Are razor blade makers just ensuring a big cut?, January 31, 2013

Despite myriad technological advances, blades for shaving still last only a week. Is this a conspiracy by firms to deliberately fleece customers?

Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, the market leader, estimates that about two-thirds of American guys age 15 and older shave with a razor, representing a U.S. market for razors and blades worth more than $2.4 billion a year. (George Marks, Retrofile/Getty Images)

By David Lazarus

January 31, 2013, 5:17 p.m.

We can put men on the moon. We can make computers small enough to carry around in our pockets. But we can’t make a razor blade that stays sharp longer than a week?

It sounds trivial. But the utter lack of progress on the razor front raises fundamental questions about America’s industrial might.

Has the sun set on the age of innovation in this country? Is it possible that American ingenuity has met its match in a relatively modest personal-hygiene product used by millions of consumers?

Or are the likes of Gillette and Schick, which account for about 90% of the replacement-blade market, conspiring to keep razor advances off the shelf to deliberately fleece customers and maintain multibillion-dollar revenue streams?

Either way you look at it, it’s not a terribly flattering portrayal of U.S. business.

The global market for all shaving products is forecast to top $33 billion by 2015, according to Global Industry Analysts, a market researcher.

Procter & Gamble’s Gillette, the market leader, estimates that about two-thirds of American guys age 15 and older shave with a razor, representing a U.S. market for razors and blades worth more than $2.4 billion a year. Worldwide, that market is more than $14 billion.

Schick says most men shave at least three times a week. Razor-Gator.com, a shaving-related website, figures that a man devotes roughly 3,300 hours of his life to shaving.

With those numbers in mind, you’d think teams of engineers would be busy improving the ways and means of a good shave. For example, water causes corrosion on blades, which contributes to making them dull. Isn’t there an alloy, or a coating, to address that?

Moore’s Law famously predicted that computer chips will double in processing power every couple of years or so. The result has been breakneck advances in the technology field. The first iPhone was introduced just six years ago, for instance, and we’re already up to the iPhone 5.

Oh sure, Gillette and Schick keep adding more features. Gillette says its battery-operated Fusion ProGlide razor “delivers soothing micropulses.” Schick says its Hydro Power Select boasts “three vibration settings, easy-to-read indicators and a one-touch control button, allowing men to interact with their razor in a new way.”

Micropulses, vibration settings — this they can do. But they can’t come up with a blade that stays sharp more than a few days?

“Sure they can,” said Jeff Grant, president of Coating Services Group, a Lakeside company that makes scalpels for medical use and thus knows a thing or two about sharp edges. “They could make a ceramic blade that maybe costs $100 and lasts for years.”

Well, that sounds good. An eight-pack of Gillette Mach3 Turbo shaving cartridges — one of the more popular razors — runs $24 at Walgreens. If you figure on changing the cartridge once a week, that would mean spending $156 each year on razor blades.

So, yeah, I’d spend $100 for a blade that lasts for two, three or more years.

And that, Grant told me, is exactly why we’ll never be offered such a chance by Gillette or Schick.

“They’d sell you one blade and they’d be done,” he said. “It’s a business decision.”

Susan Baba, a Gillette spokeswoman, told me she hadn’t heard about any research into ceramic razor blades. But she said the company is dedicated to “figuring out the next stage of razors.”

As for the longevity of current blades, Baba said you can’t generalize. Some people make a blade last a few days, others can go months without changing cartridges.

“It all depends on the length of your hair, how often you shave, how many strokes you use,” Baba said.

Patrick Kane, senior brand manager for the Schick Hydro line, said pretty much the same.

“In general, blade life depends on hair thickness, frequency of shaving, prep usage, pre-shave routine, post-shave routine, technique and brand,” he said. “Because of this, blades will wear out faster or slower based on these particular variables.”

In any case, you’d think the possibility of longer-lasting blades would represent a huge opportunity for any company that wants in on the razor market. Unfortunately, the barriers to entry are high.

Without the economies of scale enjoyed by Gillette and Schick, it’s very difficult for a competitor to leap in with a new product, especially if that product is introduced at the jaw-dropping price of about $100 for a single razor blade.

The math might make sense for a blade lasting years, but not all men will see value in plunking down a C-note for a razor.

So what’s a fellow with a 5 o’clock shadow to do? Well, even if you can’t get a state-of-the-art blade, you can at least trim your grooming bills.

Among various discount-razor outfits online, a Venice company called Dollar Shave Club will mail you five twin-blade cartridges for just $3 a month, which includes shipping costs. Four- and six-blade razors are available for a little more.

Michael Dubin, the chief executive of privately held Dollar Shave Club, was cagey when I asked him how he can operate so cheaply, or even if his company is profitable. He cited competitive reasons for not answering.

