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Lights, Car, Action

Knock, Knock

Inventors often ask, "How do I prevent overseas competitors from knocking off my product?" Jack Panzarella, who has held off foreign competition even though his neon products have been copied by overseas companies, tells what's worked for him: "I've tried to keep expanding the product line, upgrading the older products in the line, and offering a wide variety of products for auto accessory dealers to sell. A retailer can't buy the entire product line from anyone but me. So far, retailers haven't wanted to carry neon products from two companies." U.S. companies have one big advantage over foreign competition--they know more about U.S. customers. But that advantage doesn't mean much unless you translate it into new products and product upgrades that meet the constantly changing needs of the market. Panzarella has several patents and trademarks, but beyond that, he knows fending off the competition requires a wide, innovative and up-to-date product line that retailers want to carry.

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This article was originally published in the February 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Lights, Car, Action.

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