The iQ StorySarah Hurtado
“Necessity is the mother of invention.”Anonymous
Such is the case with the evolution of iQ Power Tools. iQ was built upon the premise of devising solutions for problems affecting the masonry industry and, by extension, the construction industry as a whole.
The iQ story begins with Joel Guth, a third-generation mason and contractor by trade. After many years in masonry and countless projects, he became frustrated by the inefficient processes that slowed the completion of jobs. At the time, masons would cut block on fixed masonry table saw stations, sometimes hundreds of feet away from where they were building. This process meant that masons would wait in line, cut the block, then carry the cut block back to the work area. This process was repeated multiple times each day, resulting in inefficiency and lost productivity.
Joel envisioned a lightweight, portable masonry saw that could be used to cut right where his masons were working. Nothing like that had ever been built before so he built one himself for his crews. Seeing the immediate benefit and increased productivity on his jobs, Joel approached MK Diamond Products, Inc. to produce a more refined version. Through collaboration with a design firm and contractor input, the first purpose-built dry cut masonry saw known as the BX-3 was developed.
This new masonry saw was a game changer. Masonry projects were now completed in record time and it seemed like a win-win for everyone involved but this new saw created a new problem; dust. Masons who were now able to cut right where they worked became enveloped in what we call “The Dust Cloud”. It quickly became the norm to see these dust clouds on masonry projects everywhere.
One project, however, would change the course of Joel’s career, mission, and life. Joel was the president of Masonry Technology, Inc. (MTI), a successful masonry construction company specializing in commercial, industrial, and institutional construction. MTI was selected to build the masonry for Chino Hills High School. The BX-3 was the tool of choice and the dust clouds were again being generated. During this time, the Santa Ana winds were exceptionally strong. These harsh winds were blowing dirt from the area and the dust from the project to a neighboring middle school. When the mother of an asthmatic daughter complained that the dust was aggravating her daughter’s condition, the job was immediately shut down. Joel sought out resources to fix the problem and enlisted his brother, Paul Guth, for help.
Joel wanted to find a dust collection system that could capture the dust. Paul began his search for a dust collection system on the “internet”, a search resource that was in its infancy compared to the internet of today. They found nothing. Not one to lay down in defeat, the Guth brothers again decided to build something that hadn’t been built before. They fashioned a blower onto a rolling cart and hooked up a masonry saw to see what it would look like and how it would work. They took pictures of this new contraption, copied them on to transparency paper. Using a projector, Paul began to draw a conceptual dust collection system.
They had to figure out how to filter the air and began testing different types of filters. The first attempt was an A/C filter. This proved too weak to filter the air properly. Drawing off their years of off-road motorcycling and job site forklift experience, all in a dusty environment, they came up with the idea to use high-flow diesel truck filters instead. Within the next few weeks, they had completely developed and built an original version of a vacuum system, filter system, and dust containment for a masonry saw.
The Chino Hills High School project was back underway and the dust issue was solved. After completion of this project, Joel went back to MK Diamond Products, Inc. and asked them to manufacture this new system. Joel offered to be the first customer and buy the first ten systems. MK did not see the demand for this new system and declined to manufacture it. Joel continued to use his invention on more projects. For the next few months, Paul and Joel analyzed what they liked and didn’t like about the system and came up with a list of improvements for the system.
It was also during this time that the hazards associated with dry cutting were becoming a major focus for OSHA. Silica dust generated from dry cutting garnered a lot of attention. Joel also took notice. He began attending silica seminars and learning more about the issue. Knowing that dry cutting was harmful to his crews, he was more determined than ever to create a masonry saw that captured this harmful dust.
Joel spent that year looking at his own safety programs, work practices, and methods. He knew that changes needed to be made. It became very apparent that an entire line of tools would be needed to make these important changes. This led to the creation of a new company called Industrial Manufacturing. Joel leased some space adjacent to his construction office, hired additional staff, and brought his brother Paul on full-time to develop these new products. Thus, Masonry Tec Products, Inc. and the Jack Vac product line, creating the world’s first masonry saws with integrated vacuum system, filter system, and dust containment.
They sold their first units at a tradeshow and continued to develop new tools over the next several years. It became clear that other facets of the construction industry would benefit from saws with dust collection technology. This led to the rebranding of Masonry Tec Products, Inc. to iQ Power Tools.
Today, iQ Power Tools manufactures a full line of tools with integrated dust collection systems for masonry, hardscape, and now tile. The innovation continues with a focus on the health and safety of construction workers in all trades. Educating the industry on the dangers of silica is an important part of iQ’s focus. iQ Power Tools’ mission is to build tools that save lives. With the new OSHA Silica Standard enforcement on September 23rd, 2017, iQ is working harder than ever to educate and inform the construction industry to “Know the Hazard, Know the Standard, Know your Exposure, Know your Options” and encourage everyone to take action.