Steve and Maxine Anasiewicz show off the ZoomBuggy, a portable electric cart Steve invented for using on the beach. (Staff photo by Diccon Hyatt.)

The cooler, the chairs, the drinks, the food, the folding table, the radio, the towels, pillows, the 10-by-10 cabana – it was all too much for one man to bear. Steve Anasiewicz, 59, was with his wife Maxine, carrying this burden across an endless expanse of beach two years ago when he realized there had to be a better way.

The world is filled with labor-saving machines, and yet he still had to haul his ever-increasing load of beach gear like a beast of burden. If only someone made a motorized cart of some kind.

Anasiewicz didn’t stop with that thought, because when Anasiewicz wants there to be a better tool for the job, he builds one. The next time he came to the beach, it was with a prototype of his latest invention: The Zoom Buggy.

“It started with my present wife, Maxine,” he explained. “She’s sure a sun lover, and I’m a shade lover and a tree hugger. I’m going down the shore and we’re carrying all this stuff out there, and I’m thinking, I can’t do this. I’m too old for this.”

Steveis such a shade lover that he built his own home at the base of Sourland Mountain in 1989 in a spot out by Hillbilly Hall where the forest goes for miles in every direction.

A graduate of Brunswick High School, Anasiewicz worked a 40 year career as an electrician, working until his knees went bad and had to be replaced.

Steve is not content to sit around in his retirement. He flies airplanes out of Princeton Airport, and spends his free time working with machines in his basement.

The Zoom Buggy was a result of extended tinkering. The frame is made of steel pipes. An electric motor sits at the base between two oversized all-terrain wheels. The carrying basket is rated for more than 100 pounds and balanced so that someone pushing the Zoom Buggy can tilt it back and wheel it easily along the beach, like one might push a power mower. The whole thing weighs about 40 pounds and costs $375. The battery, with an optional solar charger, lasts two and a half hours. After the prototype was done, Anasiewicz torture tested it, made improvements and made sure it was durable.

Anasiewicz makes and sells the Zoom Buggy in a garage, and has produced about 200 of them so far.

Anasiewicz has big plans for the buggy, hoping to turn his garage project into a major commercial endeavor. A patent for the machine is almost complete, he said, and he’s looking for a manufacturer to ramp up production, either by making parts or assembling the whole thing.

“I want to keep it here in the United States,” he said. “I don’t even entertain the thought of going to China or India or anywhere else.”

He has heard from fans of the Zoom Buggy from all over the country. Anasiewicz said one woman wrote to him from Cape Cod, telling him how much she loved it. Another said she used it to haul firewood.

But the biggest Zoom Buggy fan of all is Maxine. She married the widower Anasiewicz two years ago, and has been supportive of his mechanical hobbies.

While Steve has a reserved manner, Maxine visibly lights up when she talks about the Zoom Buggy.

“This is the best thing since the microwave oven!” she said. “It’s like a cell phone: once you’ve got one, you can’t live without it. I truly don’t know how we got along without the thing … It’s truly incredible. It’s like it floated down from heaven. I’m sincere. Ask anyone who’s bought one of these things.”

Maxine even came up with the name for the invention.

“I think it’s a real good name,” Steve said. “It portrays her idea of what it is: it just zooms across the sand.”

The Zoom Buggy is for sale at zoom-buggy.com/

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Diccon Hyatt is business editor of U.S. 1. He has worked for Community News since 2006 and was previously community editor of the Ewing Observer, the Hopewell Express, the Lawrence Gazette, and the Trenton Downtowner. From 2003 to 2006, he was a general assignment reporter for the Middletown Transcript in Middletown, Delaware. In 2002, he graduated from the University of Delaware, where he was features editor of the student newspaper, The Review. He has won numerous awards from the Maryland-Delaware D.C. Press Association and the Association of Free Community Newspapers for features, news, and opinion writing. He is married and lives in Marlton, NJ.