By Russ Crespolini NJ Observer-Tribune
CHESTER – Former Port Authority Policeman and borough resident Will Jimeno knows a thing or two about savoring moments.
As an officer responding to the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, Jimeno literally spent hours trapped beneath the rubble of the Twin Towers not knowing if he was going to live or die.
His story of courage and survival has been featured in countless articles and by Hollywood in Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center film. Jimeno has spent his time since sharing his story as an inspirational speaker and part of what he preaches are the many ways in which his near-death experience changed him.
And it is from that shift in core values that the idea for his new business venture sprung.
“After 9/11 I developed a love for trying to document all the things that mean something to me in life,” Jimeno said. “I got into filming and I noticed when we would watch these family films I was always behind the camera. I realized when I leave this Earth my kids will have home movies and only hear dad’s voice.”
From there, Jimeno came up with the idea for the “Personal Camera Buddy.” The flexible camera rig can serve as harness, a filming pole and a tripod so that users can film all the special moments of their lives and be included in it as well.
“You can use any camera eight ounces or less,” Jimeno said. “That includes things like a Go Pro or a Sony Handicam or even a Smartphone.”
Jimeno said the rig weighs a little over two pounds, has a patent pending flexible arm and can be used for everything a user can dream of.
“You can use it for rock climbing, hunting and fishing, riding ATVs,” Jimeno said. “And we are discovering new uses for it every day. When you use the Personal Camera Buddy it really looks as if you have a cameraman behind you.”
Jimeno said that after the idea came to him, he worked with a few engineers to sketch out and perfect the design.
“I’m very, very proud of it because it is made in America. Not only in America but right here in New Jersey,” Jimeno said. “And we plan to keep it that way.”
Jimeno said the Personal Camera Buddy is manufactured at Trinity Innovations in Randolph and that a few big box stores are considering it while Jimeno also wants to have it available on Amazon.com sooner rather than later
“The until sells for $179,” Jimeno said. “But to buy two of the three components you get with this separately it would cost you $130. And you aren’t in the picture. With the Personal Camera Buddy you get to be in the picture, not just the back of your head.”
Jimeno said the response so far has been tremendous as doctors and law enforcement agencies are reviewing the device for training purposes and folks have been using it for smaller social gatherings and family functions.
“At first you look a little bit like Doc Ock (a Spiderman character) with the arm sticking out,” Jimeno said. “But then after two minutes no one even noticed it.”
Jimeno said the rig was designed to be easy to use.
“When I came up with this idea I thought, could my dad use it. The way it is designed there is no reason why anyone, electronically challenged or not, can’t get your action shots,” Jimeno said. “And I’m always open to constructive criticism but with this product I have yet to find someone who has an issue with it.”
Jimeno, who spends a lot of his time speaking at schools, said the success of the business is also a good lesson about the power of following dreams.
“I had an idea for a business venture and my wife said to me “what are you going to do about it?” and I waited and someone else beat me to it. When I came up with this idea she said “what are you going to do about this one?” and I got to work on it,” Jimeno said. “And it just goes to the youth out there that if a dumb cop can do it, that they can do it. If Will Jimeno can do it, they can too.”
Jimeno also said that in the era of the Bridgegate political scandal, his New Jersey based company can be a source of pride.
“With all the bad news coming out of New Jersey this is something good. I’ve always said if we could get rid of the high taxes and bad politics we would be golden,” Jimeno said. “New Jersey is a beautiful place.”
For more information, video and photos for the Personal Camera Buddy visit www.getmypcb.com.