Chapter 4 – Viva Las Vegas
1992 – APAA Featured Product
1993 – Trademark Registration
1993 – Design Stolen
Big shows, bright lights, and a disastrous setback.
In 1992 we made our debut at the APAA show in Las Vegas where we were one of the Featured Products at the show that year.
After using the Go Treads logo with “TM” behind it, we applied for the logo to be registered. We received our Trademark Registration on August 17, 1993. Now we could put the ® symbol after our logo.
In 1993 we returned to Las Vegas for the APAA show because we had a good response from our first time there. That show was a terrible heartbreak because suddenly, all of the years of effort to get Go Treads into the marketplace came crashing down.
Just a few booths down and on the next aisle over there was a booth debuting a foreign-made copy of our Go Treads. They were offering their copy for half the price of ours. Their parts directly interchanged with ours. Their instructions were word for word the same as ours and they even had the picture from our package of my daughter placing our Go Treads under our car tire.
We contacted our attorney as to what we could do to protect Go Treads from this infringement. He said that unless we had millions of dollars to fight them, there was nothing we could do.
Chapter 5 – Time for TV
1996 – First TV appearance on QVC
1997 – Website live
1998 – Distributed in Australia
1999 – “Mean Green” brand in Australia
QVC & Overseas Customers to the Rescue
Our sales almost immediately dropped to zero shortly after that show. The only saving grace was that QVC liked our product and put us on the air for three years. Without their help, I believe we would have been finished. The folks at QVC were so kind and helpful, they played a key part in saving our company.
In 1997 our first website was established by our son, Aaron. This was back in the days when the Internet was just beginning to be recognized as a “possible” marketing tool. Aaron convinced us that the Internet would be the place where Go Treads could be successfully marketed worldwide.
It was during our association with David Oliphant and QVC that John Bower (owner of Mid-America Plastics) established BMB Marketing with Go Treads as his main product. During that time, he started selling Go Treads overseas as well as here in the United States. Through those overseas efforts, he connected with an Australian company and a Japanese company.
During 1998 and 1999, John sold at least 1,300 Go Treads to Australia before the Australian company requested that we change the color to Hi Glow Green and insert their branded product name “Mean Green” into the Go Treads they were selling in their country. All in all, we sold over 4,000 Go Treads in Australia and twice that many in Japan.
The Australian retailer kept requesting that we reduce our price to them and that’s when I did a very stupid thing. At that time, we were using brass for the hinge pins, which were very costly. I bought some 1/8” polypropylene monofilament line and substituted it for the hinge pins. I tested it and found that it worked fine. From that we modified our mold and started to mold hinge pins. We then assembled Go Treads using these molded polypropylene pins and sent them off to Australia and Japan.
Stupid, stupid, stupid…that’s all I can say. In an effort to make a lower cost tool, I used an inferior component. When our product reached the hands of our overseas consumer, every tool fell apart. Did I say STUPID yet? Needless to say, we lost both of these very good customers and I learned a very hard lesson. Back then, we offered a lifetime guarantee – “if it breaks, we will replace it”, which we still offer today. That STUPID thing of using an inferior hinge pin really hurt us. Learn from my stupidity. Don’t compromise your standards, it will come back to BITE you. We now use galvanized steel hinge pins that work well, but those two customers were lost forever.