Jeffrey Rovell & Associates, Inc.
Uni Skin Care Products

Jeff says: Pfizer was considering an expensive acquisition to grow the business of the United Surgical division through new products. By bringing the right people together, I helped launch an improved product for a fraction of the cost.

Contemplating an Acquisition

In early 1979 I attended a national sales meeting in Florida for United Surgical, a Pfizer subsidiary. United's president, Al Priest, explained to me that he had identified a new opportunity: he wanted to leverage United's presence in ostomy and skin-prep products to create a unique skin-care product line. The skin-care products would be sold to ostomy patients, nursing homes, and to United's existing Skin-Prep customers.

I agreed that this was a great idea -- but I wasn't as enthusiastic about the acquisition he suggested to jumpstart it. Al had his eyes on Sween, a company already marketing a line of skin care products to nursing homes. Acquiring Sween would cost millions -- but no one could speak to the quality of its products, and the acquisition's only true advantage lay in the fact that no one at United knw how to develop the products in-house. I was convinced that there had to be a better, cheaper way.

An Alternate Route

I knew that bringing together the right people could give us a creative alternative to the acquisition. Pfizer has dozens of divisions, and one of them was the consumer division in Parsippany, NJ, makers of Visine and of several skin creams including Desitin and the Leeming-Pacquin hand cream. United didn't know how to take advantage of that resource -- so I made an initial contact with Len Japowitz, the general manager of the consumer division, and arranged a meeting in Parsippany with the United people.

I brought samples of the Sween products to Len's team of chemists and asked for them to be evaluated. Not only could the product be dramatically improved in-house, but Leeming-Pacquin was producing skin cream at only a fraction of its capacity. "We need products!" was what their chief scientist told us -- and in fact there were dozens of unused machines on the factory floor. In only three months an entire "Uni" line of skin care products was created. Inside of six months, we debuted the products at a trade show in Washington, D.C. with a complete marketing package.

Connecting People for Results

Making the right connections not only saved United Surgical the cost of an acquisition -- it also delivered an improved product line and found a willing partner who could manufacture it at a favorable cost and, because of their unused capacity, in a timely fashion. By helping United to explore possibilities which may not have been so obvious, we created a product which is still highly successful today. It is still successful today as part of the Smith and Nephew line of skin care products, and is still called the Uni line.