Ricky Taylor of Lincolnton, holds up the Pillowhold, a device designed and patented by Taylor to keep pillows in place in a hospital bed.
“Disabled in body, but not in mind,” is the slogan for Lincolnton resident Ricky Taylor’s online business, and for good reason.
Taylor has lived almost two decades confined to a wheelchair after he fell victim to three gunshots to the head from an angry neighbor in 1993. At the time, Taylor was living in Linville Falls. The neighbor, he said, told the court that he fired the shots because Taylor’s dogs were keeping him awake.
The nerves in his neck were severely damaged, and he underwent surgery so doctors could try to repair them.
“I shouldn’t be alive,” Taylor said.
Before the injury, Taylor ran a construction business.
However, rather than let the tragedy leave him angry and bitter for the rest of his life, he decided to make the most of his situation.
While recovering in the hospital, he noticed the sheets and pillows on which he lay would not stay in place when the bed was raised, and his new condition made it difficult for him to adjust them. He started thinking up ways to solve the problem.
This led to Taylor brainstorming designs of products to hold the bedding items in place. When he was released, he put his plans on paper and was eventually awarded a patent for his “Pillowhold,” a mechanism that allows a pillow to attach to an adjustable surface of a bed with elastic straps that prevent it from shifting positions.
It took almost a decade and two previous attempts to get the patent, Taylor noted. But the third time was the charm, when his hard work finally paid off in 2003.
“My situation motivated me,” he added.
Taylor moved to Lincolnton six years ago, bringing his business, which operates out of his house, with him.
He personally packages and ships his invention “all over the world,” including China, Japan and the United Kingdom. Most of his customers, however, reside in the continental United States.
Taylor said he gets plenty of positive feedback from customers, adding that he’s yet to receive a complaint.
He has three employees in Lincolnton, one of who sews the products by hand. For bigger orders, he will contract the work out to a manufacturing facility.
Taylor also has a patent pending on clip-on straps to hold sheets in place on a mattress. He submitted his application for this invention about three years ago.
He said he hopes his business will keep getting “bigger and bigger.”
At the very least, he’s serving as an inspiration to those in similar situations, especially after people told him he was wasting his time with his inventions.
“It’s not keeping me down,” said Taylor.