Oct 30, 2018
Steadying Structure
Zeke Jennings

Balloon It centerpiece system aims to make life easier for consumers, retailers

The Wilke family had always included balloons for family celebrations – they have four children – but as the kids began graduating the parties got bigger and moved outdoors, patriarch David Wilke decided balloons weren’t worth it anymore.

In 2012, getting the necessary helium was starting to become a hassle, and even then, the finished balloon centerpieces weren’t really want Wilke wanted. They didn’t stay put. They blew in people’s faces. He decided to scrap them, but his family protested.

“They said, ‘But we really want balloons!'” Wilke recalled. “I went online first; I thought there had to be a solution with air-filled, and there was, but nothing that gave us an elevated structure to look like a bouquet of helium balloons. … They didn’t form an upright centerpiece, and they didn’t go any higher than the stick.”

Using a collection of odds and ends, Wilke made his own structures. He didn’t know it at the time, but Balloon It was born.

“We were happy with it, they stood still, they didn’t move and the balloons weren’t blowing anywhere,” he said. “We thought it was perfect, and I didn’t have to buy a lick of helium, even the Mylars we put on sticks.

The next day, the centerpieces still looked great, so Wilke decided to leave them intact. After two weeks, they were still in good shape, although Wilke’s wife, Elizabeth, said it was time to get them out of the living room.

“I said, ‘Are you not amazed these things still look nearly as good the day of our party? Did it not occur to you that I could have built these a week early and not had to stay up all night before the party?” Wilke said. “I would have paid for this and been thrilled.'”

Wilke launched Balloon It Yourself in 2016. It includes everything needed to create a centerpiece – pump, sticks and corrugated board base – except balloons.

“You can buy balloons so many places and there are so many styles,” Wilke said. “I couldn’t see us ever being able to satisfy everyone.”

There are two sizes – a larger one geared toward balloon decorators and retailers and a smaller one geared to consumers. Balloon It works with several balloon manufacturers, including Maple City Rubber Co. and CTI.

“These clever displays are so easy to use with both foil and latex balloons to create original works of balloon art simply by attaching inflated balloons to the column and if you choose, you can even decorate the base using gift wrap or markers,” said Liz Kain of CTI’s marketing department. “They’re amazing!”

Balloon It is returning to the Halloween & Party Expo, Booth 1200, in New Orleans, Jan. 25-27, 2019.

(Right: A Balloon-It structure featuring Gemar Balloons.)

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