trap- ease

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One April morning, Martha House, president of Trap-Ease, entered her office in Moncton, New Brunswick. She paused for a moment to contemplate the Ralph Waldo Emerson quotation that she had framed and hung near her desk: “If a man [can] make a better mousetrap than his neighbor … the world will make a beaten path to his door.” Perhaps, she mused, Emerson knew something that she didn’t. She had the better mousetrap—Trap-Ease—but the world didn’t seem all that excited about it.

Martha had just returned from the National Hardware Show in Toronto. Standing in the trade show display booth for long hours and answering the same questions hundreds of times had been tiring. Yet, this show had excited her. Each year, National Hardware Show officials hold a contest to select the best new product introduced at the show. Of the more than 300 new products introduced at that year’s show, her mousetrap had won first place. Such notoriety was not new for the Trap-Ease mousetrap. Canadian Business magazine had written an article about the mousetrap, and the television show MarketPlace and trade publications had featured it. Despite all this attention, however, the expected demand for the trap had not materialized. Martha hoped that this award might stimulate increased interest and sales.

A group of investors who had obtained worldwide rights to market the innovative mousetrap had formed Trap-Ease in January. In return for marketing rights, the group agreed to pay the inventor and patent holder, a retired rancher, a royalty fee for each trap sold. The group then hired Martha to serve as president and to develop and manage the Trap-Ease organization.

The Trap-Ease, a simple yet clever device, is manufactured by a plastics firm under contract with Trap-Ease. The trap consists of a square, plastic tube measuring about 15 cm long and 4 cm square. The tube bends in the middle at a 30-degree angle, so that when the front part of the tube rests on a flat surface, the

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