Springfield, MO

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Local entrepreneur selected for Walmart pitch competition

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Branson entrepreneur Robert Vavrinak was selected for Walmart Inc.’s Open Call program with a chance for his product, The Door Balancer, to be distributed nationally in stores.

Vavrinak pitched the product yesterday at the 2021 E. Independence St. Walmart in Springfield. What he didn’t know is that the managers’ answer was already decided prior to the appointment.

“I gave my pitch to all of them and, at the end of it, they said, ‘Congrats, you’ve been accepted,’” he said. “The whole time, I was accepted.”

Now, Vavrinak will go to Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, on June 13 to pitch his product to corporate buyers.

Through Open Call, entrepreneurs nationwide applied to pitch their products at local Walmart stores for a chance to advance to the next level at the headquarters. Some applications are still being reviewed, Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said via email, and there is not a final count of how many will entrepreneurs will pitch in Bentonville.

“Last year, Walmart invited more than 500 companies to meet with Walmart buyers during 750 product presentations,” she said in the email. “We expect similar attendance for this year’s event.”

The Door Balancer is one of two Missouri companies invited – the other being St. Peters-based The Drop Stopper.

Open Call is part of Walmart’s 2013 initiative to boost job creation and manufacturing in the United States by purchasing American-made products throughout a 10-year period. According to a news release, the company plans to invest $250 billion in purchasing products from entrepreneurs. Walmart bought $7.3 billion in products from Missouri suppliers in 2017, according to the release.

“Walmart’s investment in U.S.-manufactured products goes beyond the shelf. The investment also is in the entrepreneurs’ dream, and that can be an emotional experience for everyone involved,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s vice president of merchandise services and U.S. manufacturing, in the release. “By investing in products that support American jobs, we’re able to bring new products to our shelves and new jobs to our communities.”

The opening session of the Bentonville Open Call pitch will be aired live on June 13 at

Problem solving
They say necessity is the mother of invention and when Vavrinak developed The Door Balancer in 2015, it was to meet a need he witnessed as owner of Bob’s Carpet Cleaning.

“One of the things I noticed in a lot of people’s homes is that they have a lot of interior doors propped open because the doors want to close on their own,” he said. “I had the exact same problem in my home.”

Due to a shifted foundation or improperly installed doors, fixing this problem normally would require removing the doorframe and reinstalling the door.

“I just thought there had to be a better way of doing it and I tried a lot of different ways and I came up with The Door Balancer,” he said.

The product is inserted in place of a hinge pin to prop the door open.

“With the help of an engineer, I got just the proper tensions on it,” Vavrinak said. “Once it’s put on the doors, you can barely tell it’s on the door.”

Currently the product is sold on Amazon and


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