Fall 2001
Vol. 18 No. 3

Burst of Energy

Amazing Discovery

Heart for Teaching

Tool Shed Development

Evolution of a Seal

Samford Ranks Fifth

Class Notes

 

Easterling's Quik Pro, Developed in a Tool Shed, Scores in 50 States

MIT, Yale, Georgia Tech and Stanford use it. Not to mention Boeing Aircraft, Federal Express, Little Debbie Snacks and the U.S. Army.

What is it?

Quik Pro, an indicator lockout system that allows respondents in a College Bowl competition or company training session to buzz in and answer a question. The first respondent locks out the others and gets a chance to answer. If the answer is correct, that person or team scores.

More than 14,000 Quik Pro systems are in use, making its manufacturer, Specialty Design Corporation of Bessemer, one of the top two such companies in the nation.

And it's a system that Samford alumnus Lynn Easterling '68 of Hoover developed in a backyard tool shed.

Easterling was teaching and coaching basketball at Oak Grove High School in the late 1970s when he was asked to add the academic team to his duties.

"I didn't like the [lockout] equipment that was available," said Easterling. He had taken electronics courses at Bessemer Tech and worked some in TV repair. He thought he could build something better.

He and an electronics technician friend, Ron Braswell, bought parts from Radio Shack and put together a lockout system prototype, which he used with his Oak Grove students. Both he and the students liked the new equipment better.

In the summer of 1983, he pitched his product to a catalog publisher that markets specialty items to teachers and school administrators. His system appeared in the next catalog.

"On Halloween Day of that year, I went to the mailbox and had 16 orders," he recalled. He and his partner set up shop in the backyard tool shed, and the business was off and running.

"I would coach basketball until suppertime, then work on systems until one or two a.m.," Easterling recalled. He finally retired from the school system in 1993 (after 212 basketball wins and three trips to the state championships) to concentrate on Quik Pro.

Today, Easterling is president of Specialty Design, which has customers in all 50 states and on five continents. It offers 17 models and sells about 1,000 Quik Pro systems a year to schools, companies and even churches for use in Bible Bowl competitions. It also repairs and refurbishes the systems.

Teachers like Quik Pro for regular classroom use as well as academic competitions, said Easterling.

"They tell me that sometimes students will press that button when they would never raise their hand in class," he said.

Easterling, a Clanton native, came to Samford on a physics scholarship. He also lettered as a walk-on tennis player. His interest in Samford athletics has continued over the years. He hasn't missed a home football game since 1986 and rarely misses a basketball contest.

Lynn Easterling '68 demonstrates his Quik Pro lockout system.