REDMOND, Wash – A local furniture company in Redmond found a new market after criminals found them.
Epoch Design used to be known for their bunk beds, but as of last year, their number two best-seller is now a mailbox that is the size of a pillow, ships to Saudi Arabia and is made of 14 gauge steel.
David Bolles said he invented the Mail Boss 10 years ago when company checks and mail started to go missing from his mailbox.
“Not just once or twice, but repeatedly,” said Bolles. The Redmond owner looked at mailboxes already on the market but said they were either too expensive or they were too cheap.
“When you look at something and it looks like it’s made out of plastic and the lock that’s on it looks like it’s off a bubble gum machine then it’s a good tip it’s not really a security product,” he said. “It’s just a faux security product.”
Bolles said that’s when he went to work, using the same principles he applies in his furniture business to mailboxes.
“This is what’s called a sidewinder key and it’s comparable to what you would see on a Mercedes Benz or some other European car. It’s almost impossible to pick,” he said showing off the key. “This is actually the same kind of steel you’d see on a wrench set,” said Bolles, as he described the locking mechanism. “You combine that together with a small pin on the back and you’ve got a system that’s a real bugger to get into with your typical pry tools.”
The case of the Mail Boss is thick steel, “most of the product that’s out there is a half to a third of that,” he said. Looking at competitor boxes, Bolles showed how simple it can be to put your arm into the large opening created by a mailbox flap, and pull out the contents. Bolles said he solved that with another piece of thick steel. "As you open it, the baffle comes forward and blocks your ability to put your hand into it. And as you close it, the baffle moves away."
The Mail Boss isn’t indestructible, but it does take major tools, like a three-foot pry bar, and minutes rather than seconds to force open. “If we were going to err at all, we wanted to err on the side of quality and if we were going to take a little less margin on our product we were OK with that,” said Bolles.
The company gives a lifetime warranty on the Mail Boss. They said they are more concerned about the elements breaking down the steel or locks over years of wear, than criminals destroying the box like they’ve seen with competitor products.
But, if your Mail Boss does succumb to a thief, they’ll replace it, but they want the box back to inspect it and make changes if necessary.
“It’s a product that is durable and has value to it, and in today’s world that seems like a rare commodity,” he said.