‘Shark Tank’ Star and Lowes Launch Home Improvement Competition

From specially designed hauling handles to an innovative soil testing system, hundreds of small business owners competed to be featured online and in Lowe's stores. Here are the five finalists ... and the winner.

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More than 1,300 participants competed in Lowe’s first virtual pitch program aimed at supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs with home improvement products. The competition, “Making It… With Lowe’s” was hosted by Daymond John, star of Shark Tank, and had a similar feel to the popular ABC television show. Of the 1,300 submissions, roughly 400 products were evaluated before being narrowed down.

A panel of top Lowe’s executives, including CEO Marvin Ellison, gathered to hear pitches and ultimately choose which products they would feature in stores and display online at lowes.com. Five products were pitched, with three elimination rounds to eventually select a winner. All finalists were awarded grants of varied values.

Here are the final five products:

Grease Hero:  Shawn Santos, a property manager from Honolulu, HI, invented a specialized drain catcher after years of addressing tenants’ clogged drains. His pitched product was designed to prevent future sewer clogs. Made with recycled paper materials, it’s designed to fit inside a sink’s drain and absorb used cooking oil for easy disposal.

Python Plunger: Kim Huber, from Grant, Minn., pitched an innovative tool “combining the power of the rotating drain snake with the design familiarity of the household plunger.”

Handle and Haul: Joe Porche, from Metairie, La, was badly injured after being hit by a drunk driver. Looking for a way to better lift heavy and awkward items, Porche invented the “handle and haul.” Its innovative design safely grabs and moves bulk items with a tie-down strap and adjustable handle.

SoilKit: Christina Woerner McInnis, from Foley, Ala., created a product designed to allow consumers to gather and submit soil samples to receive expert lab reports. Those reports are aimed at giving farmers a road map to help keep their lawns and gardens healthy.

Lola’s Fine Hot Sauce: Taufeek Shah, from Des Moines, Ia., turned a decades-old family tradition into a successful business with his mom’s homemade hot sauce recipe. Lowe’s claims it’s the only minority-owned hot sauce company in the U.S. and uses the world’s hottest peppers.

“Acknowledgement from such a large company like Lowe’s brings such a feeling of validation that all the hard work to this point is paying off,” Santos said.

Watch the video below to see more about the five finalists, and which product was ultimately named the competition champion.

You can also watch the video here.

The Handle and Haul was named the eventual champion. Porche’s lift device beat out Shah’s hot sauce in the semifinals, and then McInnis’ soil tester in the finals. Lowe’s will sell all three products but Porche’s is already available. The online listing said the handle and straps have a maximum weight limit of 400 pounds and a one-year warranty.

“You go from an idea to a product and you work really hard — you just can’t imagine you’d be in a place like this and have an opportunity like this,” Porche said after being announced as the winner. “Words cannot explain how I feel right now.”

Lowe’s did not say if there would be a second competition.

Alex Shoemaker
Alex is an avid DIYer but had little experience before purchasing his first home in 2019. A Family Handyman subscription was one of his first purchases after becoming a homeowner, and he's been hooked ever since. When he’s not working, he can be found fixing up his 1940s Florida home or relaxing on the beach with his family.