But Dubin shared my frustration about the lack of innovation from the market behemoths.

“The big boys put on a vibrating handle or even a small flashlight, and they call that innovation,” he said. “I’d call that superfluous.”

I’d call it a pretty good racket.

David Lazarus‘ column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and followed on Twitter @Davidlaz. Send your tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

 

 

CSG expands facility, June 1, 2012

Lakeside, CA –June 1, 2012 – Coating Services Group, LLC (CSG) is happy to announce that it has signed a long term lease agreement with the River Run Business Park, expanding its floor space and production capabilities.

“We explored many facility options in San Diego County, including the purchase of space in the North County, but decided that our Lakeside location was the best solution to meet our needs to expand quickly.”  Said Jeff Grant, President of Coating Services Group.   He added “Staying in Lakeside was also in the best interest of our highly experienced employees whom live in the immediate area”.  John Salazar, VP of Sales and Marketing noted, “With the business growth we have seen in this first quarter I am excited that we have increased our capacity and avoided any potential for interruption in our services to our valued customers.”

Coating Services Group is now entering its 6th year in Lakeside, but has been providing coating services since 1993.

About Coating Services Group, LLC:
Coating Services Group, LLC (CSG) is a privately held company, which operates, in a modern facility located in Lakeside, CA. The company has dedicated substantial resources to developing and refining coating technology for a number of commercial, industrial and medical applications.

Elmer’s Z-Series Blade, October 10 , 2011

Lakeside, CA –October 10, 2011– Coating Services Group, LLC (CSG) is proud to announce that they have signed an exclusive contract with Elmer’s Products, Inc. to provide them with CSG’s patented process of sharpening and coating on the X-ACTO Number 11 craft blade.

The new product will be called the Z-Series Blade and will be atomically sharpened and then coated with Zirconium Nitride. The result will be a knife that’s more durable, more precise, stronger, and sharper than any other blade on the market.

“This is a marriage of the two great technologies”, said Jeff Grant, President of Coating Services Group, “We take the classic #11 Craft blade which is ideal for precision cutting and trimming, and add our atomic sharpening and our Ion Fusion zirconium coating, and we create the greatest craft knife that has ever been available. The new “Z-Series Blade” will be used for many hobby activities, including woodworking, and can be used on various other projects including plastic, cloth, film, carpet, canvas and acetate. “

“ We are truly honored to have established a working relationship with such a well known and admired American company such as Elmers/X-ACTO.    X-ACTO has been a category leader in crafting knives of the highest quality for over 80 years” added Jeff Grant, Coating Services Group, President.

About Coating Services Group, LLC: Coating Services Group, LLC (CSG) is a privately held company, which operates, in a modern facility located in Lakeside, CA. The company has dedicated substantial resources to developing and refining coating technology for a number of commercial, industrial and medical applications.

About Elmer’s Products Inc.
Elmer’s Products, Inc. headquartered in Columbus, Ohio has been a trusted brand and industry leader for over 60 years. Elmer’s produces a variety of well-known adhesives, arts and crafts, educational and office products for use at home, school or business. Elmer’s branded products are developed to provide project solutions and to inspire people to create, build and learn for life. Elmer’s also markets the number one instant adhesive in the U.S, Instant Krazy Glue, X-ACTO, a leader in innovative cutting blades, knives and office supply products.

About the Transaction:
Additional details of the deal were not disclosed. To learn more about Coating Services Group please visit http://www.coatingservicesgroup.com, and or http://www.ionfusion.com. Additional information about this press release is available by contacting its President, Jeff Grant at 619-596-7444 or by mail. mailto:J.Grant@coatinservicesgroup.com.

October 1, 2011

Lakeside, CA – October 1, 2011- Coating Services Group, LLC (CSG) is proud to announce that they have signed a multi-year contract with a leading local Chinese medical device company for the exclusive rights to distribute and sell the patented IonFusion® scalpel blades in China.

"We believe that our IonFusion scalpel blade is not only the industries sharpest blade but also the world’s most durable blade.  We have great confidence that the Chinese medical community will embrace our blades and the unique technology we offer, says Jeff Grant, President of Coating Services Group.

“We hear everyday about the trade imbalance between our two great countries so we are excited to be exporting our premium priced blades into China.” said

According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, China ranked third, behind the United States and Brazil, with more than two million operations annually, and the number of operations is doubling every year according to the Chinese Health Ministry.

About Coating Services Group, LLC:
Coating Services Group, LLC (CSG) is a privately held Delaware limited liability company, which operates, in a modern facility located in Lakeside, CA. The company has dedicated substantial resources to developing and refining coating technology for a number of commercial, industrial and medical applications.

