Carmel Magazine

CM Winter 2016 Issue

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(Clockwise from top left) Leo Cachu operates the computer-con- trolled waterjet cutting machine used to fabricate proprietary parts for De Luca Oven Technologies designs; part of a new packaging materials fabricating machine under development; engineers devel- op inventions using Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems; Kyle Inouye runs tests on a prototype of De Luca's new high-speed oven. Many think of an inventor as a guy who looks like the character Doc of the "Back to the Future" movies: a skinny guy sporting a stained lab coat complete with a pocket protector full of pens, wild hair and even wilder eyes, constantly exclaiming, "Great Scott!" But with his immaculately pressed dress shirts, impeccable grooming and calm, smiling manner, De Luca could easily pass for an attorney or physician. But this is an idea man, always conjuring up ways that things can be done better. "You have to be a little grouchy to be an inventor," De Luca told Inventors Digest in 1997. "If there's something you don't like, you have to have the guts to say you don't like it and try to find a better way." His first "better way" was the result of seeing how much waste was gen- erated by the packaging industry. "Enough Styrofoam packaging peanuts were being used annually to fill the Astrodome 31 times," De Luca says. "And they were all going into landfills." While still a student of mechanical engineering at MIT, he and a partner developed an alternative named Novus PillowPak, for which they won the university's 10K Entrepreneurial Competition. One of their first clients was Williams Sonoma. The mail- order kitchen supplier was using two semi-trailers full of peanuts daily. "We replaced all that with three machines," the inventor says. "We live in a risk-averse culture," De Luca says. 'But I think it's OK to fail; that's how we learn. You do have a chance of getting hurt, financially, emotionally, even physically. Look how many people died developing the airplane. It's only through failure that we get anywhere." He speaks about "disruptive technologies" as those that break the mold and change the C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 6 175

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