MAY 1990

Even if you've developed a wonderful retail consumer product and have positive results from focus groups and test markets, if buyers for the nation's retailers aren't convinced, you're never going to get on the shelf. Norman Melnick, chairman of Pentech International, a maker of inexpensive writing and drawing implements based in Edison, N.J., convinces the buyers by turning them into his partners.

Before going into production, Melnick talks with buyers and lets them shape the final product. If they want his pens to come in a 16-pack as opposed to an 8-pack, he'll do it. They think the package takes up too much space on the shelf? No problem. The packaging will shrink. Buyers become part of the manufacturing and marketing process and develop a vested interest in the product's success.

And Melnick, whose company now sells $23 million worth of products a year, makes them put their company's money where their advice is. "Pentech does not produce an item without an order in hand," he says.