Hertfordshire Inventor Strikes Multi-Million Dollar Deal With US Tool Company

Alfie Brown

Brush and homewares manufacturer Charles Bentley & Son has signed a multi-million pound deal to make and sell a marking pen for workmen and women, and DIYers, the product was invented by Hertfordshire entrepreneur Martin Chard.

The family-owned business is supplying a US tool company to produce the pressurised Marxman pens which marks screw holes for electrical, plumbing, building jobs with a single push.

It has agreed to ship more than a million Marxman pens each year to tool company US Tape under the £2.3 million deal.

The pens were developed by self-employed building maintenance worker Martin Chard, from Hertfordshire, who back in 2016 won £50,000 of investment from Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden in exchange for a 30 per cent stake in the business.

Each one contains more than 250 bursts of removable fluorescent green pigment that can mark surfaces including brick, metal, wood, pebbledash, porcelain and ceramic, ready for drilling.

Charles Bentley struck a European license to manufacture and distribute the pens a couple of years ago along with the rights for plasterboard fixing anchor Gripit, which was also backed by Deborah Meaden on the BBC show.

The home products specialist has manufacturing plants in both the UK and China, and added both to its existing portfolio of DIY and home products.

Steve Law, sales director at Charles Bentley, said: “After successful negotiations the first shipment of over 100,000 units left Loughborough last week and we expect to hit over a million pens a year by year three.”

The pen uses a standard aerosol can and specially adapted nose cones to deliver the chalk shot. A non-toxic propellant delivers the chalk when the pen is activated.

The Marxman marking pen

Managing director Charles Bentley said: “We work on a number of projects for Deborah Meaden, this is one such project and after taking on a licence for another of Deborah’s investments, the plaster board fixing Gripit, it was a natural step to team up with Marxman to produce and distribute the marker.

“We have considerably increased the manufacturing capacity by developing and investing in more automation to the manufacturing process.

“Marxman is unique in the way it can deliver a non-permanent mark through any item that needs to be fixed in a certain position, the alternative would be using a pen or pencil, so it really is a one of a kind solution.https://9c701d183e08aa96616712900d215995.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html76659595577

“We are delighted to work with Marxman to offer our expertise in developing product enhancements, packaging and other retail presentations.

“The partnership with US Tape is the first step in transitioning the product into the US market under new brand, Chalk Shot.”

In the UK, Marxman is sold by retailers and independent stores including Amazon, Robert Dyas, Wickes, Toolstation, Wilko and Howdens.