A Brilliant, Creative Mind

An article about my grandfather, Thomas Sconzo, published in The Suffolk County News, March 18, 2010.


PATCHOGUE — Where anyone else would see a normal kitchen table, Tom Sconzo of Patchogue sees an opportunity. “This [kitchen table] is where I do a lot of work,” Sconzo said, as he reached under to a cleverly designed series of attachments on the underside, pulling out boxes. “If I want pencils, I grab pencils. If I want pads, I got pads. It’s neat in its way.”

Tom Sconzo, 87, is the retired former owner of Bayport-based Sconzo and Sons Aluminum, a manufacturer and installer of storm doors and windows that closed up shop in the 1990s after serving the community for nearly 50 years.

Husband to Connie, a father of five, and grandfather and great-grandfather owns more than 100 patents, and is the inventor of countless other devices for which he is the originator, but has not sought to make his intellectual property.

“I’m always thinking of something to do, whenever I pick up something. I’m always thinking it could be done different; done better,” Sconzo said.

In his beautiful lakefront Patchogue home, Sconzo is never far from one of his inventions. Suffering from arthritis, Sconzo has a hard time opening pull-top cans. He pulls out a repurposed pipe that has been hammered down and drilled into an elegantly designed can opener, with each small hole and crevice serving a specific and helpful purpose.

Down in his basement, Sconzo shows off a complex mechanism he designed and built— attaching a light bulb to his oil tank so he can know whenever he’s running out of heating oil.

Outside, he brings out a leaf blower to which he has since attached aluminum railings so the leaf blower stands up on his own, making it unnecessary for him to bend down to the ground and pick it up when he does yard work. Sconzo has added similar devices to his rakes and snow shovels, allowing him to do work around his home well into his 80s.

“Having a machine shop where he had all types of machines (lathes, metal planers, drills, etc.) made the process a little easier to build proto-types,” said Frank Sconzo, recounting his childhood memories of his father.

“Most of what he did at home was done in his easy chair in the living room. He sat and drew; he sketched, he thought. He would draw an idea out many times, watching television and sketching his idea. That was the way I saw him come up with ideas,” said Frank Sconzo.

Sconzo’s are long lasting, including the rollers that are used in convenience stores—where hotdogs and other foods are cooked—are based on a design improvement by Sconzo.

His finest achievement, though, is the patent for the Prime Seal Storm Window. “I came up with an idea for [insulating] gates. It was rated the tightest window ever made,” he said.

“The Prime Seal Storm Window was the finest storm window made anywhere in the world. It was heavy-duty, air tight and guaranteed to last a lifetime,” Frank Sconzo said.

These days, Sconzo has long since ceased making money off his inventions, and now he simply builds and improves to make his and his wife’s lives easier. “I sit and I think, I just can’t help it. I’m weird that way,” Sconzo said.

(click for larger size)
excerpt from Suffolk County News

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