Korea's Top Exporters (18) Penta Zone Strikes Gold with Potty-N-Stool

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), May 18, 1999 | Go to article overview

Korea's Top Exporters (18) Penta Zone Strikes Gold with Potty-N-Stool


Most people know that toilet-training a child is important. If they don't, a casual study of Freud and his libido theories would cast light on its value.

Despite this common public knowledge, a study by The New York Times last year showed that only 4 percent of two-year-olds and 60 percent of three-year-olds in the U.S. are potty-trained. The figure was 92 percent for 18-month-old babies in 1957. The main reason for the drop -- working mothers today don't have the time for traditional child-rearing.

The problem may be solved with Penta Zone Inc.'s musical Potty-N-Stool -- a musical toilet bowl that laughs and sings everytime a child uses it. The toilet is so much fun and so easy to use that children may soon boycott the use of diapers, its makers boast.

The unique product belongs to Chai In-kee, president of Penta Zone Inc., a four-employee firm located in a one-room office in Panbae-dong.

``There is nothing more important in early childhood stages than toilet training and I challenge you to tell me a better way to do it than with this,'' he said during an interview with The Korea Times.

People seem to agree. Since the company started exporting the current model last year, orders have been pouring in from all over the world -- 20 countries, to be exact, with the largest orders from the U.S.

Last year, Penta Zone exported $1 million worth of products, 50,000 units in all, and expects to at least double these results this year as it recently signed a contract with Cosco, U.S. based distributor, which will sell through two chain stores -- Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney. U.S. sales so far this year are already at 70,000.

The company opened in 1993 when Chai heard from a friend who lives in L.A. of an American who used the musical seat method to train his four-year-old son.

``I had always wanted to own my business and when I heard the idea, I thought this is my opportunity,'' the Yonsei University economics graduate said.

His first model, based on Japanese products, however, was a giant flop due to its uncomfortable design. But three years later, he hit the jackpot with the current model. …

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