Thursday, March 31, 2011
For the past 40 years, Ron Popeil has generated over $2 billion in sales with his unique and creative products. He was even voted as one of the 25 people who have changed the way we eat, drink and think about food by Self Magazine readers. One of his most successful inventions, The Showtime Rotisserie, at one point was selling by the thousands each week. Yet life wasn’t always this easy for Popeil, he would have to go through a lot of heartache and turmoil to get to the top. From a rocky childhood, to finding his true calling, to close financial ruin of his company, Ron Popeil would find his way through it all and come out on top.
Ron Popeil was born on May 3, 1935. He and his brother, who was just 17 months older, were constantly moving from foster home to foster home in upstate New York. His parents were divorced and rarely spent time with them. Even at Christmas, when all of the parents came to pick up their children from the foster home, Ron’s parents never came. By the age of seven, Ron’s grandparents took Ron and his brother to live with their aunt in Florida for about two and a half years. When he was 10, his grandparents moved to Chicago and he and his brother went with them. By the age of sixteen, Popeil was out on his own.
His father, Samuel Popeil, was also an inventor. He sold his inventions to different department stores and chains throughout the U.S. When Ron moved out on his own, he went to go work with his dad. He showed the different products at the store and convinced them that consumers would by the products in large quantities. Due to the significant sales of the products, stores would buy the products has fast as they could. However, the turning point in Popeil’s life didn’t come until a causal walk down Chicago’s Maxwell Street.
During that walk down Maxwell Street in Chicago, it came to him. He saw all of the people selling their products on the street and all of the money they were making. So he thought he could do what they can, but he could probably do it better. So he bought some kitchen products from his dad’s factory and went down to Maxwell Street to sell them. It was a success; he was putting more money into his pockets than ever before and that’s when he knew what his true calling was.
In the mid 1950’s television was on the rise and Ron discovered he could produce a 60-second commercial for $500 and he did. Popeil’s first TV product was the Ronco Spray Gun, a gun shaped hose nozzle that held different tablets of soap, wax, weed killer, fertilizer, and insecticide. By the 1960’s, Ron was selling most of his products on television, his father and he became very wealthy. In 1964, Ronco pulled in $200,000 in sales and by 1968, the company was raking in $8.8 million.
In the 1980’s Ronco faced financial problems. A Chicago bank went under and Ronco’s bank didn’t want to follow suit. So, the bank called in all the company’s I.O.Us. Ronco couldn’t cover them because of the certain time the bank wanted their money. So, the bank took over the company’s assets and decided to auction them off. When the bank was ready to auction off the assets, Ron offered the bank $2 million to buy it back. The bank denied his offer and went on with the auction. When the bid only came up to $1.2 million, the bank asked if Ron’s offer still stood. Keeping his word, Ron bought his company back and got it back on track.
These days, Ron is still inventing and keeping busy, but he always finds time for his favorite hobby, fishing. Ron always takes out one of his two boats and uses one of his inventions, The Pocket Fisherman, to help catch his dinner. Ron Popeil is a successful entrepreneur for many reasons. First, he has made a significant amount of money and he and his family are financially set for life. Second, he has brought the consumers useful and high quality products that have made their lives easier. Third, he followed his dreams and didn’t let anyone tell him otherwise, and has made a successful career of what he loves to do.
Submitted by: Alex Wright
"About Us." Www.ronco.com. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <http://www.ronco.com/rco_aboutus.aspx>.