Every inventor has a thousand ideas. But it’s the rare one who has 350 of his ideas actually on the market.
Meet Zlatko Zadro, president of Zadro Products.
After careers selling large computers and refurbishing real estate, Zadro decided in 1983 to try marketing one of his inventions.
The result is an international company that makes 350 products, many of them patented. It has 40 employees in Huntington Beach and 800 in China.
The whole thing started when Zadro thought about the difficulty men had shaving in the shower. The hot water supposedly softened the skin and whiskers for a more comfortable shave, but men couldn’t see to shave because a regular mirror fogged up.
Zadro attached a thin tube behind the mirror, dispersing hot water to keep the mirror the same temperature as the air to avoid fogging.
Zadro spends much of his product-development time talking to his retail clients and hanging out in their stores to talk to customers.
After introducing a new product, Zadro figures he has three years before copycats appear on the market. But he usually doesn’t file patent infringement lawsuits.
Of course, he doesn’t pursue every idea. “I have a folder this thick,” he said, holding his index finger and thumb three inches apart, “of those concepts.”
With 350 products, “it’s not whether (a new product) is good but whether it can penetrate the market and have profitable market share,” he said.
Photo by Songha Lee.