President Blair Peet with company founder Gene “Father Dry” Peet

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He invented one of life's simple pleasures...

 

Gene Peet

He invented on of life's simple pleasures...

 

Thanks to Gene Peet, millions enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures every morning. The soothing comfort of putting on a fresh, dry pair of shoes or boots is a nice, satisfying way to start your day. For over 40 years Gene’s footwear dryers have provided one of life’s simple pleasures to people in all walks of life.

The story of PEET Dryer is an all-American one – an American-born product originated by American ingenuity. The small town of St. Maries in the outdoor paradise of northern Idaho was the birthplace of the footwear dryer. It remains home to this very day.

It all began in the 1960’s with Gene Peet being fed up with putting on soggy boots. He created a clever device that was surprisingly effective removing wet and sweat from footwear. In 1968 Gene was granted a patent on his dryer. Today people everywhere wake up to PEET Dry™ -  very special kind of dry that delivers personal comfort and added life to all types of footwear.

“Father Dry”

 

In March, Gene Peet celebrated his 84th year on Earth. We sat down with “Father Dry” and asked him to reminisce a bit. The story unfolds...

 

To start with, to truly understand something is to experience it for  yourself. When Gene was young he worked summers in logging camps and experienced what loggers had to endure.

Later in life he worked in the desert heat in Tucson, AZ, and had to deal with the constant wetness in his boots caused by sweat.

 

"Having wet boots all the time is really tough on you and your boots. Back then there just wasn’t a good way to dry out your boots before you had to put them on again."

Necessity is the mother of invention


Experiencing difficult situations inspires ingenious solutions. In 1961, Gene began tinkering with a boot drying system...

 

"Sitting around my kitchen table I came up with a plan to design my first boot dryer. My intention was to make a boot dryer purely for my own personal benefit."

Inventing the footwear dryer wasn’t without its struggles, but Gene persevered...

 

"I applied for my first patent in 1963. It took 5 years before I was granted the patent on the Original Peet shoe dryer. I was sick of the rigmarole and all the regulations of the patent process. It was no fun and I almost gave up."

Although his dryers worked extremely well, the early going was tough. Gene maintained his business as an electrical contractor to take care of his family, so his time was limited in helping grow his dryer business...

"Early going was tough. I was under-capitalized for many years – probably should have given up on the idea if I had any brains at all."

But word-of-mouth took hold.


Users were impressed with how effectively they dried, and how effortlessly it was to use his dryers.  Gene and son Blair outgrew the production line – which was the family kitchen table...

"The loggers were my best customers! Seemed like every logger in the state wanted one. Then hunters loved them.   Blair was about 10 years old at the time, and him and I were assembling and packing dryers around our kitchen table. We ran out of space. In 1978 I gave up my electrical contractor business to focus on Peet dryers."

What works is what works. No more. No less.
 

In this age of gadgetry PEET products are refreshingly simple. In fact most don’t even have any moving parts, and operate in complete silence...

 

"The machinery to build our dryers is far more complicated than the dryer itself. You cannot go out and buy the equipment needed to make  Peet Dryer. I invented the machinery. An example is our spin-welder. Using friction and high speed, this inserts the AirChambers into the base of the dryer. It welds using friction and high speed to set the AirChambers, which is far better than gluing. It is also faster and a better way to manufacture."

How different was the first dryer you built versus today’s PEET dryers?

 

"The very first dryers had a wooden base and steel tubes. I replaced the steel tubes with plastic. Today’s dryers are made of high quality plastics that are very durable, yet lightweight. As far as the guts go, we have made small changes maybe a dozen or so times, but no major changes to the design. It really works good."

Other than effectively removing wetness, what do customers tell you they like the most about PEET dryers?

 

"Without a doubt the two most popular things we hear from customers is how Peet Dry neutralizes odors, and how long our dryers keep working.

We hear a lot from guys who now are allowed to bring their boots in the house instead of them being banished by their wives to the garage or back porch because they stunk so bad.

We hear all the time from customers who are still using our dryers 20, 30 years after they got them. Our warranty is basically a lifetime warranty as you they just don’t wear out. We have never charged anyone to repair or replace a dryer.

A few years back there was a guy who wanted me to send him a new one for free. After I talked to him he admitted he ran it over in his garage by accident. We had a good laugh and then he bought a replacement."


In an era that has seen America lose significant manufacturing jobs, most of PEET dryers are still made in St. Maries, Idaho. How come?


"We’re old school. We’re proud to be made in America. We’ve always done everything possible to streamline things to keeps costs in line. We also save on having excellent quality control. There are some items we don’t make here, but many of our models – including our best selling one – are made right here in St. Maries."

Lastly Gene, tell us just why PEET Dryer has endured for over 40 years...

 

"It’s simple, really. My dryers are a small price to pay for all the comfort you get from them – both in the winter and summer – for many years of service. They solve a problem, do what they say they will, and are made well so they last."

 

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The Original PEET® Dryer — still our best-selling model — dries gear naturally, with gentle, thermal convection.
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