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June 09, 1989 - Image 55

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-06-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

BUSINESS

~

ion Dollar Razor

4e....,t

4

A kibbutznik assembles the world-famous Epilady.

U

pper Galilee — Israeli
Eris Efrat, 21, just
completed active duty
in the Army. Now she
wants to buy a car. So
she took a temporary job at
Kibbutz Hagoshrim, where
she earns about $1,000 a
month working on the
Epilady assembly line.
"In six months, I'll buy a
car and then I'll go to school
in Tel Aviv," Efrat says. "I will
study accounting."
Efrat's salary is well above
the average Israeli's monthly
$850 income. It is also an ex-
traordinarily high figure for
a resident of the collective set-
tlement that a few years ago
was just another of Israel's
280 debt-ridden kibbutzim.
Together, Israel's kibbutzim
share a $4 billion debt, which
began to accumulate when
the Labor Party lost its
dominance in the Knesset in
the late 1970s. Afterward,
loans — easy to get during
Labor's days of power —
became hard to secure, and
banks started calling in their
notes.
Now, only a handful of kib-
butzim, Hagoshrim among
them, are reaping any profits.
Thanks to its 1982 inven-
tion of the Epilady, the first
revolutionary electrically-
powered rotating coil hair
remover for women, Hagosh-
rim is able to share its wealth
by paying hefty wages to

members of the 300-person
kibbutz. Its business opera-
tions are called Mepro.
Sales have soared from $2
million to $70 million in the
last three years, according to
Dun and Bradstreet analysts.
And Epilady officials project
that sales will surpass $80
million by the end of the year.
"We are riding a tide on the
back of a tiger," says Hillel
Brusten, project manager of
the 120-person Mepro factory
where the Epilady is made.
Mepro is the parent company
for all Epilady manufacturers
nationwide. "And we have to
keep riding or we will fall off."
The Epilady yanks hair out
by the roots, meaning hair
takes longer to grow back
than shaving with a razor
blade. Consumer Reports
tested the product among 24
women, (only 16 completed
the test) and found that hair
removal with the Epilady
lasted two to three times
longer than shaving.
Consumer Reports writes
the Epilady feels "like an ex-
pandable watch band snagg-
ing on a hairy wrist." Al-
though it may be painful, its
popularity is skyrocketing
among women throughout
the world.
In the United States alone,
3.5 million units have been
sold since it hit store shelves
in 1987. Thirty-six countries,
including the United States,

The Mepro factory where the Epilady is made.

The Epilady,
made in Israel,
has helped
revive Mepro
Kibbutz
Hagoshrim.

KIMBERLY LIFTON

Staff Writer

have patented the product,
which range in price from $40
for a one-speed appliance to
$69 for a deluxe cordless
model with three speeds.
The rotating coils are made
exclusively on the kibbutz.
Some finished products are
assembled in Israel; others
are put together in plants in
Hong Kong and Brazil.
Similar arrangements are be-
ing negotiated for plants in
Spain, Argentina and India.
Distribution offices also are
located in Los Angeles and
New York.
Hagoshrim's success also
has provided work for other
kibbutzim. Mepro opened
nearby assembly lines at Kib-
butz Kfar Szold and Kibbutz
Hatzor, and a packaging
plant at Kibbutz Mahanaim.
Brusten calls Epilady's suc-
cess a marketing
phenomenon. Word about a
fast, efficient way to remove
hair spread quickly, and the
product was test-marketed in
Israel. Now four companies —
two in Europe, one in Israel,
one in the United States and
one in South America — sell
the products throughout the
world.
"The worst thing that can
happen is that we won't have
enough units to supply the
market," Brusten says.
To remain in the black,
Hagoshrim officials are laun-
ching new ventures. Hagosh-

rim is working with Kibbutz
Ein Gedi and three other kib-
butzim in the Dead Sea
region to produce cosmetics
based on minerals from the
Dead Sea. Plans are under-
way to sell the cosmetics
internationally.
Also on the market is the
Episauna, an at-home facial
sauna made in the United
States by EPlproducts, which
manufactures the Epilady for
the Israeli parent company.
Before the end of the year,
Brusten adds, a shower
massager with three rotating
brushes should be ready for
sales.

L

ike other Israeli kib-
butzim, Hagoshrim is a
collective settlement
founded on utopian com-
munal ideologies that helped
mold modern Zionistic prin-
ciples. Members emphasize
equality. Profits are shared;
everything is jointly owned.
Established in 1948 by
Jewish immigrants from
Turkey, the kibbutz relied
heavily upon agricultural in-
dustry for its livelihood.
Members of Hagoshrim bank-
ed on avocado, cotton, corn,
wheat, kiwis and apples.
As kibbutz members
throughout the state grew
less satisfied working the
fields and living the simple
life, they opted for new ideas.
They watched as the nation

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

55

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