A private (non-MLS) sale in Milbrook was reported today: $2.6 million, 1 Spring Road, and I Googled the seller just out of curiosity (yes, as you’ll have already noticed by now, this is a slow day for real estate news). Turns out, he’s the proprietor of a company that sells products we’ve probably all used, heard about, or seen on TV, and that’s pretty neat; more interesting than folks who trade electrons on Bloomberg screens, anyway.
In 1962, Combe created the men’s hair color category with the introduction of Grecian Formula 16, a product that gradually dyed away gray hair. Today, Combe’s hair coloring products, led by Just For Men, own more than 70 percent of the men’s hair coloring market, a category worth with more than $140 million in sales last year, according to ACNielsen and Information Resources Inc., both market research companies.
Unlike many companies in its industry, which use their corporate names to buttress their brands, Combe has traditionally let its brands speak for themselves. In addition to Odor-Eaters, the company makes Sea-Bond denture adhesive; the anti-itch products Lanacane, Scalpicin and Vagisil; and Just For Men hair color. Though it later sold the brand, Combe also invented the acne medication Clearasil.
Combe has 621 employees worldwide, 214 of them in White Plains, where the company has had its headquarters for some 50 years. It owns factories in Illinois and Puerto Rico, and has offices on five continents.
Combe’s peers in the health and beauty aid industry, however, are companies like Unilever and Procter & Gamble, multibillion-dollar corporations that dwarf Combe’s approximately $250 million in annual sales. Rather than compete with these giants, Combe has traditionally focused on products that address problems the big companies have overlooked.
”In a day and age of increasingly large beauty care companies, they have really found a place for themselves — in some cases have even been ahead of the big guys,” said Wendy Liebmann, president of WSL Strategic Retail, a Manhattan-based consulting firm. ”Just For Men is a perfect example. They have been there in a category that is only now being taken on by the larger companies.”
The linked-to NYT article from is entirely absorbing, and recommended. I mean that sincerely, and entirely without snark, because I admire entrepreneurs immensely. Okay, “absorbing” was a pun, but really – read the article.