Marketing with a personal touch pays off for Oded Peri
Foster Farrar Co. hardware store on King Street in Northampton carries the M1 tape measure created by Haydeville entrepreneur Oded Peri. Jason LaRose who works part time at Foster Farrar and also is a builder, said he likes the way the device works. Purchase photo reprints »
Oded Peri has been marketing his patented tape measure by approaching stores to seee if they'll sell it.
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WILLIAMSBURG — Haydenville resident Oded Peri is an entrepreneur who marches to the beat of his own drummer. He has developed his M1 self-marking measuring tape and formulated a strategy for getting his product into the hands of consumers.
He says is approach involves patience, persistence and a belief in himself and his product.
For seven years, Peri, an Israeli immigrant who can neither read nor write due to severe dyslexia, has been developing the M1 tape measure, which sports a pointed stainless steel scribe designed to mark the desired measuring point, freeing the user from having to mark measurements with a pencil, saving time and ensuring accuracy.
After receiving a patent on the M1 tape measure in February, Peri began marketing the M1 to retailers. While friends and colleagues encouraged him to send out promotional material and arrange scheduled meetings with buyers ahead of time, Peri had his own plan.
Combining his gregarious personality with determination and optimism, Peri set out to visit each retailer himself.
“I know it goes against the mainstream, but I am super proud of this tape and I want to bring it to people myself so they can see how it works and that I believe in it,” Peri said.
“Some friends told me that this is stupid and absurd, but I don’t listen to that. If you have a good product and you really believe in it, than you should be able to say so in person,” he said.
Peri, 56, left Tel Aviv 15 years ago and moved to Canada, working as a painter and carpenter. He then joined his brother in the U.S. Peri now has six employees working for him out of his home office in Haydenville.
“You know, I came from nothing, I cannot read or write and I don’t learn from books, but I have skills, and a good product,” he said. “I have just become an American citizen, I have started a business and created jobs, I am proud of that.”
One tape measure at a time
Peri began his marketing campaign with three local businesses: Florence Hardware, Foster Farrar in Northampton and Forest Products Associates in Greenfield.
“When they saw it, they loved it,” Peri said.
“We are carrying the newer model that he has out now and we have gotten great feedback on it,” said Florence Hardware owner Todd Sienkiewicz. “The locking mechanism is better and the scribe is now an integrated part of the tape measure not just an attachment.”
Paul Czapinski, owner of Foster Farrar Co. at 145 King St., said his shop carries the tool.
“It is a fantastic item for someone in the trades,” he said.“Over all I think it is a great item, it is very well built and very well thought out,”
“As a builder I love this thing because it is absolutely precise,” said Jason LaRose, who works part-time at Foster Farrar.
“It is nylon coated so it can extend it out several feet and the tape itself doesn’t kink,” LaRose said. “It is very easy to read. You don’t have to figure out what each line is between the numbered inches, because the actual fractions are written right on the tape and it has 16 on center markings.”
The one potential drawback sellers mentioned is the $40 price tag.
“It is a little pricey. I know I’m just used to buying $6 measuring tapes when mine breaks, so $40 is a little expensive,” LaRose said. “This is the kind of thing I would love to get as a gift, because I would never have to replace it.”
According to Peri, by July, more than 400 M1s had sold — in stores for $42 apiece and online at m1tapes.com for $39.90 plus $6.95 shipping.
With sales picking up in local stores and holidays right around the corner, Peri decided to try expanding the distribution of his product. He targeted Boston-based National Lumber, one of the largest independent supplier of building materials in New England, and Cape Cod Lumber Company Inc., which specializes in doors, windows, millwork and Kitchen Cabinets.
True to form, Peri visited each store with a supply of tape measures and a promotional video. He said the reception was the same at both retailers.
“I just walked into the store and started talking to one of the sales people. I showed him the product and he took me in to see the buyer,” Peri said. “Within a half an hour the deal was closed, the product was on the shelf and the video was up and running.”
He says the personal approach to marketing and networking is what works best for him.
“I am right there in front of them and they have the opportunity to learn about the tape measure and also to learn about me. One buyer looked in my eyes and said “I like you, I believe in you, I want this in my store,’” Peri said.
With over 1,000 M1s now sold, Peri is tweaking his original design to create a second tape measure made specifically for painters.
While the M1 is currently made in China, Peri said his goal is to earn enough capital within the next two years to be able to bring the manufacturing of the tape measure back to the U.S.