In the late 1980s, three young rafting enthusiasts, Medford financial planner Bill Bednar, Grants Pass banker Dorian Corliss and Medford banker Michael Neyt, were taken by surprise while enjoying a Northern California raft trip.
The trio spotted someone using a crude device resembling a “homemade syringe” that shot a long stream of water. Seeing the potential for fun, Corliss built a four-foot-long, telescoping “tube within a tube” capable of producing long, strong streams of water.
Neyt and Bednar later built their own prototypes at home to compare with the one designed by Corliss. After refinements, they built their squirt guns inside a garage over weekends, and sold 5,000 of them in the first year. That was the birth of the Stream Machine water gun prototype, which they outsourced to a manufacturer to build.
A Medford facility employed 160 people that produced 1,000 Stream Machines an hour after Bill Bednar had bought out his two partners. Since Bednar sold the business in 2000, it has relocated to Chicago and faced many competitors.
Friendly squirt gun water fights keep rafters cool to this day.
Source: Sources: Frank Silow, “A Splash in the Market,” Mail Tribune, April 14, 2010, at http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100414/OURVALLEY/4180334/-1/OURVALLEY04.