The Story of .… Unicure
by Richard Tucker "Mr. Unicure"
"Code name" "The Medicine Man" - Founder of the Unicure Brand"
In 1969 Unicure’s conditioning formula was introduced to Richard Tucker to try for 90 days. It was the hippy era of long,
unmanageable, tangled, frizzy hair. His test market of friends and hair dressers showed unbelievable results. It only took one
treatment to impress the beauty salons into purchasing the product. Mr. Tucker, dreaming of success with this new formula, offered
the exclusive distributor a partnership and moved his family to Vancouver, BC. The partner would take care his beauty supply
company and leave Mr. Tucker free to work across Canada.
The secret to Unicure’s instant success in Canada was the following:
The product worked ... One treatment was enough ..... "Instant Results"
Mr. Tucker’s knowledge, understanding and connections in the Beauty Salon Market,
Mr. Tucker’s availability to travel extensively, live on the road seven days a week.
Mr. Tucker’s experience as a salesman, sales manager, CEO and owner of a Beauty Wholesale Company, a marketing specialist.
As the British Columbia Representative of the "Allied Beauty Association" in Canada, (dealing with fellow supply company’s
problems and earning their respect was very important)
When kicking off Unicure Mr. Tucker was welcomed by his fellow wholesalers, they were pleased to have a man they knew and
respected and who was known as the best "training sales manager in Canada"
Introducing Unicure with "motivational" sales meetings, set up sales programs and work one day with each of the beauty supply companies salesman.
Lecturing, beauty shows and sales meetings across the country teaching salespeople and hairdressers (the Doctors of hair) how to sell to their clients instead of sending them to the Drug Stores (that was when Unicure was Professional).
By the end of 1972 Unicure was the #1 selling Professional Product.
Mr. Tucker’s extensive traveling meant he trusted his partner to be working, however, it was found that this partner was not, forcing Mr. Tucker to sever their relationship. Using the ultimate of fairness, Mr. Tucker cut the pie and gave his partner first choice between the lucrative Canadian market or the yet untouched USA market. The partner took the established Canadian market and Mr. Tucker was left the USA market.
Mr. Tucker’s beauty wholesale company was financed by Helene Curtis who thought Mr. Tucker was spending too much time with Unicure. They gave him an ultimatum - choose Helene Curtis or Unicure! Much to their surprise Mr. Tucker chose Unicure for his future.
October 1972, Mr. Tucker from selling businesses had $10,000 for traveling expenses. Kicking off the US market, he started at Kayser Beauty Supply Co. with 30 salesman in Buffalo, NY. At the same time he was negotiating a partnership with a long time friend with extensive business and banking experience. A deal was finalized with Mr. Tucker owning 60% and his new partner owning 40% of the company.
January 1973, with a new partner in place, Mr. Tucker started in Florida working with a wholesaler and his salesmen, putting together a perfect distribution system. It was similar to Canada but better and much more detailed. Word had traveled of Mr. Tucker and Unicure and he was welcomed by the industry as in Canada. One of the major differences was that each wholesaler would have to recommend his competition and line Mr. Tucker up for his next sales meeting and challenge. Mr. Tucker once again lived out of a car as he traveled ss across the United States setting up distributors. As the sales grew and the company became more solid financially, the partners decided to purchase the formula from the Denmark Laboratory.
By 1976 Unicure was the number one selling professional product in the United States. Mr. Tucker was recognized as the superstar of the industry. Mr. Reveston, owner of Revlon Inc., personally liked Mr. Tucker’s style (similar to his own) and was interested enough to make an offer to purchase the company for $2 million, however, negotiations broke down with the death of Mr. Reveston.
Early 1977 Helene Curtis, not wanting to get into a bidding war, offered Mr. Tucker his own Unicure line under the Helene Curtis umbrella on the condition that the legal problems were taken care of. At this time Mr. Tucker’s partner and packager were trying to force Mr. Tucker to give up his controlling interest to the packager creating destructive legal and financial problems for the company. This was the beginning of the end.
The bidding war did not take place when the giants of the industry found out that Unicure could replace 8 - 10 products. It was at this time the wholesalers, who also distribute for the giants, began diverting the product to the retail market destroying the professional market overnight. Sales went from $4 million and doubling yearly to less than $1 million in one year. The Professional Market is driven by Quality, Performance and word of mouth WHEREAS the Retail Market is all about ADVERTISING and has nothing to do with quality or performance. The retail market’s advertising strategy is called ....."BIG MONEY MARKETING!"
Mr. Tucker’s time and effort was being used in court cases and not selling where his ability lay. With diversion running rampant, Mr. Tucker tied up in court with partner and packager, his bank called the credit lines and the blizzard of Buffalo buried the company plus numerous other problems.
