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Andy Kogut and his father were standing behind a pickup one day, debating which of them would have to climb up into the bed to retrieve something neither otherwise could reach.

After several minutes of back-and-forth banter, one of them finally crawled up into the bed to fetch the item.

“Somebody’d be really smart to come up with a better way,” Kogut’s father-in-law suggested.

“A week later, at 2 a.m., I sat up in bed and said, ‘That’s what it’s going to be,’” Kogut recalled recently. “It just came to me.”

“It” is the Tailhook, an ingenious tubular device that stays hidden until you need it, and then emerges so you can use the hook at its end to reach all the way to the far corners of a full-size pickup bed.

Yes, there are similar devices on the market. What makes the Tailhook unique is that instead of rolling around in the truck bed or taking up room in the cab, the Tailhook stores inside the truck’s otherwise hollow tailgate.

Kogut, a carpenter by trade, said he developed his first prototype in about 15 minutes. Yes, it was “very crude and very quick,” but over the next several weeks he refined the device and even took the scariest step in the development process.

“The hardest part was drilling the hole in my tailgate,” he said. “I was terrified of that.”

But Kogut was surprised just how easily his 1.5-inch hole saw cut through the sheetmetal endplate of the tailgate so the tube that holds the tailgate could be inserted and screwed in place.

After two years of development and work on securing a patent, Kogut debuted his invention at the most recent automotive aftermarket trade show, the SEMA Show. It received a lot of attention and Kogut heard a lot of praise as he demonstrated the device, which will go on sale in late January with a suggested retail price of $109.

“It’s all American made,” he said. Tailhook also is made from aluminum so there’s no worry about rust, he noted.

Tailhook will come with a template for drilling five holes in the truck’s tailgate — the 1.5-inch main hold for the tube and four small holes for the screws to secure the unit in place. The instructional video on thetailhook.com shows how to use silicon gel around those four holes to make sure water can’t seep in.

The plate at the end of the tube has a spring-loaded release ring you pull and the Tailhook handle pops out so you can extract it from its hiding place. Once you’re snagged the items from your truck bed, you slide the Tailhook back into its holder, close the tailgate and no one knows the device is there.

In addition to ramping up production, Kogut is working on several accessories for the Tailhook, including a small broom, a small rake, a snow scraper and window squeegee.

Visit thetailhook.com for information.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.

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