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Published: Friday, 2/10/2006

Through baseball bats, cars, area firm's product stands up

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Matthew Peterman, left, and Sammy Harvey paint mailboxes at GDM in Huron. Matthew Peterman, left, and Sammy Harvey paint mailboxes at GDM in Huron.
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HURON, Ohio - Glenn Peterman offers ideal protection to homeowners in uncertain times: The Lexington.

It's 12-gauge and designed to foil a baseball-bat-wielding trespasser.

"Come on, Baby!" is Mr. Peterman's response to would-be challengers.

The Lexington is one of 10 styles of extra-strength mailboxes produced by his GDM Mailbox Co. LLC, of Huron. The firm, which has tested its product with a baseball bat, promises to protect the box and its contents from vandals, identity thieves, and careening cars.

His Heavybilt brand mailboxes, ranging in price from $80 to $350, are part of a class of high-end boxes that appeal to security and style-conscious homeowners nationwide.

Glenn Peterman says his products are popular in Bill Gates' neighborhood. Glenn Peterman says his products are popular in Bill Gates' neighborhood.
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Made of strengthened aluminum or 12-gauge steel, GDM's Lexington, Country Estate, Belmont, and other lines can withstand 23,000 pounds of pressure.

Mr. Peterman puts it in easier-to-understand terms. "I have a picture of a semi-truck sitting on top of my smallest mailbox."

A former auto plant welder and machinist, he was inspired to design his first mailbox in 1991 to foil young motorists who engage in a form of vandalism known as "mailbox baseball."

Later models addressed other threats. A special locking mechanism that is available on some models remains open for mail carriers but locks once they shut the door.

Other boxes include lockable sections.

Mr. Peterman, of Sandusky, has been told the mailboxes are popular in Bill Gates' neighborhood in suburban Seattle.

The mailboxes showed up in an episode of the former TV show X-Files. Producers ordered a dozen of them after being assured by Mr. Peterman that the posts could accommodate a set of handcuffs (To check, GDM's owner borrowed a pair from the local police force).

The boxes are sold over the Internet at Directmailbox.com and at major hardware chains. He has sold 2,500 this year and more than 100,000 since he began marketing them.

They bring in about $1.5 million a year, he said. And sales have grown every year.

The mailboxes are so popular that Mr. Peterman is beginning work on an addition that will boost by 50 percent the space in his 18,000-square-foot plant in this Erie County community.

GDM employs seven. The firm has reduced its workforce needs by installing a robotic welder.

Some models have lifetime warranties on material and workmanship, but the mailboxes aren't guaranteed to be indestructible.

The company has been informed about only a "handful" of destroyed mailboxes.

"But if somebody wants to destroy a Sherman tank, they can," Mr. Peterman said.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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