Local trimmer company tops Amazon list
February 6, 2009By Andrew Gray
Wilmington is home to businesses with world-wide operations, including GE, Corning and PPD; the North American Division of PHR Systems, Ltd. is no exception.
PHR Systems is, however, the only local company with a product on Amazon.com’s best selling products of 2008 list.
Sharing the list with the Nintendo Wii, the animated DVD Wall-E, and Microsoft Office 2007, PHR Systems’s “Groom Mate Platinum XL” manual rotary nose hair trimmer is a best selling product.
In addition to being sold on Amazon, the trimmer is sold on the company’s website (groommate.com), distributed through resellers in over thirty-five countries, included as part of the U.S. Army’s grooming kit for new recruits and rebranded by some of the world’s oldest makers of grooming products.
The rotary trimmer is made of surgical grade stainless steel and PHR Systems has patented a process for the finish.
According to John Bellm, owner PHR Systems, the trimmer’s design was originally created by his brother, Mark, while they were working for their parents’ scissor and grooming product company in Canada.
At the time, there were no battery-powered trimmers, so the only options were tweezers or scissors. Bellm’s brother Mark launched the company in 1991 and ran it until he moved to New Zealand in 2006; that is when Bellm moved the company to Wilmington.
Prior to PHR Systems, Bellm had a career in information technology, having worked for Tandy in the 1980s and more recently for a company that managed computer networks on university campuses.
The company originally sold the trimmer only through distributors and under other companies’ brand names, but later Bellm decided to try selling the product directly online.
“I never thought selling on the Internet would be a success,” said Bellm. Evens so, in January, the company’s website was in third position for the search term “nose hair trimmer” on Google and had an Amazon sales rank of number two for “nose & ear trimmers.”
The website has been mentioned on CNBC, in Wired Magazine and on AskMen.com. Bellm credits grassroots online marketing for the success of the website and the rapid growth in e-commerce. “I am a single dad and spend my nights and weekends promoting the site,” said Bellm.
Bellm personally responds to all comments on Amazon to encourage people to post product reviews and uses blogs and forums to promote the product. According to Bellm, the company has spent almost nothing on marketing the website. In addition to online marketing, Bellm credits a business card-sized advertisement for the trimmer, included with every shipment, for driving traffic to the website. Bellm describes the card as a small note with a large photo of the trimmer, and it can be given to anyone who has a “personal grooming problem.”
“If you are going to use the Internet successfully, you have to be creative,” said Bellm. “It takes a lot more effort then just building a pretty website.”