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New Company & Product Introduced Today in Utica, NY

March 21, 2007, Utica, New York

Here’s a bit of a riddle: What do Mohawk Valley bankers, accountants, insurance brokers, and business owners have in common? Here’s a hint: The answer has nothing to do with education, salaries or clientele. Here’s another hint: Think rattan.

Some local professionals have begun applying a new, locally designed aesthetic to dress up that old office gathering site the water cooler. Called the WaterBasket, the item is a hand-woven cylinder basket that slips over plastic cooler bottles and includes a space at the top for plants or other decorative items. “It’s something different and a few of the secretaries in the office thought it was pretty cool,” said Utica-based CPA Alfred Kupiec, Jr. “It’s certainly a nice looking product and adds some value to your office in terms of appearance.” The patent-pending WaterBasket sells for $49.99 and is designed by local businessman Brett Truett.

In 1995 Truett, owner of industrial sensor manufacturer SoftNoze in Frankfort, NY, hoped to add a little “distinction” to his office setting. While placing a potted plant on top of his much-too-conspicuous office water cooler, he came up with an idea. “I’m always thinking of inventions,” Truett said. “The idea of decorating turned into a basket you could put a plant in and then I came up with a prototype.” That prototype turned into the The WaterBasket Company and related products are making their way into offices throughout the Mohawk Valley and beyond. One customer is the Bank of Utica, which is currently utilizing two of the “baskets.”

“It’s a lot nicer looking than just seeing the bottle there,” said Marie Bord, Senior Vice President/Comptroller for Bank of Utica. “One of them we put some artificial greenery into and that looked nice.” Covering the water cooler hadn’t occurred to Bord prior to seeing Truett’s product. “I never gave it a thought before but thought it was a good idea when we saw it,” she said. “People spend a lot of money to try to dress up their office space and that’s just a relatively inexpensive way to do that.”

The WaterBasket is one idea of many for Truett, a mechanical engineer who created SoftNoze in 1993 based on products he designed. And it is inventing and bringing those ideas to fruition that are Truett’s real passions. Case in point: the 44-year-old has approximately 300 ideas noted and filed in a database, most just waiting for time and resources. “He has more ideas than anyone I’ve ever known in my life,” Kupiec said. “He has them numbered in chronological sequence. I just think he’s got so much energy.” And it’s not just Truett’s ideas that captivate people. For many, his loyalty to the Mohawk Valley makes him a stand-out. “You’re not going to find anyone more dedicated to this area,” Kupiec said. “When he looks at an idea he’s not going to think of it in terms of more money but what it will do for the area. His ideas absolutely conform to his love of the city and to the area.”

Jim Brock, president of the Jim Brock Agency, a financial services and insurance business in Utica, agrees. “He’s creative, has a wonderful love of the community and a real positive outlook of what we can do in the Utica area,” he said. “The products he’s developed, through Soft-Noze and now WaterBasket, are creative, are thinking outside the box, and hopefully will lead to more success for Brett and more employment for the area.”

The WaterBasket Company is located at 10 Liberty Street, Utica. For more information, please call them at (315)793-2003.

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