October 14, 2006 12:01 AM by Joe Blackmon
Mark Martinez first invented the one-man, one-scoop, one-bag sandbagging device known as the SackMaster in 1976, “when I was in seventh grade and living in a low lying area that was prone to flooding.” At that time, he created it out of household objects, but on February 6th, 1995 he drew up the plans that would eventually land him on reality TV.
The world was first introduced to the SackMaster on Simon Cowell’s hit TV show, American Inventor in the spring of 2006. Before hearing about auditions for the show on his favorite radio program, Mark was working as a handyman in Chino, California just outside of Los Angeles.
“I’ve always been doing some sort of general construction work like roofing, flooring, tiling, or painting,” says Mark from the office inside his home. It is here that Mark splits his time between booking the handyman jobs that pay the bills and managing sales of the SackMaster.
During Mark’s time on the show he developed friendships with the other contestants. They were cloistered in an apartment complex in Marina Del Ray so they had plenty of time to get to know one another. Mark says they often discussed each other’s inventions and speculated about who had the best shot at winning.
“A lot of the other contestants believed I had a good chance of winning since my product was one of the few that could potentially save property and lives,” Mark says. Most other contestants came to the show with just prototypes or designs. Mark actually had a patented product that was ready for production. Nevertheless, he was eventually eliminated and sent home.
In an airport, shortly after wrapping American Inventor, Mark was stopped by a group of soldiers who recognized him from the show. The soldiers begged Mark to get the SackMaster to the Army due to the fact that overseas, in Iraq, there is tremendous need for sandbags and to meet that need the soldiers would often be put on back-breaking sandbag detail for hours on end.
Before even getting all the way home from the show, Mark already knew his target audience for the SackMaster. Originally he had thought of hardware store shelves, but now he realized that there were two areas in which his invention would be most helpful in saving property and lives: within the armed forces and amongst emergency preparedness officials.
Given the recent disasters in New Orleans and Florida, Mark was anxious to help. He set about organizing a tour of both areas so he could make donations of the SackMaster to emergency preparedness officials. Press conferences and photo shoots were organized and Mark found himself in front of the camera again. His reality TV experience was paying off.
Mark considers himself lucky. There are so many stories of life after reality TV that are overwhelmingly negative. The difference, Mark thinks, “is that fame and winning were not my priorities. My main objective was to let the people of America know that the SackMaster is out there and can help them save property and lives.”
Mark considers himself the same person all in all, “I’m just more recognized now. I am still working as a handyman, but I am now also working twice as hard on the SackMaster.”
It may be sooner rather than later that Mark is concentrating full-time on the SackMaster. He has gotten orders from the US Air Force Base in Travis, California and the United States Army Base in Ft. Rucker, Alabama. In addition, California Senator, Barbara Boxer’s people have contacted Mark to learn more about the SackMaster.
Mark’s on-going goal is to get the SackMaster to everyone who needs it. He’s concentrating on the emergency preparedness officials in his own backyard of Los Angeles right now. While LA can be a tough nut to crack, Mark’s confident he will succeed. After all, he has been “in the biz”. To learn more visit www.sackmaster2000.com.