Winner's Circle

Drive And Ambition

First Place

Seeking high-profile advertising on a low-profile budget is always a challenge. For Carlos Fortier, owner of Ponce, Puerto Rico-based GRAFOR Manufacturing Laboratories Inc., getting the name of his product known was a priority.

Fortier, who manufactures a nonprescription ointment for arthritis and muscle pain, was slowly making his way around Puerto Rico by personally visiting each drugstore. The business he started in 1994 was growing steadily, but Fortier ran into snags when larger drugstores refused to stock his product due to lack of advertising. With a modest $200, Fortier solved the problem. He purchased a small trailer, painted his product logo on both sides, and hitched it to the back of his truck when he made sales calls.

"I would greet customers in parking lots, so many people saw the billboard," says Fortier, 34. With a little creative effort, his company generated $180,000 in sales last year.

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