A Suntan Can Be a Fun Tan with This New Way to Change Your Oil
updated 05/29/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/29/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
King, 43, came up with the idea in 1985. Watching his wife, Barbara, also 43, pack up half-empty, sandy bottles of suntan oil at the end of a family vacation in Florida, he decided there must be a less messy and more economical way to oil up. "I got to thinking there should be something out there on the beach," says King. "Something for which you could give the kids 50 cents and say, 'Go use the machine.' "
A onetime Dumpster salesman and former job placement counselor, King lacked the technical know-how to design such a machine, so he hired mechanical engineer Dr. Ray Brown. It took four years of development, a $2 million investment and extensive test marketing, but now some 350 straw-roofed Sun Centers have sprouted up in places like Daytona Beach, Galveston and Palm Springs. Public response has been enthusiastic. "People love using the wand," says Barbara King. "Children are just hysterical putting the oil on themselves."
The machine is, in fact, easy enough for a child to operate. Using a hand-held nozzle, a sunbather gets 40 seconds to apply three-fifths of an ounce of suntan oil or lotion. There are three selections to choose from, plus a pick of three sunscreen protection factors—4, 8 and 15. King claims his device covers hard-to-reach places and allows for a more even application, making for a smoother tan.
King boldly predicts he will do $5 million in business this year and hopes to at least double that figure next year. Talk about a magic wand!