John Rutty, 80, of Hanover has a long history of back problems.
"When I was very young ... I was run over by a truck," Rutty said. "My pelvis and legs were broken in that accident."
Since then, back problems have plagued Rutty. At one point, the pain and discomfort was so bad that he didn't want to sit to ride in a car. He needed to do something about it.
"It made me want to build something for myself that made it a little bit easier to sit in the car or in other seats that aggravated me," he said.
And build he did.
In 2002, Rutty built the first prototype of the Backjack, a lightweight, portable device that helps alleviate back pain and discomfort. The device can be strapped to a car seat or office chair and looks similar to a padded chair back with arm rests and an adjustable lumbar support made from memory foam.
The Backjack helps with alignment and good posture and takes a load off the lower back by creating some spacing in the lower vertebrae, Rutty said.
"It's a very important product, in that, at any point in time, millions of people are enduring a sore back," he said. "(The Backjack) is relief, it is not a cure. We don't want to promote it as a cure."
Over the past decade, Rutty has spent hundreds of hours researching, adjusting the design and testing the product.
And about a year ago, he was introduced to Stacey Mack, president and COO of the Hanover-based Duracart Sport and Health Products. Mack helped make his dream of selling the product a reality.
Mack and Duracart launched an online Backjack store Jan. 4 on the crowdfunding platform indiegogo.com.
At the store, customers can buy Backjacks, which range in price from $99 to $149, or donate to help fund the manufacture of Rutty's invention. Although the product is not yet available in local stores, Mack is hopeful it will be soon.
A few Backjacks have been sold at indiegogo since Jan. 4, and Mack said several other people and some retailers have contacted him about orders.
As the business expands, Mack wants to move the product developments that are currently being done overseas back to the United States.
"We are excited about the possibilities," Mack said. "We want to create jobs here in the York and Hanover areas. That's one of the reasons we launched the product."
John Rutty, 80, originally from Ardmore, was a student at the Milton Hershey School between 1942 and 1948.
He spent two years at Penn State, then took a "little time off" to join the service to take advantage of the G.I. Bill. Rutty returned to Penn State and graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1952 and later worked for American Airlines. He and his wife settled in Hanover in 1970.
The Backjack isn't Rutty's first invention. He also holds patents on items related to his time in the aeronautics industry.
"I hold a number of patents on product improvements," Rutty said. "One on the Backjack and others have to do with aircraft voice radio."
Interested in inventing?
Do you have an idea but don't know how to get started?
John Rutty suggested visiting York SCORE.
"SCORE is there to help innovators and those who are thinking of building something on their own," he said.
Rutty said SCORE volunteers can help you get the ball rolling on your idea and put you in contact with others who have had success.
"Just go and talk to people who have had some sort of success. Most people are willing to talk about their experiences," he said.
You can find more information about York SCORE at www.york.score.org.
For more information or to purchase a Backjack, visit www.indiegogo.com/backjack or search "Backjack" on Facebook.