Patent your product design

This article originally appeared in NARI’s Tuffin’ It Out series.

Budd Shamroth utilized 20 years of experience as president of Before and After Remodeling of Rockville Centre, N.Y., to develop and manufacture a product for the home based on the necessity of his clients. Unexpectedly, that product has given him an extra edge over his competition, increasing revenue in his remodeling business.

Before and After Remodeling is best known for dormers, extensions, baths and kitchens. Like many NARI members, Shamroth prides himself in providing the full-service design/build remodeling experience to his clients.

“I help them with design, product choices, project management and finally, the end result,” Shamroth says.

Over time Shamroth began noticing a trend emerge from his kitchen remodel clients—they all seemed to want the same thing.

“Everyone would describe their need for more counter space in the kitchen and how they hated having to use space with a plastic drying rack,” Shamroth says. Not only was the drying rack an eyesore for a newly remodeled kitchen, but it also tends to collect mold and mildew.

That’s when Shamroth’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked it. He decided to design something that functions as a dish dryer without taking up precious counter space. The product known as DRAIN MATE® is installed into the counter itself and functions as both a drying rack and a normal counter space that can be converted into a cutting board or a holding place for a hot pan.

“I put pen to paper and designed something that I knew could work in almost every kitchen because I figured out the dimensions it had to be so it didn’t interfere with cabinets,” Shamroth says.

After the design was final, he built a prototype to test the concept.

One of the greatest advantages for Shamroth was he had a readily available test group comprised of buyers, his clients. It was such a hit with clients he decided to get a U.S. patent and find a manufacturer.

Shamroth teamed up with a friend who agreed to manufacture it.

At the same time, Shamroth was also running Before and After Remodeling, which was becoming more successful.

“The recession took its toll on my business like everyone else, but I’ve been able to use the product to boost my remodeling sales,” Sharmroth says.

Here’s how. The product serves as a differentiator between Shamroth and his competition. He comes into the game with an innovative product, one no one has seen and that no one else can provide.

“Clients are really impressed about the thought that I put into designing and developing the product,” Shamroth says.

This out-of-the-box thinking has increased his remodeling work. An estimated 80 percent of Before and After Remodeling clients use the product in their kitchens. As more homeowners notice DRAIN MATE® in their friend’s or neighbor’s kitchen, they contact Shamroth.

“I try to keep my remodeling business separate from the product, so people don’t feel obligated to hire me to do the install, but that is how it turns out a lot of the time,” Shamroth says. Installation instructions are provided on the product Web site for those who purchase it to install.

Plus, Shamroth is concentrating on selling the product to contractors, some of whom are his competitors. “I know how much influence a contractor can have on a homeowner’s product choices, so right now, I am concentrating heavily on reaching them and getting the product into showrooms,” Shamroth says.

Currently Shamroth’s main revenue stream comes from his remodeling company, and he spends about 75 percent of his time working on Before and After Remodeling. The remainder 25 percent of his time goes toward promoting and selling DRAIN MATE®. Since he’s created the product one-in-a-half years ago, he’s seen a 13 percent increase in Before and After Remodeling sales revenue from the last year. He has sold 450 units so far.

Only time will tell if Shamroth’s product will become the next big thing in kitchens but for now, he’s more than happy with his remodeling income—something that will always keep him busy. —Morgan Zenner

Have you noticed a client necessity that is difficult to provide? Have you ever considered creating your own product? Is there something that you could make that your clients would love? Tell us about it at marketing@nari.org.

| 9/8/2012 12:00:00 AM | 2 comments
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