Trail Blazers: LSU BE Alumnus Designs The Path-Maker to Clear Land

January 6, 2020

BATON ROUGE, LA – At one point in most people’s lives, they have tried to think of a simple invention that would knock the world off its feet. Take the Post-It, for instance. Who would have thought that a small piece of paper with a strip of adhesive would become so popular?

LSU Biological Engineering alumnus Kevin Holly had the same thought with his new invention The Path-Maker. The name may sound obvious, but he says its capabilities exceed that of its competitors.

After earning his degree from LSU in 2012, Holly moved to Ruston to pursue a PhD in biomedical engineering at Louisiana Tech University, where he currently serves as the director of the Laboratory Animal Facilities and teaches biomedical engineering classes.

One day in 2018, his fellow LA Tech alumnus Zach Russell called Holly and said he had an idea for a product development venture.

“I was sitting down doing some work and the TV was on,” Russell said. “It was ‘People’s Court’ and this lady was suing this guy because he left some small tree stubs sticking out of the ground in her yard. She had to rent a $2,000 backhoe to dig them out. I was wondering why on earth she didn’t get … well, shoot, I don’t think there is anything that would do that easily. I went to Kevin and said, ‘I found a problem; let’s solve it.’”

The creation of The Path-Maker began. Holly and Russell spent weeks working on and modifying the design, which now has patents and is being produced by an EPA-approved company in China. The Path-Maker is a lightweight machine capable of clearing paths through thickets for a walking, biking or hunting trail. It can also clear out bamboo, shrubs, bushes and land around large trees.

“Industrial-grade machines like this already exist but they are expensive, weigh hundreds of pounds, and leave stumps sticking up,” Holly said. “Our product addresses those issues and corrects them.”

The Path-Maker weighs approximately 40 lbs. and fits in the backseat of a standard-size car. A video on the company’s website shows just how easy it is for one person to fold the machine and put it in the car. The Path-Maker can cut debris up to 5.75 inches in diameter with no height limitations while its competitors can only cut saplings up to 2 inches around and 6-8 feet tall, Holly said.

“So this means bamboo is out of the question using these other machines,” Holly said. “On average, one is left with a 2-inch stump sticking up after cutting saplings, but The Path-Maker will cut anything at ground level, leaving nothing to trip on.”

The Path-Maker will cost $749, Russell said, which is about 80% cheaper than other brands that cost at least $2,000 for the most basic unit. It will be ready to sell early this year.

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