Pelican Lake area inventor, businessman so thankful, he’s making holiday donation to food shelf

“Sewer Skewer” inventor Larry Villella, pictured with a vanload of cargo that he recovered–with the help of Otter Tail County and Pelican law officers, and witness Rod Kugler. Part of a pallet of the copper “Sewer Skewers” fell off his truck, unknown initially to Villella, on Highway 59. More than 100 retail units were feared lost, but a quick investigation forged a trail to the lost freight.

A load of cargo, including hundreds of pounds of copper and a retail value of nearly $17,000, ended up in a ditch near Dunvilla last week. 

Within about 72 hours, it was all recovered–and businessman Larry Villella was so happy he spread the cheer by donating $500 to the Pelican Rapids Food Shelf. 

“I was so moved by this, I really wanted to do something with Thanksgiving and the holiday season coming up,” said Villella, of the Pelican Lake area, who is the inventor of the “Sewer Skewer.” 

The patented “Sewer Skewer,” specially designed to prevent sewer vent pipes from freezing over,  is produced locally. Villella was hauling a load on Highway 59 on Monday, Nov. 12. Unbeknownst to him part of a pallet fell off the truck. A total of about 45 boxes, with three retail units per box, were dropped along the highway near Prairie Lake.

 A couple of the scattered boxes were spotted further east near Sand Lake by Rod Kugler, who pulled over and picked up the few boxes. He also noted that, further down the road, there was a white pick-up truck picking up most of the dumped load. 

After the mishap, Villella placed a $500 reward ad in the Pelican Rapids Press.  Kugler spotted the ad about a day later, and called Villella.  

“I called him after I saw the notice in the paper,” said Kugler. “I didn’t want the reward, I just wanted to get them back to him.”

Kugler assumed that it was Villella who was picking up the larger portion of the dumped load–but it wasn’t. 

But with the help of Kugler’s information, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department was able to track down the truck–and the load of merchandise. 

“That was pretty darn good police work,” said Villella, who was thrilled with recovering the valuable product–which he was hauling to the Sewer Skewer storage site. 

Otter Tail Deputy Jim Iverson shrugged it off as “good old fashion police work…with assistance by surveillance video, help from the Pelican Rapids Police Department, and witnesses,” said Iverson. 

“We achieved the best outcome possible–we were successfully able to get Mr. Villella’s product back,” said Iverson.  

Surveillance cameras in the Dunvilla area also picked up images of a white truck, with boxes of merchandise in the back–which further reinforced Rod Kugler’s  observations. 

The white truck was tracked to Pelican Rapids, and the load was recovered.  Neither Villella or the sheriff’s department would comment on the circumstances surrounding the driver of the white truck, and his possession of the nearly $17,000 in merchandise–or what his intent might have been with the product. But, both the deputy and Villella confirmed that there would be no further investigation into the matter. 

“I’m just so happy that it was resolved,” said Villella, further thanking Kugler.  “He (Kugler) absolutely refused to accept any reward.”

“I’m just glad Mr. Villella got them back…and hopefully my information helped,” said Kugler, a 44 year employee of West Central Turkeys, who will be retiring at about the first of the year. 

Kugler was totally surprised when he was made aware that Villella planned to donate $500 to the food shelf––in Kugler’s name.

“If he wants to donate to the food shelf, that’s great.  Its a good place for it,” said Kugler. “That will help out some people that need it more than I do.” 

Villella’s invention, the Sewer Skewer, has become a booming small business. 

Sales volume of the item have grown by four times over the past couple years. 

The Sewer Skewer is now sold in 90 retail stores, across a five state area, said Villella.