Bob Thorsen enjoyed helping his wife with her gardening. He often acted as “go-fer”; it’s difficult to know what all you will need when you start out. When they moved to a house on six acres, all that walking back and forth gave Bob an idea. With cardboard and duct tape, he made a tray that would keep all the gardening tools in one place and fit atop a wheelbarrow for easy transport.
He showed his five children the tray to get their ideas. Four of them worked at the family construction business, Becca as CFO. Mollie had just finished college and was presumably on her way to work in a museum with her degree in art history/conservation. They encouraged him to follow up with his invention, so he engaged an industrial design firm to come up with a real prototype. The firm took Bob’s idea and ran with it, building various models to test on homeowners and contractors. (They later won the International Design Award for Product Design for the finished model.)
Bob, Becca and Mollie, as COO, were in charge of the new family company, the Little Burros, to save people those time- and energy-wasting multiple trips between shed and gardening project.
Original Little Burro
The original tray is made with UV-resistant HDPE plastic, fits most wheelbarrows and can hold up to 80 pounds. (It weighs 6 pounds.) There are compartments for long handle tools, short handle tools, drinks, and a water-resistant compartment and pockets for your personal items, e.g., cell phone, sunglasses, gardening gloves, etc. It can also carry a flat of flowers, a five-gallon bucket and a two-by-four.
The Little Burro was selected to represent Virginia in a showcase of made-in-America products at the White House, which led to an appearance on Fox & Friends. At the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, it won best new product (out of 11,000 products).
From the feedback they received, the Little Burros team decided to expand to the Burro Buddy, smaller, lighter and less inexpensive, and it takes up less room—good for the gardener’s garage or shed and good for the merchant’s display space. The key features from the Original Little Burro remain, and it allows full use of the cavity of the wheelbarrow.
The Original and/or the Buddy received many accolades, including
- Top 5 Tools for Spring: Newsday
- Top 5 Genius Gardening Products: Sunset Magazine
- Amazon Best Seller
- 5 Genius Gardening Tools, Real Simple Magazine
Bob eventually turned his attention back to his construction firm, building custom homes, and Becca and Mollie worked to find new markets the Little Burros. Until tragedy struck. Becca, after a brief illness, died at age 29. The family was devastated and felt unable to go on with either business. They took a break, and then found the strength to go on by honoring Becca and furthering her legacy.
Becca was a dedicated activist for A21 (“Abolish in the 21st Century”), a global anti-human trafficking organization that seeks justice for the 40 million victims around the world. Her family donates Becca’s 10% of the Little Burros company to A21 and a portion of every Burro sold.
They also participate in the annual A21 Walk for Freedom in Washington, DC. Mollie is a host for the walk and is the organization’s US Director for Advocacy. She is also Sponsorship Chair for Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic.