Biographical / Historical
Benjamin H. Stansbury, Jr. (September 26, 1934-March 11, 1996) was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee and graduated high school from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (founded in 1883 as an engineering school). He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Architecture, earning a BS in Engineering in 1957. From 1957 to 1961, Stansbury worked for Walter Dorwin Teague Associates in New York as an industrial designer. At Teague, Stansbury worked on a variety of products and missile components. In 1960, he won the Industrial Design Institute Design Award Citation for the Euphorian dental chair (for Ritter Dental). While at Teague, Stansbury met Helen Marie Beheney (December 5, 1935-July 27, 2014) who was a secretary. The couple married in 1961 in California and had two children, Claude and Jacqueline.
Stansbury left New York for Berkeley, California where he joined Dymo Industries, Inc. as Director of New Product Planning from 1961 to 1965. At Dymo, Stansbury crafted a new corporate image and supervised plant and office construction. From 1965 to 1966 he worked for Mattel Toymakers in Hawthorne, California as Director of Corporate Planning and Acquisitions. In 1966, Stansbury, along with John Pylant, formed Product Specialists in Santa Monica. Rudy Hurwich later invested in the company as a three-way partner. Product Specialists focused on product development, manufacturing and marketing. While at Product Specialists, Stansbury developed and built a folding polypropylene boat called the Stowboat (US Patent 4,556,009) available in three sizes (seven, eight and nine feet). His marketing included the phrase, "Let's Go Stowboating!" Stansbury obtained approximately thirty-five patents, many of which were design patents. Almost all of the patents issued to him were assigned to the company who contracted his services. In 1969, Stansbury founded Innovation, a company to take conceptual ideas to the point of commercialization and to then license or sell them.
In 1969, Stansbury was hired by Industrial Design Affiliates (IDA) of Beverly Hills to help turn around the faltering design practice. After years of creative frustration working for someone else, Stansbury left IDA and founded his own design firm, the Stansbury Company, in 1973. Stansbury believed in giving creative people as much freedom as possible and all of his employees were encouraged to be part of the creative process. His company provided full service product development--concept, design, appearance models, engineering development, prototype construction and testing, tool patterns, and pre-production models. A strong emphasis was placed on engineering and manufacturability. Some of the diverse products created included: an exercise bike, roller skates, a smokeless ashtray, a sewage treatment device for boats, cosmetic bottles, surgical rubber gloves, musical toys, a dental chair, packaging (Elvis concert album), and special effects (twenty-four foot alligator) for the film Alligator and miniature sets for the disaster filmMeteor. In 1978, The Stansbury Company was awarded the Western Plastics Art and Design Award for the toy category (sun runner roller skates) and the rotational molding category (La Chair). Some of his clients included: Honda Motor Car, Mansfield Sanitary, Procter and Gamble, Max Factor & Company, Mattel Toys, Schlage Lock, Technicolor, Tomy Toys, Redkin, Jaybee Manufacturing, American Hospital Supply Company and Ronco Teleproducts, Inc.
Stansbury was also a senior consultant to the Bender Corporation, which advised large manufacturing facilities about air quality issues and engineering improvements. He worked with the company on matters related to fluid dynamic modeling and to devise optimal air movements/clearance within a structure.
Stansbury was heavily involved in local politics in Beverly Hills, California. He served as traffic commissioner (1973-1977) and as a planning commissioner (1977-1980). In 1980, Stansbury was elected to the Beverly Hills City Council serving as mayor in 1983 and 1988. After leaving politics, Stansbury continued to invent and in 1992, moved to King City, Ontario, Canada to pursue his invention of the PULSAR Electric Toothbrush (US Patent 5,259,083). The patent was later reissued (RE 35,941) on November 3, 1998. Stansbury was an initial shareholder in Pulse Innovations, Inc., a Canadian corporation formed to develop, market, and license the Pulse toothbrush. The other shareholders in Pulse Innovations included Spark Innovations, Inc. (SPI), a Canadian venture capital incubator and other investors. At SPI, Stansbury was Vice-President of technical services and acted as an engineering consultant and technical advisor on other products under development. In 1995, Procter & Gamble was given an exclusive development option for the Pulse toothbrush, but ultimately Procter & Gamble underwent a restructuring and returned its focus to core products which did not include electric toothbrushes. In 1996, Pulse entered into an agreement with Butler Gum, Canada's largest consumer oral care product company. Stansbury's children, Claude and Jacqueline sold their parents' shares in Pulse Innovations to other shareholders. Stansbury returned to the United States in 1995 and died on March 16, 1996, in Alexandria, Virginia.