Have you ever wished you could just magically lay your tools and parts anywhere you may be — on the fender of your car, on the roof, atop the engine or scoop, or in the case of Grypmat founder Tom Burden, right on the rounded nose of an F-16 military aircraft you’re working on? Best case scenario, if you’re under the hood you can lay a tool tray across the radiator or in the slant of the valve cover and hope it doesn’t fall — and forget laying parts on your paint, much less at an angle where they’ll simply slide right off.
Well, the Grypmat, it turns out, is about as close to magic as you’ll find in the automotive aftermarket.
Burden, an active duty mechanic in the United States Air National Guard with the 180th Fighter Wing in Ohio, birthed the idea out of his wish to be able to lay his tools and hardware right on the nose or body of an aircraft, which as we all know, short of the wing tops, are anything but flat. And so he set out to develop a proprietary blend of silicone with the end-result a non-slip tool tray that will protect the surface of whatever you’re working on, and will both hold itself and the tools within it at up to a 70-degree angle. The trays, of which there are three sizes — a small, medium, and large — are chemical resistant, thus cleanable with brake cleaner or can even be put in the dishwasher, and they’ll remain durable.
Burden invented the Grypmat four years ago and put it into production two years ago under his company name, Grypshon. The company later entered the automotive market, realizing how great a need there is for such a tray by mechanics and do-it-yourself’ers. Burden gave the Grypmat a bit of instant fame earlier this month when he appeared on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank,” ultimately negating a deal with Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, and Lore Greiner in front of a prime time audience of millions — a once in a lifetime opportunity he says has already been great for he and his company, noting he speaks with the trio of business moguls “daily.”
We first saw the Grypmat in a few NHRA professional pit areas this summer, where teams were able to lay the tray across their rounded scoops and all of their parts and pieces would remain right where they left them.
“Tom was tired of his tools sliding off the aircraft, and one day he was driving along and saw the non-slip mats that go on dashboards to keep your cell phone in place, and as a mechanical engineer by trade, he felt he could adapt it to work on F-16s. He began selling in the aviation industry and then we launched into automotive, officially, at the SEMA Show this year.
The Grypmat immediately won awards at SEMA, and then was featured on Shark Tank two weeks later, providing it an interesting ride for Burden and company these last few weeks.