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MailTribune.com
  • Demand for Snap Capps grows

    Local inventors of the caps, which allow people to reseal pull-tab cans, have brought marketers on board to help sell the product
  • Keith Cole ordered 18,000 Snap Capps to sell at the 11-day Oregon State Fair in Salem that runs through this weekend.
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  • Keith Cole ordered 18,000 Snap Capps to sell at the 11-day Oregon State Fair in Salem that runs through this weekend.
    Turns out that might not have been enough of the beverage container top that was developed by Jackson County entrepreneurs David Gran and Carl Stufflet. (Correction: See below.)
    "Every morning, I have a line of customers from the day before," said Cole, who operates two BJ's Ice Cream stores in Florence and operated a similar shop in Ashland for six years.
    "They bought two and now they want sleeves of 10. It's amazing what this thing is doing."
    Cole said Thursday that he's sold 1,000 Snap Capps a day and the biggest attendance days are still ahead.
    "It's a brand new product never seen in Northern Oregon and we got a lot of attention," Cole said.
    "Once we get people interested, we can't hold on to (the caps). When you're used to selling to businessmen, they understand they can buy something for this price and sell it for this. At the fair, there are so many different types of people that you spend a lot of time promoting. The trick is definitely in the demonstration."
    Since Snap Capp, which allows users to reseal pull-tab cans, went into production in April, more than 100,000 units have been produced by Ramko Manufacturing in Hemet, Calif. Nowhere fast enough, however, to keep pace with the demand.
    "Right now, we need patience and wait for production to ramp up," Gran said. "It just doesn't happen overnight."
    Gran and Stufflet signed a deal with two other local businessmen in June that figures to ignite even more sales activity.
    Bill Allen and Francisco Vallarta of Allen Vallarta Wholesale obtained exclusive distribution rights for U.S. markets. Allen learned the ins and outs of dealing with retailers during a 10-year stint as a Coca-Cola distributor.
    "Realistically, if we had a mold producing half a million, backed up with a mold making another million a month, we could sell a million and half a month," Allen said. "By the end of the first year, we could do 3 million a month. The major hitters are asking for (the) product and we can't supply it yet."
    Albertsons has test-marketed Snap Capps in a couple of stores. Fifty-six Bi-Mart stores will carry three-packs.
    "We've got a backlog of orders and we're waiting for a mid-October date to supply them," Allen said.
    Ramko produces 3,900 caps a day on a machine, one at time. A four-cavity mold is gearing up and soon two eight-cavity molds will follow. The cost to make the two larger molds is about a half-million dollars.
    "When we get the two eight-cavity molds going we'll be able to produce between 1.5 million and 1.8 million a month," Allen said. "Once production is up, we'll be able to supply the big hitters asking for products. We should be able to take this nationwide by mid-year."
    Allen's vision for Snap Capp proved more ambitious than its inventors.
    "Carl and David wanted to open one distributor and 10 stores a month," Allen said. "But when you work with Safeway or Wal-Mart, you either do all their stores in all locations or none of them."
    The good thing, Allen said, is that there aren't any viable competitors in the market or on the horizon.
    "It's not like Pepsi or Coke, where if they don't have one they'll fill it with the other," he said. "There is nothing out there like this and only a couple of other wannabes. It wouldn't be cost-effective for someone else to have it made in China for a few cents less. We have a strong manufacturer, patent owners, wholesale rights and the ability to push it to distributors."
    A line six-to-eight deep at the state fair underscored the popularity of the simple product and a deal with the University of Oregon is in the works as well. Cole said green Snap Capps with black lids and yellow Os will be available at the campus bookstore.
    "In three to five years this is going to be a multi-million dollar company," Allen predicted. "I'll be making money on their great idea and they'll make a lot of money on my marketing background. Where it goes from there, who knows? It's like the chip clip, it will always be there. The difference is that it's coming out of Central Point and manufactured in the U.S."
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or at business@mailtribune.com
    Correction: David Gran's name was misspelled in the original version of this story. This version has been corrected.
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