You know the saying…
“Leaves of three, let it be.”
And you know the consequences…
“The itch is insatiable," says Dan Boelman of Zanfel Laboratories in Clive, "it keeps you up at night.”
It’s part of summer…poison ivy and its victims.
“People come into the pharmacy and you look at their arms and legs and you see that they’ve scratched for 2-3 days,” says pharmacist, John Forbes of Medicap Pharmacy in Urbandale.
But the green villain has met its match its match in an Iowa-based superhero…Zanfel.
“Right now," says Boelman, "it’s the only product that’s been clinically show to remove the poison ivy toxin from the layers of your skin and to be able to remove that toxin at any point after the rash breaks out.”
Don’t just listen the marketing guy…
“In my opinion, Zanfel is the best product on the market to treat poison ivy,” says Forbes.
Listen to the pharmacists.
“It really is the only thing out there that actually removes the oil from the skin,” says Angela Holmes of Hammer Pharmacy in the East Village.
Urusiol oil is what makes poison ivy itch, and in 1998, an Illinois man found a way to get rid of it.
The name came to him in a dream.
“It’s one of those things," says Zanfel vice president, Steve Sisler, "where he woke up, jotted it onto a piece of paper and that’s what we have, today.”
Sisler, an Iowa who'd spent most of his career as a buyer for Medicap, was hired to take the reins, and he based the business in a small office in Clive.
“Hands down, we are one of the best-kept secrets in Des Moines,” he says.
The marketing is almost laughably simple.
“Everyone that I’ve shared his with from a marketing background cringes because it’s not pretty, it’s not professional," says Sisler, "but it sells.”
And it works!
“The sign is really plain," Holmes says, "but it really catches a lot of people’s attention.”
Poison ivy sufferers need relief, not gimmicks…and Zanfel’s startling price isn’t an issue.
“When I bring people over to see this product," Forbes says, "first of all I tell them ‘It’s around 35-40 dollars, but I tell them ‘This is the best 35 or 40 dollars you’ll ever spend.”
“The way I look at it," Boelman says, "for the price of half a tank of gas, you can avoid two weeks of complete misery.”
Zanfel’s cost is certainly in manufacturing, not overhead…and advertising consists of Sisler and his five employees handing out samples on the road.
“We’ve been invited by the Boy Scouts to the national jamboree, next month," he says, "75,000 people in a basin of poison ivy! I think we’re going to be busy.”
That’s a guarantee when you’ve got a whole summer outdoors ahead…
And a product that works.