Retailers beat a path to better paint bucket

Sunday, June 5, 2011

With painting-related products he invented in stores across the country and around the world, Mark Bergman knows how to get onto retail shelves.

The formula is simple, according to Bergman, president of Chanhassen-based Bercom Inc.: Offer high-quality, low-priced products that make a job easier. Good design and made-in-the-USA don't hurt either, he adds.

David Brennan, professor of marketing and co-director of the Institute for Retailing Excellence at the University of St. Thomas' Opus College of Business, noted that Bergman's success in part appears to stem from his ability to see a need for a product, often based on his own experience, where no competing product exists.

"He's wired differently than the typical person," Brennan said. "He sees the opportunity on the one hand and on the other he knows how to get it to the retailer.''

The HANDy Bucket Builder, while apparently offering greater flexibility, likely faces more of a challenge because it competes directly with a product many already have, Brennan said -- the traditional sawhorse. The Bucket Builder and most of Bergman's other products may do well internationally, Brennan said, but lower prices and added distribution costs may reduce his margins as international sales grow.

In the long term, Bergman may want to consider diversifying beyond painting-related products or developing more expensive products that solve more complex problems, Brennan said.

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Originally published: 06/05/2011, Star Tribune