Kablooe Celebrates 30 Years of Innovation!

Author: Tom KraMer

Kablooe Celebrates 30 Years of Innovation!

What do Google, Tesla, and Amazon all have in common? No, besides the fact that they all basically print money these days.

The answer is that none of these companies have been in business as long as Kablooe Design. That’s right, this year we’re celebrating our 30th year of existence, and truth be told, it hasn’t really sunk in yet.

Thirty years is a long, long time, especially in the medical device world. So, let’s head back to the beginning and see how we got to where we are today.


The year was 1991. Jeffrey Dahmer was finally arrested, Freddie Mercury was taken too soon, and Operation Desert Storm was in full swing. In retrospect, it was not the greatest of years.

For me though, it was one of the best—and most terrifying—years of my life. I had bought my first house, was enamored with my one-year-old daughter, and just quit my cushy graphic design job to pursue my true passion in product design.

Like many great companies, Kablooe began in a basement, where I spent countless nights and weekends doing various freelance toy designs. Eventually, I was introduced to Dave Powell, a fellow freelancer for one of the big toy companies I was working with at the time.

It wasn’t long after that we decided to pool our resources and brainpower by going into business together, and Kablooe as we know it was conceived (my second born).


Naming a company is not nearly as easy as it would seem. As Dave and I set out in search of the perfect name for our fledgling company, we knew we wanted two things:

1. It needed to be short, unique, and memorable

2. It wouldn’t be named after us (lest that get to our heads)

We actually came up with a slogan we liked first: Exploding with new ideas. We knew then that we wanted the name to be something equally explosive.

Having grown up a fan of comic books, the idea of naming a respectable business after an onomatopoeia for a cartoon explosion was so absurd it was actually brilliant. Kablooe!

Thankfully, we were forward-thinking enough to tweak the spelling a bit to avoid any confusion with Calvin and Hobbes and (much later) blueberry gum in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


I don’t think Kablooe would still be around today if it weren’t for the painfully hard lesson I learned on my very first day. At the time, we only had one client, but we were fine with that because it was one of the premier toy truck brands in the world. What could possibly go wrong?

Well after only four hours on the job, I decided to take a quick break for some lunch. I turned on the radio and—I kid you not—the first thing I heard was a breaking news report that our client—that unsinkable Titanic in our minds—had just filed for bankruptcy.

I’m pretty sure my jaw left a dent in the floor.

It was that day that I knew we needed to put our eggs in more than one basket, and so I set out right away to land more clients and ensure the future success of Kablooe.


Since I couldn’t possibly fit all the major milestones, industry awards, and success stories into one post, I figured I would cherry-pick a few of my favorites to include here. I apologize in advance for the self-indulgent humblebragging, but I couldn’t be prouder of everything this company has achieved over the years.

· 1991 – Kablooe moves its offices from Osseo to Blaine, Minnesota.

· 1992 – We complete our first medical device design.

· 1995 – Kablooe officially phases out of toy design, and shifts its focus to medical devices, industrial products, and consumer items.

· 1996 – We add product engineering to our portfolio by hiring our very first mechanical engineer.

· 2004 – Kablooe wins a CES Award for an innovative surge protector power strip design.

· 2005 – We break into Human Factors Engineering to provide our clients with a more full-service offering.

· 2010 –Kablooe wins an MDEA Award for a rhinoplasty medical device.

· 2013 – We add our first biomedical engineer to the team to increase our scientific prototyping expertise.

· 2014 – We move into our current 12,000 sq. ft. studio. This more than doubles our workspace and allows us to grow to a 14-person staff. This was also the year we won the Best Places to Work in the Twin Cities award!

· 2020 Kablooe is acquired by Forward Industries. This strategic merger provided us with a wealth of new resources, such as state-of-the-art manufacturing production, software and electrical engineering expertise, and access to new clients around the world.


Suffice it to say, I’ve learned a lot in my 30-year career in medical device innovation. However, there are three particular nuggets of wisdom that will always stay with me and are arguably more relevant now than ever before.

1. There are two ways to learn something: the easy way and the hard way.

The hard way is by direct experience. This is difficult because that experience is often laden with adversity. The easy way is to hear wisdom from someone, taking it to heart, and acting on it. This is a lot faster than the hard way, and if you are paying attention, you can gain deep insights and learn helpful lessons you otherwise wouldn’t.

2. Being in survival mode forces things to happen.

You make things work when you HAVE to make them work. Thinking you are entitled to succeed at anything without working for it only sets you up for failure because when the rubber hits the road, you won’t have the grit to tough it out.

3. Really take the “trust your gut” advice to heart.

I have seen people push long and hard down a path for a bad idea that was doomed from the beginning. I suspect they believed they were trusting their gut, but in reality, they were only moving forward with something they were enamored with. Your gut is there to tell you what is right, even when the rest of you can’t see that.

For more sage wisdom, read this other post I wrote last year as I turned the ripe old age of 55.


As I write this, I’m looking back on a fantastic anniversary celebration this past Friday. A big thank you to everyone who came out and helped make the day a huge success.

From that disastrous Day 1 of Kablooe until today, I’ve held onto the belief that it’s important to be professional and creative—but it’s also important to have fun!

Kablooe Celebrates 30 Years With a Company BBQ

Are you interested in changing the world and improving lives through innovative product design? Let’s work together! Contact us today to get the conversation started.

With that, I hope to see all of you at our next Open House in October. Cheers!