January 22, 2017

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Scott Paper Towels


How one manufacturer capitalized on a supplier’s mistake

In 1890, the Scott Paper Company pioneered bathroom tissue – less delicately known as toilet paper. It took large rolls of paper, converted them into small rolls and marketed them to consumers.

In 1907 a supplier shipped Scott a mistake — a big mistake: rolls of paper that were too heavy and too textured for bathroom use.

But instead of sending them back, owner Arthur Scott came up with a new idea. He perforated the paper so it could be torn into individual sheets .  He called them “Sani Towels,” a more hygienic alternative to cloth and sold them to schools, businesses, railroads and hotels.

In capitalizing on a supplier’s mistake, Scott had invented paper towels – which he began offering to consumers in 1931. Eventually “Scott Paper Towels” were sold the world over.  Today, a wide variety of suppliers produce paper towels — in a wide range of patterns, designs and strengths. From small, soft and delicate, to big, tough and absorbent.  And a century later the Scott Brand is still alive.

Arthur Scott exemplifies one of our Axioms For EntrepreneursGo with the flow.

He turned a supplier’s mistake, into a new product that changed his company, and the way we live.

Paper towels. Now why didn’t I think of that?

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