About the Transaction:
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. To learn more about Coating Services Group please visit http://www.coatingservicesgroup.com, and or http://www.ionfusion.com Additional information about this press release is available by contacting its President, Jeff Grant at 619-596-7444 or by mail: mailto:J.Grant@coatingservicesgroup.com

Quality Policy

Coating Services Group, LLC is committed to meeting customer requirements and providing defect-free on-time product delivery.

Philosophy

Innovate the smartest solution for each problem.

Values

Be the best
Meet or exceed customer expectations
Deliver on all commitments
Treat others with care and respect

April 21, 2011

Lakeside, CA – April 21, 2011- Coating Services Group, LLC (CSG) is proud to announce that John Salazar has joined the company. John will be functioning on a daily basis responsible for Marketing & Sales and, as such, he will be spearheading the initiative to expand CSG’s presence both domestically and internationally. John brings over 20 years business acumen and leadership to the company. John also made a financial investment in the company thereby becoming co-owner (20%) of the company.

 "We are truly excited about the opportunity to join forces with John where his personal strengths, business experience and passion for our products complement the values our company has established within the industry" says Jeff Grant, President of Coating Services Group. "CSG was the exact type of company I was looking to invest in and work for.  With over 1,000 different clients, I am going to be very busy letting them know about my new addition of ownership as well as our updated and new products." adds John Salazar.

 About Coating Services Group, LLC:

Coating Services Group, LLC (CSG) is a privately held Delaware limited liability company which operates in a modern facility located in Lakeside, CA. The company has dedicated substantial resources to developing and refining coating technology for a number of commercial, industrial and medical applications. The company provides a variety of coatings such as Titanium Nitride (TiN), Zirconium Nitride (ZrN), Titanium Carbonitride (TiCN), Titanium Aluminum Nitride (TiAlN) and other surface engineering solutions. Since its inception, Coating Services Group has set the bar for excellence and value for its clients by delivering focused strategic and tactical results using its patented metallic coating technology to provide high quality specialty coating services to our customers. Our technologically advanced surface engineering is applied on flexible metals providing attractive and functional value. Our surface modifications are primarily applied to medical products, dental and orthodontic tools and appliances, military equipment, firearms, industrial tools, cutting blades of all types, consumer products, sporting equipment, jewelry, and many other surfaces.

 About John Salazar:    

John Salazar, a native of Southern California, moved to San Diego in 1977. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing, and a minor in Political Science from San Diego State University. After graduation, he worked for a local congressman and then formed his own marketing company. He spent the next 25 years growing the firm, which ultimately became an industry leader in customer service and acquisition.  Mr. Salazar left the company in 2009 to pursue other interests. He has since worked for the San Dieguito and Escondido School Districts as a teacher. Mr. Salazar lives with his wife, Donna, in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. The Salazars have three children.

 About the Transaction:

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. To learn more about Coating Services Group please visit www.coatingservicesgroup.com. Additional information about this press release is available by contacting its President, Jeff Grant at 619-596-7444 or by email.

January 17, 2011

GreyRoad Acquires Molecular Metallurgy, Inc

San Diego, California – 17 January 2011 –GreyRoad Ventures B.V. (GreyRoad) proudly announces the purchase of all assets of Molecular Metallurgy, Inc. (MMI) including its medical division Ion Fusion Surgical. The new company will continue its daily business activities under its new name, “Coating Services Group LLC” – (CSG). 

About Molecular Metallurgy Corporation
MMI was a privately held service coating company with its plant and offices at Lakeview, California.  MMI was a recognized leader in the area of specialty coatings holding several patents for medical devices, coating technologies and consumer products.  Through its medical division, Ion Fusion Surgical, MMI sold patented medical devices using its proprietary technologies.  MMI had provided products and services to several Fortune 500 companies. The Coating Services Group will continue to service all of MMI’s customers.

About GreyRoad Ventures
GreyRoad is a Venture Capital Company founded by Hans Sleeuwenhoek, with offices in San Marcos, California, United States and Bilthoven, the Netherlands. The Company focuses on Direct Marketing, Medical Device, IT and Telecom opportunities. In addition to financial assistance, GreyRoad actively supports its partner organizations to achieve their company goals. GreyRoad is staffed with an experienced group of goal oriented business specialists, managers and business entrepreneurs.

"The successful acquisition of MMI allows GreyRoad to build its presence in the U.S. medical and related coating markets. The propriety MMI technology will allow us to drastically grow our organization allowing us the opportunity to become market leaders in certain specified niches" said Jeff Grant, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Coating Services Group and former President of MMI.

About the transaction
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.