Summit Environmental Corp., Longview, TX, will officially enter the DRTV realm for the first time Feb. 28 as it begins regional testing of two 60-second commercials.
The two ads are for Summit Environmental’s FirePower911, an EPA-approved 32-ounce fire extinguisher that contains a patented chemical compound called FlameOut. The spots are produced by United Television, which also secured time on UPN, The Catalogue Network and The Box Music Video Channel.
The company has guaranteed Summit Environmental 1,000 airings of each spot over the next 60 days in 20 cities, including New York, Atlanta, Orlando, Denver and Honolulu. Based upon a local test in Texas that took place in December and with support for the product in both the consumer and corporate sectors, Summit anticipates it will continue working with United Television to roll out a long-form infomercial later this year.
“People who buy fire extinguishers either do it because they are forced to by law or regulation or because they know someone who has suffered a catastrophic fire,” said Keith Parker, CEO of Summit Environmental. “We are the first people I know of to really strategically bring a product like this up through the market and directly to the consumer.”
The first ad that aired during the earlier test is a dramatic presentation of a family celebrating the holidays around their Christmas tree as it suddenly explodes into flames. The second spot was just recently completed and features a close-to-home testimonial.
“A woman called our office and told us of her experience with the product. She lives right in the same town as our offices and got the product from someone who worked here awhile ago,” said Parker. “She had a fire, and the family’s extinguisher failed. She saw she had the FirePower911 still lying around, and she put out the fire with it. We got the whole family at their home, and she’s standing there with the can saying, ‘This product saved my life.’ It can’t get any better then that.”
The company has taken the long road to DRTV. According to Parker, he envisioned and enacted a strategically planned price setting, distribution and marketing campaign since his company acquired the patent to the main chemical agent FlameOut.
He said FlameOut is one of only seven agents currently approved by the EPA as a replacement for Halon 1211, the now globally banned environmentally toxic and ozone depleting fire-fighting agent. Of these seven approved fire-extinguishing agents, FlameOut is the only one in the United States that has been approved for both residential and commercial use. That leaves Summit Environment standing alone as the singular holder of both patent and approval for the only fire extinguishing formula that can legally be directly marketed to consumers.
“I knew we would be successful with this product from the start,” said Parker. “How could we not be with no legal competition? Right after I bought the main chemical agent and immediately before we officially filed the patent rights, I was starting to file with the FCC and we took this company public.”
When the product was first introduced and tested for sale to consumers as a smaller 16-ounce can, Parker did not yet have EPA approval. He followed guidelines by labeling it a “liquid fire suppressor” typifying that statement with another, “not intended to replace a fire extinguisher.” Since he has secured the patent and approval, many other companies began producing illegal knock-offs of his portable home fire extinguisher. He keeps watch on the market and has been successful at quickly eliminating any pretenders.
“We just got a copy of a recall on a product that was selling direct to consumers,” said Parker. “They tried to make the can look like ours, sound like ours, man, they tried everything. But because the product is not EPA rated, they got a $10 million product recall. The marketing history of this product has been a progression of getting the rating and slowly developing the whole product. I realized two years ago when I purchased the patent rights from the doctor that invented the formulas that we could take the fast approach or we could take a very basic foundational approach.”
Parker reasoned that to secure profit, he would have to maintain control on the price where ever, when ever and however FirePower911 was sold.
“I have contracts from Wal-Mart that I never executed. If I started doing business with those chain stores, they would continually try to beat me down on price. When the divorce occurred, whatever price they sold the product at at their stores would now have to be my retail price,” said Parker. “Every time you see one of those little happy faces or a roll back, you have to know that some vendor out there is taking it in the shorts. I was not willing to cause a spike in our stock price that would jeopardize our company. I knew if I took the definitive roll of going out and creating strategic alliances for the marketing of our product, we could control our destiny and, ultimately, be very successful.”
Before enacting his plans to bring FirePower911 direct to consumers and to lay a solid foundation that would give credence and respect to the main agent FlameOut, Parker first went corporate. He negotiated an exclusive deal with the largest commercial aircraft re-configurator in the world, International Arrow. Currently, FlameOut is undergoing certification to possibly replace all fire extinguishers on commercial aircraft.
Next, Summit Environmental entered into a retail agreement with the Convenience Service Group to distribute FirePower911 to convenience stores and supermarkets.
“The president of the Convenience Service Group is the immediate past president of Core-Mark, a company that puts products in 47,000 convenience stores in the Western half of the United States,” said Parker. “Now here I have the opportunity to do business with a man who has just recently retired as president from a company that size, who has been in the non-food distribution in grocery stores and convenience stores for 32 years. He can tell me things that I could never learn. We executed a contract with them to sell in stores where price is not necessarily the issue.”
In support of the retail contract, Parker drilled up an exclusive agreement with a company called Adatom.com, which is advertised as an Internet supermarket. Adamtom.com has exclusive marketing rights on the Internet for FirePower911 with exception of another agreement Parker made with Worldmall.com. Both sites feature the product for $19.95 under a number of product headings like Home & Garden, Automotive and Camping.
Catalog sales are just know figuring into the equation as FirePower911 is featured in the Amway spring and summer gift catalog and Healthy Living catalog. To sustain the importance of a visual demonstration, Parker launched another Web site, summitenvironmental.com, that features elements of the first commercial.
“SummitEnvironmental.com can not be tracked back to us for sales. This way we keep the integrity of what we are allowing the catalogs to promote for us,” said Parker.
Finally, after two years, the long journey of FirePower911 has made its way into the home of DRTV. “Hopefully, soon these initial spots will be backed up with a 30-minute infomercial,” said Parker. “And, as we planned, all these many places are selling it at the same price, $19.95.”
When the first 60-second spot was run locally in stores in Texas, they found that, not only did the television campaign bring people to the stores, but also, after being featured in weekly circulars, sales doubled.