Mike Dresher was out for a run one day when his engineering instincts kicked in.
“I saw a woman on the bike path by the river,” he said. “She was pushing a stroller out ahead of her, then running to catch up to it.”
In addition to looking “kind of risky,” it occurred to Dresher that the typical baby stroller doesn’t allow someone who’s jogging to move their arms naturally.
“It kind of stuck with me,” he said. “I have a habit of just writing down ideas, even if I don’t have the answer.”
Today, he thinks he does, as the developer of the JogAlong Stroller. He describes it as “an ergonomic jogging stroller” with moveable handles that allow the person pushing it to use his or her arms in “a natural running motion.”
It can also be converted into a stroller trailer that’s pulled behind a bicycle, or used as a conventional stroller with its arms locked in place.
“It’s kind of three things in one,” he said.
Dresher, a mechanical design engineer, has owned Delo Design for 18 years, mainly working on large agricultural equipment for Agco Corp. and other clients. He also has designed medical devices with his brother, an orthopedic surgeon in Colorado Springs.
Dresher said he started thinking more seriously about producing a jogging stroller while taking an engineering entrepreneurship course through Kansas State University. As part of an assignment, he had to create a business plan for a hypothetical product.
“As we dug into the (stroller) market, we knew it would be a premium product, but there’s still a market for it,” he said.
Dresher then starting developing prototypes, of which he says there have been about 15, with different combinations of wheels, arms and suspension systems.
“What we tried to do was make the arms as weightless as possible,” he said.
He applied for a patent in 2005, figuring it would take about a year to get approved, and initially planned to license the design to an existing stroller manufacturer.
“We had a lot of interest, but we ended up getting hung up in the patent office for seven years,” he said. “In all my years, I’ve never had one take that long.
“We kept telling these (stroller) companies, ‘Hey, we think we’re almost ready.’ ”
By 2012, when he received the patent, he had decided to retain proprietorship, with the goal of attracting financing through crowd funding. Dresher said he has been working on the JogAlong stroller full time for the past 18 months, as just about everybody who knows him can attest.
To test various models, he has loaded a bag of charcoal into the stroller and run through his neighborhood.
“I think my neighbors made some jokes about that,” he said.
He recently returned from a business trip to Taiwan, where he met with representatives of the company that he says will manufacture the JogAlong.
Dresher plans to sell the stroller through the JogAlong website (jogalong.com). It can’t be ordered yet, but people can sign up to be notified when the strollers are available.
Dresher isn’t ready to set a price for the JogAlong yet, but said he hopes it will be seen as a “new category for stationary joggers.”
“There are running strollers out there, but we’re the only ones that have any type of movement with the arms,” he said.