If it is true that “necessity is the mother of invention,” then it might also be true that “convenience” is its father. Inventor Jordan Thiessen, 35, knows a thing or two about both, having created a more convenient way to do the necessary task of cleaning cartridge pool filters, with a little help from dear ol’ dad.
Like so many inventions, the Cyclone Filter Cleaner — the first product under the Cyclone Filter Tools brand — seems disarmingly simple at first glance. The device, which retails at $299, is a three-legged collapsible stand with a plastic retainer at both ends, one of which contains a stainless-steel ball bearing. When combined with a specially designed PVC extension wand and spray nozzle, a pool pro can spray clean a cartridge filter while the ball bearing uses the water pressure to spin the filter in place. The result is a time saver.
Jordan, who helps his father Jeff Thiessen clean and winterize pools and spas in Nashville, Tennessee, had what he describes as his “eureka moment” while hosing off a spa filter cartridge in 2019. “I set it on the ground and as I was hitting it with the water pressure, the filter started to spin,” Jordan Thiessen recounts. “That’s where the light bulb went off, and I thought, ‘If this thing would just keep spinning, I could hold the hose in one place and go from the top to the bottom.’ ”
Typically, Thiessen says, cleaning a set of filter cartridges can take up to 15 minutes by hand, requiring constant stopping to turn the filters over and over again. With the Cyclone Filter Cleaner, users can perform the job 38% faster without the constant bending over and while only using one hand. Besides being time-consuming, the traditional way of cleaning filter cartridges can also be detrimental to a pool pro’s physical well-being due to the repetitive bending.
“I originally hated cleaning cartridges,” explains John Labrucherie, owner of A&M Pool Services in Jurupa Valley, California. Though still a young man in his mid-30s, Labrucherie says years of cleaning filters had taken a toll on his body. “My back was always hurting because I tried to clean the filters as well as possible. A lot of debris would get stuck in between those pleats, and it would get annoying because you’re sitting there, and you’re depending on the customer’s water pressure.”
Labrucherie became the first person to purchase a Cyclone Filter Cleaner upon reading about it online. “It’s probably saved a third of the time I usually would spend cleaning filters,” Labrucherie says. “Really, it is 10 times better than what I was doing before.”
Thiessen had no formal background in engineering, so developing the Cyclone took a fair bit of networking. A client offered to help him make a prototype in his machine shop based on a simple hand-drawn sketch. Within a week, Thiessen had a working beta version of the Cyclone Filter Cleaner, but it was not without its kinks. “I took it home and tested it, and it just spun like crazy,” Thiessen says. “It spun water all over the place.” Having not anticipated just how fast the filters would spin, Thiessen knew the next phase of development would involve creating a guard to protect the user from getting sprayed by dirty water.
Thiessen reached out to popular pool service podcaster and online influencer David Van Brunt for advice. Van Brunt was already familiar with the Cyclone from online discussions via his pool service GroupMe chat, which is followed by nearly 300 pool industry professionals. To Thiessen’s surprise, Van Brunt’s advice was inspired by an unexpected source: His 14-year-old son.
“I mentioned that my son does 3D printing,” Van Brunt recalls. “I thought he should give it a shot to see if he could 3D print the Cyclone.”
3D printing allows users to make objects from 3D digital models, typically out of plastic. Thiessen initially assumed 3D printers were mostly good for making knickknacks, but his concerns were quickly dispelled upon seeing the results.
“[Van Brunt’s] son made me these three plastic cone-shaped pieces and sent them out, a few days later. I tested it out and it worked great,” Thiessen says. “I realized that I was going to need to learn how to 3D print myself because I would need to make multiple iterations to get it just right.”
After teaching himself 3D modeling, Thiessen got to work designing and redesigning the parts he would need to make a final version of the Cyclone model. Thiessen knew the production and eventual sales of his invention could take years of work he couldn’t possibly do alone. Fortunately, he had a partner who wanted him to succeed just as much as he did: his father, Jeff Thiessen.
“He has always had ideas and input on what we could do differently,” Jordan Thiessen says. The best part of the partnership, Jordan Thiessen admits, was the opportunity to spend more quality time with his dad.
I’m proud of [Jordan, his son]. Not just because of the Cyclone but also his tenaciousness. When you need to keep making adjustments it’s easy to get discouraged, but he always had a never-die attitude.”Jeff Thiessen, Cyclone Filter Tools
For his father, a highlight of the process was watching his son demonstrate the steadfast attitude he tried to instill in him growing up. “I’m proud of him,” Jeff Thiessen says. “Not just because of the Cyclone but also his tenaciousness. When you need to keep making adjustments it’s easy to get discouraged, but he always had a never-die attitude.”
Jordan Thiessen is currently developing a version of the Cyclone designed to work with spa filter cartridges. Those interested in purchasing the Cyclone Filter Cleaner can visit cyclonefiltertools.com.