Full ‘Marx’: Marxman Pen Up Against the Dragons

Full ‘Marx’: Marxman Pen Up Against the Dragons

It was full ‘Marx’ from the Dragons when self-employed building and maintenance man, Martin Chard, presented his product to the panel of entrepreneurs – Professional Builder’s Lee Jones talks to the marking tool’s inventor.

The building industry is littered with examples of tradesmen conjuring time-saving solutions on site. Whether it’s a bespoke item that never makes it beyond that particular builder’s toolbox, or a product that is destined for mass production, it is a testament to the problem-solving mindset of the great British tradesmen that, over the years, we at Professional Builder have encountered so many.

Where Martin Chard stands apart, however, is in a self-avowed ambition since his formative years to be a successful inventor, and now the 50-year-old tradesman is set to fulfil that objective with the Marxman.

“I first went to Forresters patent attorneys at 18, and have treated it largely as a hobby,” recalls Martin. “To be honest, for the best part of thirty years they’ve been telling me not to spend my money on whatever idea I had at marxman-may-2015-002the time, so when they actively encouraged me to develop the Marxman further I knew I was on to something.”

It was an enthusiasm that five of the UK’s most respected business people would share when Martin, with wife Jenny alongside, was subjected to the ordeal of a trial by Dragons on the hit BBC show, but the long journey to the television studio was far from uneventful and encompassed many years of hard work.

“I actually came up with the idea all the way back in 2007,”explains Martin, “but the first patent didn’t come into effect until 2010. I was trying to fit a sink, but couldn’t mark the drilling position on the wall and see the marks clearly.

“After several frustrating attempts, in desperation I reached for a can of black spray paint and marked it with that and it was then that the Marxman was effectively born as a concept.”

“If I had known the bigger picture back then I would have been far more daunted by the prospect of pursuing the Marxman to the point we are at now but, given that my inventions have been a hobby of mine for so long, it was a dream I simply had to chase.

“There was no prospect of spending any money on it because we just didn’t have any. That necessitated that the finished product would be simple but effective in design, and it was only when I took three months off work to devote my time to it exclusively, that I actually got it to a condition where it could be manufactured.”

img_0888If you’ve ever had trouble marking a hole before drilling it then reaching for the Marxman could be the solution. With one push it delivers a burst of brightly coloured chalk that marks any surface ready for drilling or fixing, even at a distance from the wall.

“A company called Replas Machinery has done an excellent job producing all the tooling for me.” Martin continues: “Then came the calculations as to price point and all of the details that retailers demand. The Marxman has now been on sale for a year, and hopefully Deborah can take it to the next level.” One of the most experienced of the Dragons’ offered a £50k investment for 30 per cent of the business and it was Meadon’s involvement in previous building industry innovations such as GripIt that encouraged Martin Chard to accept her offer rather than one of the other Dragons – four of whom made counter bids.

“In order to satisfy demand, we need to ramp up production, and alongside that we need access to retailers. Deborah is a fantastic businesswoman with a huge amount of knowledge and experience in this sector that will really help us develop our offering and expand our network.”

“We are the first to admit that we have very little business experience and we know we need a lot of help. We’ve been able to get this far thanks to the extraordinary support we’ve had from people like Mike Mulvey, friends, family and the various businesses big and small we’ve asked advice from along the way. We are extremely grateful to everyone that has believed in Marxman and played a part in our journey so far.”

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