Ralls inventor's idea influences award-winning trailer hitch

Ralls inventor's idea influences award-winning trailer hitch
Bill Masten
Bill Masten

RALLS, TX (KCBD) - A Ralls inventor developed an idea for a new trailer hitch that is marveling consumers nationwide.

It is called the Intelli-Hitch, a contraption Dustin Jones first drew on his welding shop floor over four years ago.

Through a group of inventors in Amarillo called Intelli-Hitch, they finalized the product which makes sure trailers stop just in time.

"When you start decelerating, it measures displacement between the trailer and the truck and proportionately applies the brakes as needed," Jones said. "There's no gain switch on it, like traditional brake controllers, which takes all the user manipulation out of it so that you can't make a mistake on setting the brake controller."

This is a problem Jones has not only experienced himself, but has witnessed an accident in Austin caused by a truck pulling a trailer that could not brake fast enough.

"I build trailers for a living," he said, "and I've heard customers complain about braking issues on their trailers for years."

If created, he hoped his hitch could help save lives – but it was a concept he could not complete on his own.

"I started looking in the yellow pages for electrical engineers," Jones said.

That lead Jones to contact Bill Masten from Shallowater.

"The next day we met at Abuelos for lunch," Jones said, "and he had already made a prototype with a switch and light bulbs."

As they met each week, a partnership and friendship formed along with their product.

"We built our first prototype," Jones said, "and we realized what we had invented,  and how well it performed."

It worked so well, that Jones said he decided to let his son Braxton Jones test it.

"It's like the trailer was pulling us, stopping us," Braxton said, "and that's when I was like, 'Wow, this really works'."

While the hitch was evolving, about two years in, the unexpected happened.

"I was about bankrupt," Jones said. "I was wearing so many hats being the salesman, the business guy, marketing…it was too much. It overloaded me."

After that, Jones attended an inventors' club meeting in Amarillo and met Roger Hayes. Hayes and a group created the Intelli-Hitch company and revamped the product in Amarillo.

"It's all built here in Texas, made in the United States," Jones said, "and we're proud of that."

Jones decided last minute to attend the North American Trailer Dealers Association Nashville Trade Show & Convention during September 10-12. He said he was overjoyed when Intelli-Hitch won Invention of the Year at the event over 23 products.

"You don't start off with very little money and end up in this situation every often," Jones said. "I mean, it's a fairytale story."

It is an achievement Jones, above anyone, never thought he would reach.

"Thirteen years ago I got sober," he said. "I'm a recovering drug addict so to be able to accomplish something like this in life is just truly amazing. You never know what you can accomplish once you get right."

Each time he looks at his shop-floor concept, he is thankful for the trust he gained as he caught his dream.

"I'm blessed to have a family that has been behind me," Jones said, tearing up, "and a good partner."

For more information about Intelli-Hitch, visit http://www.intelli-hitch.com/.

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