The Professional Market had been destroyed. The product was selling in Salons for $6.95 to $19.95 per bottle (without complaint, WHY? Because it worked!) but the diverted retail product was being featured at discount stores at $1.49 and Drug stores at $1.99 killing the professional market.
Starting over again in Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Tucker set up his own offices, manufacturing and packaging plant in a Fortune 500 business park (a promotional gem). Beautiful offices, beautiful young people, visited by all of the top executives in the industrial park.. It was also visited by Coca-Cola executives who showed an interest if Unicure had been doing at least $100 million in sales. Mr. Ted Turner also visited the company, who considered Mr. Tucker a friend, and was envious of Unicure’s offices. Sponsoring a Big Brother/Sisters Fathers Day Atlanta Braves Baseball Game, Mr. Turner had Mr. Tucker throw out the first ball and gave the Unicure staff the use of his sky box. Unicure continued to grow through the 1980’s where sales eventually reached a high of $6 million in the USA. This was without banking support and little or no advertising.
Mr. Tucker’s expertise was in motivating the professional beauty market which is much more personal than the retail market. He hired a sales manager with Kmart connections and professional brokerage firms to call on the retail market. With continued legal problems and no financial backing survival was a daily challenge that the company thrived on. "Unicure was the Champion of Survival."
December 1990 the end came after many years of court cases (many worthless victories) and lawyers draining his finances. His final case was an expected victory. However, watching in disbelief, as the ineptitude of the lawyers caused a loss and the results broke him emotionally. Taking defeat very hard Mr. Tucker decided for health reasons to step down (a nervous breakdown). He felt he was unable to produce the results necessary for his miracle product to grow. Not wanting to hold the company back he decided to sell (pass the baton) the company to a more financially sound entrepreneur.
In 1991 Mr. Tucker sold his company, to what he believed was a strong, financially viable Medical Distribution Company. He felt along with the retail market the product belonged in Hospitals. Their agreement guaranteed Mr. Tucker a lifetime contract of $10,000 per month as well as commissions. He was to participate in sales meetings, beauty shows, lectures and promotional fund raisers for Unicure. Surprisingly he seldom heard from them which caused him much concern. Seeing his contract was for a lifetime.
Mr. Tucker’s real passion is his love for his product (not the money) and he would not sign the agreement unless there were terms defining moneys ($50,000.00/month) to be used for advertising. His dream was to get the product to the needy people. The agreement was signed, however, the new company never lived up to its agreement and Unicure was not promoted properly during those years. Throughout the 1990’s Unicure was used for its volume and distribution instead of the product leader it is. Once again major problems. The final disappointment - the public were buying Unicure for less than cost!
Within 5 years the company had filed for a chapter 11. Medical Packaging Technologies was then bought and continued to sell, but not market, the Unicure brands and within 1 year the new company would no longer honor the contract with Mr. Tucker. So they evicted him from his small office where his computer and printer were stolen and refused delivery of 16,000 cases of the conditioner which was owing to Mr. Tucker. Mr. Tucker was told, by the company owner, a non-practicing lawyer, point blank, "Do what you have to" (he then moved to Las Vegas, NV). The only good news was that they had sold over 600,000 cases which meant millions of people got the chance to try Unicure’s quality and performance. He had regained the rights to market, manufacture and package the Unicure brands. Funding for the rebirth of Unicure has come at the expense of Mr. Tucker’s retirement money.
From 1996 -1999 Mr. Tucker began to rebuild the company. The retail market was abandoned to rebuild value into the product. All Mr. Tucker could afford was a toll-free number and an Internet site (www.unicure.com). Marketing efforts were directed into direct mail order and Internet sales. The product price was reestablished at $4.95 + S&H per 12 oz bottle (similar to 1969 pricing). The customer had to buy it in case lot (12 bottles at a time) - A tough sale - It had to be Quality!
A majority of Unicure’s stable clientele have problem hair or skin and can tell the difference between Unicure’s quality and what is available on the market today. Mr. Tucker’s personal opinion of Proctor & Gamble’s "Pert Plus": "How bad is Pert Plus? I wouldn’t use it on a dog I hate!" He has asked over 7000 people for their comments and all were in agreement with Mr. Tucker - not one person backed Pert Plus. Is it really that bad? Or is Unicure just that good! In fairness to Pert Plus these people had all used Unicure. It is like driving a new Cadillac convertible then switching to an old Volkswagen Beetle - There’s No Comparison.
In July of 2002, Unicure USA Inc. granted an exclusive license of the Unicure Brand to TSI.
We are proud of our story and are always looking for our family of clients to share their thoughts with us.