your hand all day. As a Painting Contractor myself, I am not sure how to explain this, except that people are sometimes hesitant to try something new.

It has been my pleasure to know Ed these many years. I have spoken with him several times over the past decade- he has always been good about calling me back when I need to order a few more Holsters. Ed, now 74 years old, has a few health concerns, and has slowed down a bit. He no longer travels the country introducing his idea. He has retired from his day job, and lives peacefully in the midwest, although he says that he is now open to the idea of private labelling or liquidation. Ed says he still has a few cases sitting around, but he's not sure if he'll have another run produced.

*Disclaimer: The author is not affiliated with Ed Arndt, Edward Arndt Enterprises, or SwivelEZ “The Original Paint Bucket Hokster”, and does not profit in any way, either directly or indirectly, from the sale or use of this product.

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Photos are for illustration purposes only.
Seek professional advise before using this device in a potentially dangerous situation.

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