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Barry Becher of Ginsu Knives Fame Dies at 71

11 Jul, 2012 By: Doug McPherson

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The pioneer behind the perhaps the best-known knives ever died July 6. Barry Becher, the marketing genius behind Ginsu knives – one of DRTV’s pioneering products – was 71 and had reportedly been suffering from kidney cancer. He passed at a hospital after complications from surgery.

Becher brought many other products to market, including the Miracle Slicer and Armourcote Cookware with his business partner Ed Valenti. Together they added urgency and value to the sales proposition with limited supplies and “But wait, there’s more!” verbiage. They also guaranteed satisfaction – always.

Becher was born in Brooklyn and left for Rhode Island after high school. His first venture was in auto repair, but then met Valenti, who was selling ads for local TV and overseeing Becher’s auto shop advertising. The Associated Press reports the two drove the same Datsun 240Z, had wives who were schoolmates, shared a passion for sales and became fast friends.

Eventually they began a search for a product they could market through TV spots, the way some records were sold. One of Becher’s first products was a mohair-bristled paint pad that prevented splatter and cut work times. After Madison Avenue rejections, they produced the ad themselves through Dial Media, a joint company they ran out of Becher’s garage. Their first two-minute commercial ended up selling more than a million units and they repeated their winning formula with products others created.

Over the course of a decade, the duo sold $500 million in products. Armourcote was the most profitable, but Ginsu remains the most widely known. Ginsu debuted in 1978 and ran into the early 1980s, replete with demonstrations cutting through cans and chopping wood.

Becher’s funeral was held Monday. His family is considering etching “But wait, there’s more” on his tombstone.

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