Monday, June 29, 2009

Max Appel mourns Billy Mays

Colorado entrepreneurs should mourn Billy Mays as the rest of the world has mourned Michael Jackson.

Mays' infomercials powered one of the state's most successful entrepreneurs, Max Appel, maker of Orange Glo and OxiClean, to fortune and fame for his whole family. (Photo credit:

The Appels sold Orange Glo International to Dwight & Church Co. Inc., owner of the Arm & Hammer brand, three years ago, Max Appel said Monday.

"We're going to miss him," Max, who is 77 now, said of Billy Mays, who boosted Orange Glo's sales in the late '90s from $2 million a year to $12 million.

Here's what a company description on says of the pair's relationship:

"While Orange Glo worked with talented producers, much credit for the success of the infomercials went to pitchman Billy Mays. Appel and Mays met at a Pittsburgh home show and became friends as their paths crossed at other shows. Mays brought sales experience, including hawking Washomatiks on Atlantic City's boardwalk, to the infomercials. Trained by veteran salesmen along the boardwalk, Mays brought a high-energy, hard-sell style to the two-minute and 30-minute infomercials. Eventually, Mays wrote scripts and produced Orange Glo infomercials as well. Orange Glo spent $400,000 per week on response television advertising, which generated 15,000 orders per week."

Max Appel remembered Mays trying out lines on him at breakfast or dinner in Florida where the two often met regularly to produce new Orange Glo infomercials. "He was always using new phrases," Appel said, as he was preparing a press release himself memorializing Mays.

Appel already has a new product he's again selling with infomercials. This one, which by terms of the sale had to be a non-compete item until August of this year , is call the Aaah, produced by Appel's new Aaah Co. It's a wet, toilet-paper wipe, which I told him only half seriously I would be interested in seeing demonstrated on TV.

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