Ever wonder where all of those novelty and gift products you see in the stores come from? An entrepreneur right here in Toledo, Mark Feldstein began his company basically as a one-man show, setting up as a manufacturer’s representative organization which
specialized in hand-held electronics.
Over time Feldstein realized that the real potential for the business was in developing clever gadgets and gimmick novelty and gift products. That meant traveling to the area of the world where 90 percent of electronics are manufactured, East Asia. He learned that the importer, is at the mercy of the manufacturer. Quality products, timely deliveries, competitive pricing and strong packaging were just some of the obstacles that needed to be tackled head on to survive in the highly competitive market.
A clock that sings
The first “home run” for Feldstein’s company, Mark Feldstein & Associates, came with the introduction of the Original Singing Bird Clock. On one of his trips abroad, Feldstein met with a manufacturer of clocks. He was shown a clock that featured a scene of birds flying in the background. Feldstein knew that there was potential for this product with birdwatching exploding around the world, but he needed time to come up with ideas to make this clock unique. Aligning himself with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Feldstein developed a clock with 12 North American birds and live authentic bird song recordings that would play at the top of each hour. The end result— the Original Singing Bird Clock— is MFA’s largest-selling item to date, with over 8 million sold.
Other inventive ideas
Whether it is the popular Galileo Thermometer, Illuminator No
Battery/No Bulb Flashlight or Flameless LED Candles, Feldstein has a knack for identifying unique items that will sell. According to Feldstein, the “Sam’s Club” customer is different from the “QVC” customer who is also different from the “Rite Aid” customer. He does not attempt to sell a “line,” but rather targets a few products that he believes are correct for each retailer.
As the business continues to grow, Feldstein employs people who have the ability to complement his own skills. He empowers them to develop and maintain the infrastructure to support the expanding business, allowing him to devote time to new product
development and customer sales.
What was your first job?
Working for my grandfather at Brauer’s Delicatessen in The Colony.
What health or lifestyle tips do you support?
Work out. It is a wonderful way to stay active and relieve stress.
Most memorable trip/trips?
Even though I have been to Hong Kong and China over 75 times, many cities in the Far East still rank at the top of my list.
Your biggest self-indulgence?
Work. I’m not a big fan of down time.
I have always wanted to …?
Hit tennis balls with Jimmy Connors.
What trait do you admire in others?
Being willing to forgive.
Your pet peeve?
Putting on the toilet paper the wrong way.
Something most people don’t know about you?
I have a 17-year-old Charitable Foundation that has donated money to many organizations around the area.
Words you live by?
Stay humble, work hard, be kind.
What advice would you give to the younger you?
Don’t always say “No.”
Who is someone you’d like to meet?
Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Group.
What inspires you now?
Charity. It’s inspiring to see someone working hard to create change for the better.