Victoria man sells razor case invention
Nov. 26, 2017 at 9:06 p.m.
Updated Nov. 27, 2017 at 10:14 a.m.
The night of April 3, 2016, Richard Marquette had a dream that spurred an invention.
He dreamed the same kind of material used in puppy pads could be used to prolong the life of a razor.
About 18 months later, he started selling Prolong Razor Case, which Marquette said can extend a razor's life by at least 10 times, depending on someone's shaving patterns.
The path to selling wasn't an easy one, he said.
"It was extremely difficult," said Marquette, 67, of Victoria. "I even did a lot of research at first on the internet. It told me to not trust anyone and not put any money out there. In the end, I was extremely lucky. Everything fell into place for me."
Marquette wanted to have the razor cases manufactured in the U.S., but companies wanted about $60,000 upfront.
"I have an income of about $1,000 a month, being retired," he said. "I didn't have that kind of money."
He was self-employed in the oil field before he retired.
After doing research, he found someone in Sweetwater who decided to come into the company for 10 percent of the business. The man connected him with a manufacturing company in China, which set up the tooling and prototype product for $800.
Coming up with the design was a long process. Marquette started working on it before the Chinese manufacturing company worked on the prototype. He tried cases that ranged from bamboo to metal.
"He went through a lot of different boxes before he got to the plastic box," said Marquette's wife, Loretta Marquette, 64. "The insert and how to put the special drying material in there - that was another ordeal. We tried sewing things together. Our kitchen table was a trial and error of things of what we were going to come up with."
The Chinese manufacturing company sent Marquette a prototype sample of a clear box, which didn't look the way he wanted. He painted the box a few colors and decided on black. He and a company official communicated back and forth until Marquette finalized the product.
"Once we got in touch with Andrew, a lot of things started coming together," Loretta Marquette said. "Andrew - our contact with Manufacturers In China - understood what Richard needed and wanted. It was back and forth with the box and size and insert and, eventually, it came together just right."
After the prototype was finalized, Marquette made an order for 3,024 units with the company for $1.75 per case. The cases took about six weeks to manufacture.
He started selling them in September. The first case was sold Sept. 20 to a man from New York.
"The feeling after selling a product I've invented is undescribable," he said. "I get really excited every time I make a sale."
Although sales have been steady, Marquette said Hurricane Harvey, the Las Vegas shooting and the Sutherland Springs shooting put a damper on sales.
The patent on Marquette's product is pending. In September 2016 he applied for the utility patent. It could take two to three years before the patent is issued, said Marquette's patent lawyer, Michael Spradley, of Houston.
"Patent pending means a patent application on the related subject has been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office but has not yet been finally adjudicated," Spradley said.
The only way to receive a patent is by filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The best way to apply is with a licensed patent attorney, Spradley said.
Once the patent is applied for, the application will be reviewed by an examiner, he said.
"If the examiner finds the claimed invention to be new, useful, non-obvious patentable subject matter, the examiner will issue a notice of allowance," he said.
When Marquette found out he was patent pending in May, he contacted his piano tuner, Josh Harper, of Corpus Christi, to try out his product. Harper realized the case made his razor last three months instead of eight days. He then became Marquette's business partner.
Harper handles the advertising, marketing and the product's website.
"If someone has an idea or an invention, I want them to know it's possible to create it," Marquette said. "If your idea benefits others, I say go for it."