Lift Innovations is the name behind the most advanced grinders available on the market today, packed with innovative features and built to last a lifetime. We talked with the company's founder Greg Moneta to learn about his background, production process and future plans. Read on if you want to find out more about Greg's journey and how these awesome pieces came to life!
You told me you started your career as an automotive mechanic. Can you tell us a bit more about your background?
Pictured above: The last 3D printed prototype of the Lift Grinder before it began to be machined with aluminum.
I seemed to have a natural aptitude to things mechanical. My mom always tells the story about when I was a kid - I would take apart my toys instead of playing with them. Finally, there came a point where I was able to put them back together. I convinced my dad to buy two old VW bugs at age 13, and I made one into a crude dune buggy that we drove around at my friend's place (we lived in a semi-rural area). I was always fixing and building things. During my high school years, I bought, fixed, traded and sold about 15 vehicles.
I gravitated towards becoming a mechanic just to support my habit. I worked for a couple of garages and partnered with one boss to race stock cars. I built and maintained the vehicles and we shared the driving. After that, I started my own auto repair business. After about 8 years, I became bored and went back to school and took Mechanical Engineering Technology. I got a summer job at the University of Manitoba, working for a Professor that was doing Alternative Energy research. After that summer I was offered a full-time job there, and ended up working 3/4 time at the University as an "Alternative Energy Research Technician" and went to school 1/2 time. Those were very busy times and I worked on some very cool projects!
From building cars, over designing turbine systems to creating the world’s most advanced grinder… How did that happen? When did grinders come into the picture?
I graduated from Mechanical Engineering Technology and about the same time the funding for the University job I had ended. I had trouble finding the job that I wanted after that. At about the same time there was a new "Maker Space" that opened in Winnipeg. It had a few million dollars worth of 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, etc. I hung around there and volunteered, ended up renting a desk space there and started doing design and prototyping work for clients.
There were other people like me at the Maker Space and we would always be talking and sharing ideas of products to make. A grinder was one of the topics and I ended up designing one and used the 3D printing to make prototypes.
When were Lift Innovations founded? What were the beginnings like and are you happy with the growth until now?
Lift Innovations was Incorporated June 5th, 2015, but the project started about a year and a half earlier.
Two other guys that were at the Maker Space joined and we did a crowdfunding campaign in Dec 2015 that lasted a little over 2 months. We pre-sold 1845 grinders and raised about $220,000 CAD. That was an exciting time, we went through about 10 months of manufacturing problems and fulfilled our pre-orders in January of 2017, about 8 months late. I would have preferred the growth to be better - but considering the obstacles we had, things are moving on at a reasonable pace.How many people are in your team? What do you look for in your employees?
The two other guys didn't work out and left in the spring of 2017. Currently, we have 3 full-time and 3 part-time employees. I look for people that care about something more than themselves. You have to spend some time with people to figure this out - so sometimes you take a chance on people and see how they turn out. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.You won a couple of awards for your vehicles at “World of Wheels”. Do you have any similar proud moments with Lift grinders?
It took me about a year and a half to accept that the product was really good, before that I was always waiting for something to go bad. It was a great feeling to get over that hurdle of a doubt. At a recent trade show, there were a handful of heads of companies that make other high-quality products that dropped by to say hi and compliment us on our grinder. Getting recognition by these people definitely brightened my day. Also, every time we get an email or social media post about our grinder from the people that use it on a daily basis are all proud moments.
Pictured Above: The Lift Innovations stand at a recent trade show.
How did your background in the automotive industry affect the design of Lift grinders?
It is very rare that a completely new idea emerges. Usually, new products are a combination of other existing products or systems that are put together in a new way. Being exposed to as many different mechanical systems allowed a library to draw from.
What differentiates your grinder from similar products on the market?
We have 1 patent pending that contains an application for 17 unique features. I previously made a list of all the details that the grinder contains. First of all, the stationary blade (the three spokes) cuts in conjunction (just like scissors) with the rotating blade (4 spokes). Because of the 3 and 4 spoke blade configuration, it only cuts at one point at any time, it cuts 12 times per rotation and is uni-directional (traditional back and forth grinding action). The serrations on the blades grab the material and the wedge feature on the inside of the cutting chamber direct the material to the cutting area. The cutting action (instead of mulching) of the rotating blade minimizes disturbing the oils and pollen.
The hex sifting disc holes pass material through faster due to the hex shape, and material generally only touches a few points of the hex when passing through - instead of getting stuck in a round hole. The hex holes also act as a method to divert and cut the material into the product chamber. Furthermore, the plastic spinner ring is on the interior of the grinder, and it prevents the material from spilling over and getting jammed in between the spinner and the cutting chamber.
The thickness of the sifting plate causes less drag on the material when passing through. The sifting discs have the maximum surface area of perforations (about 50% more than a conventional grinder due to no teeth)
It also offers the most uniform grind of any grinder. All the holes in the sifting discs are uniform and as soon as the material is cut, it evacuates the grinder and is not regurgitated. The shaft of the blade centers the spinner and maintains a clearance so the inside diameter of the spinner will never contact the outside diameter of the cutting chamber. It will never bind.
Moreover, we offer removable and interchangeable sifting discs and mesh screens in three sizes. You can stack the product chambers with 3 different screen sizes to have triple pollen sifting. You can stack them without screens to increase the cut material capacity (you could make a 10-foot tall grinder if you wanted).
All aluminum parts are media tumbled to eliminate all the machining marks that cause the material to stick in micro groves, one reason it stays cleaner longer. Commercial hard coat anodizing, using 100% organic anodizing dyes, no heavy metals. Anodizing is sealed in freshwater, no chemicals. All plastic parts and the thread locker are FDA approved. Every part (except for the threaded insert) can be disassembled, cleaned in Isopropyl alcohol. Lastly, we offer a lifetime warranty for all our products.
Pictured above: Dissasembled 3-piece Lift Grinder
You told me you’re an environmentalist. Does this influence the Lift production process?
I do the best I can to reduce my negative impact on the world and can always do better. There are many people in the world that are doing way more to help the environment than me. We do everything we can do to minimize waste and energy. We choose the products in our manufacturing process that have the least negative impact that we can reasonably afford - we are always looking to do better and can do better.
Who are your biggest fans?
Our biggest fan is anyone who has our grinder. We offered a bronze version of our grinder that we had so many problems with to get the proper color, we had to make about twice as many to get full units. After we fulfilled the orders that we were committed to - we had about a hundred 3 piece bronze grinders that were left over. We sent out on our newsletter that these were available and 80% of them were purchased by people that already had one of our grinders. We have a few people that are buying grinders for gifts - one has bought 10 already. We have another customer that told us they bought a second one and are keeping it sealed in the box as a collector's item. We also have a few people that are amputees that can use our grinder with one hand.
Do you plan to visit any events this year?
We will be at a few trade shows in the coming year, I am sure some other opportunities will be coming up as well.
What are your plans for the future? Are there any new projects in the making?
We have had numerous setbacks over the years and are still in a bit of a rebuilding phase. We have started wholesaling to stores about 6 months ago and are in talks with several distributors. We are making new relationships with others in the industry - things are moving forward!
We have a few new things that we are working on - so stay tuned.
Pictured Above: The Lift Innovations Team
We want to thank Greg for taking the time for this interview!
If you want to know more about Lift Innovations check out their website here. You can also support them on Instagram.
To purchase a Lift grinder with all the accessories, click here.