One day while trying to figure out how to fix the droopy hose that was the eventual destiny of even the tightest pull-down sprayer, Al Nelson was playing around with a couple of magnetic disks. “I mocked something up with a pencil, tape and the magnets, and asked my coworkers what they thought. They all said, ‘Whoa, you’ve got to patent that idea.’” Three years later, in 2008, after dozens of tweaks and one memorable trip to the patent office, MagnaTite® docking was born.
Someone once told Nelson, an outdoorsy Michigan native, to look to nature for design inspiration, a suggestion he’s taken to heart. “Delta’s beverage-faucet stream was aerated, which I didn’t like, so I redesigned it to look more like pure water flowing in a stream. Customers loved it.”
Back in the ‘80s, before joining Delta, Nelson worked for the National Sanitation Foundation. Evaluating Dairy Queen’s first Blizzard machine was part of his job—along with eating ice cream. “It was a cool thing. We were testing the temperature and trying out a lot of soft-serve,” Nelson says. “People from other departments would know when the machines were being tested and would bring in fixings and cones!”
Nelson’s wife was at their son’s baseball game when another parent, who knew of the family’s Delta connection, raved about the magnetic feature on the faucet he just bought. “My husband did that!” she proudly exclaimed. How did the compliment make the 28-year Delta veteran feel? “Surprised,” he says, “that someone would be thinking about faucets at a baseball game!”