Young Millionaires

John Jerit, 37

For John Jerit, success took a name change and some backbone. While working for a fireworks company, Jerit and his partner bought and sold 3-D glasses called Laser Viewers. But he soon found they cost too much and that "fireworks people" didn't like the name Laser Viewers. So, in 1990, with $85,000 in savings, he acquired his part-ner's half of the glasses business and started his Bartlett, Tennessee company, American Paper Optics, renaming his novelty items 3-D Fireworks Glasses.

Hawking his products carnie-style at fireworks shows, or having chapters of organizations like Kiwanis International and the Boys Club of America do -it for a cut, required backbone. Upon deciding to expand his 3-D glasses business beyond the 3-D fireworks model, however, everything changed. Within a year, Jerit's $400,000 sales goal was surpassed, and this year he's expecting $6 million.

Each pair sells for pennies, but -when companies all over the world purchase from the 12-type assortment en masse (we're talking 20 million units) for promotion and retailing, 3-D glasses seem a lot less kitschy.

Aside from meeting impossible deadlines on unbelievably large orders from accounts like a KISS concert tour and National Geographic, success has come through marketing-at trade shows, through direct mail, on the Internet, you name it. "It's about staying in the public eye so when a big project is out there, you're considered for it," Jerit says. "If you don't know about it, it means you haven't done your homework."

Contact Sources

American Paper Optics Inc., (800) 767-8427,

Birdhouse Projects Inc.,

ChildrenFirst Inc.,

Crews Control Corp., (800) 545-CREW,

Icon Lifestyle Marketing, 37 W. 17th St., #7W, New York, NY 10011, (212) 929-3800

i-frontier Corp., (215) 755-2250,

Latham Entertainment, (310) 385-0300

Leading Edge Aviation Services Inc., fax: (714) 556-4023,

Mature Mart Inc., (404) 881-9816,

Tarina Tarantino Designs, (213) 694-1998,

Toes on the Nose Corp., (714) 513-1500,

TransPerfect Translations Inc., (212) 689-5555,

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This article was originally published in the November 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Young Millionaires.

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