By Teri Vance

Mario Garzanelli first learned to lay carpet as a 15-year-old while helping a neighbor in 1959. “He indicated to me that you hit the device with your knee,” Garzanelli recalled. “I thought at first it sounded totally ridiculous. I thought it was a joke. But it was true.”

After nearly 60 years of installing carpet — “kicking” the stretcher with his knee an average of 200-300 times per room with up to 700 pounds of pressure — has left Garzanelli, like so many others in his profession, with knee and hip injuries.

Garzanelli remembers telling his neighbor on that first day, “There has to be a better way,” and he continued to think that over the next six decades. Finally, there is a better way — thanks to a new device Garzanelli invented, with a little help from the Carson City Library.

“I kept thinking, I can save millions of knees around the world,” he said. “It wasn’t for any other reason than my conscience. I knew I had an answer. To just let it sit there wouldn’t be fair to other people.”

While he had come up with various ideas throughout the years, none of them were quite right. After retiring, Garzanelli, 75, dived into finding a solution. “I remember from my school days, I had a science teacher who was very much into inventions,” he said. “He indicated if you’re going to invent something, you start with the science.”

That led Garzanelli to the library where he checked out books about physics, mechanics, engineering and other textbooks.

“The idea for the tool came from Hooke’s Law of Elasticity,” he explained. “The books from the Carson City Library led me to the discovery of this particular principle, and that led me to creating the carpet-stretching device.”

The device operates off of a basic lever system, with two legs anchoring to the carpet a third one attaching to the carpet and pulling. The standard tool, Garzanelli said, provides about a 1 percent stretch. His stretches up to 3 percent.

“Safety was the first issue,” he said. “But the client is going to choose whichever tool is faster and more efficient. My tools all have to be twice as fast.” He said he can stretch an entire room of carpet in four minutes, faster than a traditional tool can even be assembled.

Garzanelli and his business partner, Steven Nichols, run triForce out of a Mound House shop and are starting to be noticed by the largest manufacturers around the world.

He also turned to the Carson City Library to research the patent process. He discovered an 1866 design submitted by Henry Hungerford from New York that operated off similar principles. “From my standpoint, I think he was just a couple of years away from coming up with the same design I did,” Garzanelli said. “It makes me wonder if something came from beyond to finish the work.”