Invent@NMU Helps Negaunee Man Bring Product to Market

Tuesday 26, 2015

Negaunee inventor Miles Parkkonen crafted a homemade tool that makes it significantly easier to clean paintbrushes, rollers and pads. The retired miner developed his Paint Scrubber in his garage a few years ago for personal use. Recognizing its potential widespread appeal to professional painters and do-it-yourselfers as a way to save time and money, Parkkonen reached out to Invent@NMU for guidance in bringing the product to market.

The Paint Scrubber is a small, wooden tool with a washboard surface that effectively removes paint from brushes and pads as they glide across the grooves. It also features a cutout on the side for cleaning rollers. Made of 100 percent recycled, environmentally friendly materials, the Paint Scrubber is moisture- and rot-resistant.

Invent@NMU is a growing program at Northern Michigan University that specializes in helping inventors, designers, engineers, entrepreneurs and educators turn their product ideas into reality and get them to market.  

"Miles had already completed a large amount of product development before coming to us,” said Dave Ollila, Invent@NMU founding director. “He had produced a number of units ready for sale and obtained a patent. While the program is set up to help people from the concept stage on through market introduction, we are also able to take on projects mid-stream to help move things along. We still brought the Paint Brush Scrubber through the validation stage, so we could all be on the same page, but then quickly were able to start working on details.”

Students at Invent@NMU have helped Parkkonen with packaging, sales, website development and achieving his goal of bringing the invention to market locally. According to Parkkonen, “The staff at Invent@NMU have lots of good ideas and working with them has been a great experience.”  

Both Parkkonen and Invent@NMU staff are hoping for a successful sales outcome for this locally made product. Retailing at $14.99, the Paint Brush Scrubber is now available online at and locally at Ace Hardware in Harvey, Marquette Wallpaper and Paint in downtown Marquette and Cattron’s Lumber in Negaunee.

For more information, contact Invent@NMU at (906) 227-6253 or, or visit the website at

Kristi Evans
News Director

Paint Scrubber (Invent@NMU photo)