Larry Melberg and LuAnne McNichols, owners of The Perfect Peel, didn’t start out as pizza board makers. It was their ability to listen to customers and respond to market demand that moved them in that direction.
The Fox City SCORE clients, and participants in the Green Bay Packer Mentor/ Protégé Program, made the boards as a side part of Melberg’s business when interest in the product increased.
“The business was founded in 1986,” Melberg explained. “When I started out, I had the idea to make wood products and not kitchen cabinets like everyone else. We made some products and the next thing we know we made a pizza peel and presented it to a fundraising company. They were selling so fast that we couldn’t keep up.”
He tried to sell to other companies, but importing was gaining in popularity and distributors were looking for cheap, lower-quality products. As the market fizzled, Melberg turned to the business he had initially ignored and started selling custom kitchen cabinets. But, the pizza boards, also known as pizza peels and pizza paddles, remained in the background.
In 2012, when McNichols came on as a partner, she persuaded Melberg to refocus on the pizza peels. He agreed, and the new business was given a separate identity, “The Perfect Peel.” (www.thebakersboard.com).
“LuAnne inspired me to realize we were more of an artistic pizza peel versus just a functional tool and should go after the gourmet market. Shortly after, we got an order for 5,000 peels and that made us feel like we had made the right decision,” Melberg said.