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Remembering Petr Litomisky: Filmmaker, Inventor, and Ecogate Co-founder

Petr Litomisky with prototype of 1st Ecogate automatic blast gate
Petr Litomisky with prototype of 1st Ecogate automatic blast gate


In 1997, my uncle Petr Litomisky called me to see if I would help him automate the dust collector in his woodworking shop. His shop was in the garage of his house in Hollywood, and because he had limited power, he could only have a 1 HP dust collector. This was definitely not enough for his eight woodworking machines, so he added manual gates to all machine drops (to close vacuum to the machines not in use). Because he always forgot to close the gates when he stopped working on a certain machine, as soon as he started working on another machine he had to go around the remaining machines and close the gates everywhere else.

Sometimes he didn't do it and there was dust everywhere. He always came home dusty and with a nose full of dust, which prompted his wife to give him an ultimatum: either the dust collecting system will work, or the woodworking shop must end (because she was well aware of the danger of carcinoma triggered by hardwood dust). At that time, Petr called me and asked me to help him invent and produce an automated system...

The Dusty Beginnings of Ecogate

I told him that we can do it, but it's worth the effort only if a business can be made out of it. Petr called me the very next day when he found an article in the Wall Street Journal that there are 20 million woodworking hobbyists in the USA. So it was worth a try.

When we exhibited the first system for eight blast gates at the International Woodworking Fair (IWF) in Atlanta and demonstrated how the start of any machine in the shop opens the relevant blast gate and turns on the dust collector automatically, there was a jam of people at our booth who wanted to see this miracle.

In addition to hobbyists, this little jam also attracted managers from large companies, and they asked if we could provide a similar, but large system for factories. We boldly said that we could do it, and actually in 2001 we installed the first industrial Ecogate on-demand dust collecting system. Because the system reduced electricity consumption, the installation was supported by the power company Southern California Edison. And the rest is history.

From Czechoslovakia to Hollywood: Petr Litomisky's Journey

Petr studied film production at FAMU in Czechoslovakia. In 1968, when Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Soviet army because they did not like the Czech Spring - too much democracy for their taste, too little communism, and too little dependence on the Soviet Union.

At that time, Peter's family emigrated to the USA via Austria. In the USA, Petr started by building sets for the film industry, but he worked his way up to become a director of photography. To help the film colorist work faster, he thought of adding a color chart to the film clapperboard. His invention was so successful that in no time all his friends from the film industry wanted such a clapperboard, and so he started selling clapperboards as well. He made them first in his garage woodworking shop. This business still exists and is now run by Peter's son Robert ( in downtown Los Angeles.

Petr had enormous talent as a cameraman, but also as a woodworker: he was able to build beautiful objects first in his head and then in reality. The table that our family uses is a practical and beautiful design by Petr, and he made it together with my son Marek. His idea to improve his woodworking shop started Ecogate, we will be forever grateful to him for that.

Forever in Our Hearts: Honoring Petr Litomisky's Memory

His spirit, his ingenuity, and his heart will forever be part of our lives, just like the little dust collector that started it all, now a testament to a man who always sought to make things better, not just for himself, but for everyone around him.


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