Some friends refer to him as “MacGyver,” the 1990s television character who fabricated clever devices on the fly to get himself out of jams.

Written by ELA LINDSAY  Photos by RICHARD GILLARD

Scott Dorsey of Calabasas is a self-proclaimed inventor who’s been designing unique and clever items and redesigning others since he was a child. “I have been doing it all my life,” he says. “For more than 50 years I have been modifying designs, starting with my first bicycle.”

Ombrella MAIN

Photo courtesy of OhmBrella

 

Mister

Scott DorseyTypically, Dorsey’s inventions grow out of a personal need for something he’s not finding in the marketplace.

“I always question why something is made one way and why not another way, perhaps with less parts or to make it better or more efficient and possibly for less,” he says. “What I pride myself in is the ability to work basic principles and modify designs to suit my need. Why reinvent the wheel?

“If my wife asks me to fix something and I tell her it can’t be fixed, she thinks I’m lying,” Dorsey says with a laugh.

Before the days of flat-screen televisions, Dorsey wanted to install a TV in an outdoor pavilion with a device to hoist it up and down from the ceiling. When he found no such thing existed, he designed one of his own.

“By using a garage door opener, some pulleys and counterweights, I was able to lower and raise a 60 -pound television with a remote,” he says.

In 2005 Dorsey developed his own version of another idea which he’s since introduced to the consumer. He calls it OhmBrella, the ultimate awning. It’s an adjustable louver system that allows outdoor spaces to be protected from direct sunlight and rain.

solar-powered OhmBrella

With the flip of a switch, the solar-powered OhmBrella can easily be adjusted to let in just the right amount of sunlight.

The OhmBrella, like most of Dorsey’s inventions, was born from a personal necessity. “With our home located in a very windy area of Calabasas (where there’s) a high risk of fire, we were limited in possible solutions. Canvas or retractable awnings would be destroyed in the high winds. Fire code would have required the lattice or ‘shade bars’ be so far apart, the shading effect would have been minimal, and a solid top would make the interior of the home dark.”

Each custom-made OhmBrella gives homeowners a solar-powered system that’s impervious to rot and mildew and that never has to be painted. It can be opened, closed or set at any increment in between so families can enjoy year-round outdoor living—rain or shine—at the touch of a button.

“The system was designed to be incorporated into all types of structures, including retrofitting existing ones,” Dorsey says.

“And they’re available in any color of the rainbow,” he says, adding that his systems are 100 percent made in the U.S., “90 percent in SoCal.”

How did he come up with the name?

“In Italian ombrello is umbrella. Also, ‘ohm’ is a term having to do with electricity.”

But for some customers, the name is associated with an ancient word used in meditation.

“While this . . . was never our intention,” Dorsey says, “our customers will say that sitting under their OhmBrella is one of the most relaxing experiences.”