Richard Behan has come a long way since his first attempt to make a snowplow for everyday cars ended more than three decades ago with his vehicle stuck in a Schaumburg street.
The 57-year-old West Chicago resident several years ago revisited the idea he devised in college and perfected it with the help of his wife, Paulette. The result was the Nordic Plow -- a plow that attaches to passenger cars, ATVS, UTVs, lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers.
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The company the Behans founded -- Nordic Plow, LLC -- last fall received the Up-and-Comer Award during the annual Chicago Innovation Awards. On Monday, Nordic Plow joined 22 other winners of the innovation awards to close the Nasdaq Stock Market in New York City, part of the prize package.
The annual event "celebrates the spirit of innovation in organizations across all industries, sizes and sectors," Tom Kuczmarski, Chicago Innovation Awards co-founder, said in a statement.
Other suburban companies that participated in Monday's event include Autonomy Works in Downers Grove, First Alert in Aurora, Life Spine in Hoffman Estates, Moxie Jean in Arlington Heights, Rabine Group in Schaumburg and Sagent Pharmaceuticals in Schaumburg.
Behan said the recognition continues to validate the hard work that went into creating the Nordic Plow.
The Hoffman Estates native was attending college when he first came up with the idea for his unique snowplow. After graduation, Behan was living in Schaumburg and built his first prototype in 1982. But testing didn't go well.
"It fell off my car, I drove over it and I got stuck in the street," he recalled. "That killed the idea the next two decades."
Despite that failure, Behan said he and Paulette would talk about the idea every winter.
"I knew somebody was going to invent this," he said.
So in 2010, the Behans gave it another try. This time, they got outside help to build the prototypes.
"I was in a position where I had some money," said Behan, who has his own CPA business. "So we actually spent the money to make it work."
The plow the Behans developed is made with a strong rubber-based plastic and weighs about 50 pounds. Straps are used to attach the plow to the front or back of a vehicle.
"It's basically like a shovel that the car is pushing," Behan said.
Officials with the Chicago Innovation Awards say the Nordic Plow is a welcome snow removal alternative.
"We're for the guy who lives in the suburbs or the city who has a driveway and wants to clear it in two or three minutes without getting out of his car," Behan said.
The Nordic Plow can be purchased online for about $600 through various retailers and by visiting nordicplow.com.
"The bad news for me is most of the press we've gotten has happened after this winter," Behan said. "I hope people remember it next year."