FLAT-D: WACKY IDEA OR SERIOUS BUSINESS?
“I do great business during white elephant gift-giving season,” Frank Morosky, inventor of the “Flat-D”, said. Flat-D stands for flatulence deodorizer. “A lot of people buy them as gag gifts, but many others have told me that I’ve saved their lives.”
The product is a filter with activated charcoal that has been designed to be worn inside clothing and is marketed especially to those who have medical conditions or who have had gastric bypass surgery. “Gastric bypass patients aren’t always aware of a major side effect of the procedure: an unusual amount of flatulence. These folks lose weight and assume they will be able to go out and be more social because of the weight loss, but they’re held back because of gas.”
The Flat-D basically allows anyone with this type of problem to be less self-conscious. They even make chair pads so that you can use the product exclusively for the benefit of your co-workers. Still, I had to ask Frank if most people giggle when he tells them what he has invented. “Oh sure, but then they ask more questions about how well it works,” he said.
Frank thought of the idea independently but when he went to do some research he discovered that a patent had already been taken out. He said Brian Conant–now his business partner–hadn’t taken any action with the patent. “He was very happy when I contacted him and when I told him I wanted to take on the marketing and distribution of the product. He called me what must have been mere minutes after he got my letter.”
QUITTING HIS DAY JOB
Frank has many years of marketing experience through his former position with Alliant Energy, but the success of the Flat-D has allowed him to quit his day job. Frank and his business partner have sold millions of products all over the world over the past fourteen years. Although lots of people dream about inventing something that will allow them to work for themselves, Frank said, “You have to have that spark and that drive to make it succeed. You really have to get out there and sell it.”
PURSUING OTHER INTERESTS
Frank and his family relocated here from Chicago about 15 years ago. “You have much better odds of winning contests here,” he said, “I win stuff from radio contests all the time!” He’s also been involved in many local theater productions at Theatre Cedar Rapids, something he doubts he could have done if he still lived in a bigger city. “I’m not really an actor–it’s just for fun. In Chicago there would be too much competition.”
The free time that the Flat-D has given him also allows him to enjoy his status as a “techie” keeping up with all the latest gadgets. “Have you heard of Amazon Echo? That’s my favorite gadget right now–it’s like Siri but more refined. That or my drone. You can fly so precisely with it!”
I had to point out the stark contrast between his interest in technology and his low-tech invention. “It is low-tech in the sense that there are no buttons or electronic components, but it uses the power of chemistry.”
Keeping up with technology alone might be considered enough to keep Frank connected and youthful, but his most consistent hobby, swimming with the Milky Way Masters, is his favorite to talk about. “I’m in the pool at least three days a week at 5:30 a.m.,” he said. He’s been swimming since college and with the Masters for ten years. Coincidentally, the Masters have won the state tournament for exactly ten years.
The group consists mainly of people over forty, but anyone over age twenty-five can join. “Swimming with the group gives me goals and something to work toward. I don’t think I’d swim nearly as often if I wasn’t part of the group. Ya know, we’re social animals.”
The Flat-D is helping many people enjoy being social animals. Due to Frank’s drive and salesmanship the product is even available locally at the Collins Road Hy-Vee. He asked the store manager to carry the product and they agreed. You don’t have to have a medical issue to want to try out the product. His website points out that someone may want to try it out for simple reasons such as following a healthy, high fiber, vegetarian diet. When asked about his most common review, he said, “Many have told me that I’ve helped them keep their job or social life. Even more often though, people say they buy it to wear in church.”
Story by Jessica Carney, Photos by Courtney Ball