But it's not!
The holder will keep your box of tissues within easy reach when you need one
A Fluke engineer? That caught our interest in the amusing article in the Seattle Times.
Ed Eng spent 30 years working at Fluke, most recently as a staff engineer. After his retirement in 2009 he and his family embarked on a new venture, creating an innovative new product they'd been thinking about for a while.
As Ed's wife, Gail, put it, "If you live in the Northwest and have allergies, you're probably always reaching for a tissue, just like me. My husband was tired of my asking him to find the box of tissues in my car, so he made me the Tillie Tissue box holder, and now all my friends and family have one. They say they don't know how they got along without it."
Ed and his wife shopped for such a product in 2004 and again in 2008 - couldn't find it. Then, in 2009, Ed had some time. And he had some exceptional experience in product development and manufacturing to draw from.
Product development process
At Fluke, Ed was involved in the development of many digital multimeters (DMMs) - the Fluke 117, refinement of the 70 and Fluke 80 series, the Fluke 233 Remote Display Multimeter. As well as Fluke Biomedical's ESA 620 electrical safety analyzer. The product development cycle for products like these might involve Ed for anywhere from 6 months to a year or more. They were collaborative efforts, working on design and how the product was put together - its simplicity for manufacturing purposes and its serviceability. Ed had considerable experience working on plastic enclosures (cases) for the Fluke products.
That experience came in handy when he received the "product definition" from Gail. From an early prototype made from wood he moved to the familiar area of plastics.
Ed involved other Fluke retirees in developing his new product. Peter Popowicz machined the plastic prototype for Ed. He ran ideas by Larry Eccleston, who was also at Fluke for 30 years. (Larry has a new business, Precision Data Technology - a high-tech venture in neutron detection for the nuclear safeguards industry.)
Three carefully designed pieces fit together and adjust easily.
The simpler the better
One of the other steps on the way to the new product was writing a patent, which Ed found to be not as much fun. He had proofread patents at Fluke, but writing one was another matter - a bit tedious.
The Tillie Products Tissue Box Holder is a simple, even elegant, design for a utilitarian solution for a common need. Three pieces go together quickly and easily. It adjusts to fit virtually all rear-wheel drive and many front-wheel drive vehicles. Ed notes that the Design for Assembly (DFA) method was an important part of his experience at Fluke. The industrial designer's realm is aesthetics, and Ed's 30+ years of working with industrial designers shows.