At a time of life when most people are content to sit back in an easy chair, 75-year-old retired Adelaide accountant Brian Measday CPA is busier than ever, mastering the complexities of patents, distributors, licensing and marketing for his simple but ingenious Australian product, the Greenwell Water Saver.
“In the last five years, we’ve sold more than 300,000 units just in Australia,” says Measday, who collects royalties from the product he launched in 1997.
“I hold patents on the product for Australia, the US and also in the UK. And I have trademark protection in those countries and in South Africa.”
Made for the hot and thirsty Australian climate, the Greenwell is a plastic ring that is partly buried in the ground around the base of newly planted trees. Water is directed deep into the tree’s roots, reducing water wastage, bills and watering frequency and boosting the chances of keeping newly planted trees alive.
“Not a drop of water is wasted,” says Measday.
The idea for the Greenwell was born when Measday found it hard to tend his vegetable garden, which was on a slope and kept losing water in run-off. He came up with the Greenwell solution to keep the water where it was needed, then set out to get it manufactured.
The Greenwell units are now used by both home gardeners and councils across the UK and in Australia, where it’s sold by major hardware chains including Bunnings, Masters and Mitre 10.
Wholesale distribution in Australia is handled by HR Products and in the UK by Antelco. Manufacturing is likely to start in the US.
“We were selling quite a lot overseas into the US market through a garden catalogue, but then the exchange rate went through the roof, so now we’re planning to have the product manufactured in the US,” explains Measday.
“We’ve had lots and lots of discussions and it’s looking promising.”
The product has been awarded Smart Approved WaterMark Expert Panel status – Australia’s water conservation label for products that help to save water – and was a finalist in the 2010 savewater! Alliance awards in Australia.
Having worked for 40 years as a public practitioner in Adelaide, Measday finds his business skills have been very useful in setting up his own venture.
“Without that background, I don’t think I could have done it,” he says.
“When you’re organising patents, trademarks and distributors and appointing people to be licensed to sell the product for you, it’s very complicated. Unless you have that background in business, it would be very difficult. You’d pay a fortune in professional fees.”
One main challenge he faced was with US patents. “In Australia and in the UK, the patents went through fairly quickly, but in the US it took many years and was incredibly expensive.”
So will he ever retire again?
“I’ll keep going for as long as I can, then I’d like my two sons to take over,” he says. “I love it, it’s terrific. I get to talk to people overseas and to those who are genuinely interested in the environment.”
One piece of advice
Many people who have an idea or invention tend to be keen, but unless you have the proper business foundations or the right acumen, it’s never going to work. A good idea is to get someone to advise you on how to set up the business structure before you start.
This article is from the April 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK magazine.