Monday, February 23, 2009

Flint Artifacts: Helmac Lint Roller

Expatriate Shawn Chittle provided this rare artifact — a Flint-made Helmac lint roller used to promote Michael Moore's Roger & Me.

Shawn writes: "Most were confiscated by Canadian customs when the marketing staff tried to take them to Toronto, where the film premiered more than 20 years ago on Saturday, Sept 9 at 9 p.m. Only a few of those lint rollers ever saw the light of day. In 2000 the company relocated to Georgia, and shortly after changed its name.


  1. Hello, Antiques Road Show...
    (or..You can't spell Flint without L-I-N-T.)

    I happen to have of of those Helmacs & still use it. Not the roller type but the kind that looks like a miniture canoe paddle with arrows on either side denoting which way to move it across your clothing to collect the most fuzz.

    Remember that scene in Roger & Me in which the woman who was the head of Helmac put forth the idea that those laid off from the auto industry would be absorbed into her company? (hahahahahahah)

    Sure she had stars in her eyes, but her blouses were free of hair & lint.

  2. The Helmac plant was located on Kelso Street in Flint at one time...

  3. Yes! I worked there for a couple of years through college. It was a very fine place to work. The owners were very kind and generous to this Flint girl. I actually worked in a subsidiary that was run by one of the McKay's (the owners) sons. It was the most lint-free I have ever been.

  4. I went through those things like ... like ... oh, well, I used them a lot!

  5. For some reason, it sticks in my mind that the plant was originally on the northside of Davison Road between Dort and Franklin. The Kelso move was later. Any Ex-Pats remember something similar or is memory-loss beginning to set in.

  6. I personally knew the original designers of the Helmac Lint Roller. Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas McKay attended St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Flint, Michigan. Charles Stewart Mott was also a member. His son, Nick, Jr., went to the Flint Mayor, Woodroe Stanley, to discuss hiring more of the Genesee County Residents if the Mayor could possible give the company a tax break. Mayor Stanley would not even take the time to discuss the issue. That is why I heard that Helmac moved to Atlanta. . . must be ignorance is bliss?????

    1. I have an old Helmac roller with a patent number molded on the plastic, so I googled it-
      My husband had tossed it out, but I retrieved it from the wastebasket.
      I found an Evercare roll of lint tape at a nearby Goodwill, so I bought it, having a vague memory that they were the same company and it would fit. Yes, it did!
      I was interested in my old lint roller when Helmac was in Michael Moore's film, "Roger and Me".

  7. Did Helmac ever have part of their business in the old Oak School in Flint? I know my mother worked for Helmac when I was a kid of about 4 years old. I went to a nursery school at Oak School, and maybe I am remembering it wrong, but I was thinking she worked in the same building. If anyone knows for sure, would you please post it.


Thanks for commenting. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at