A Publication of WTVP

Dr. Paul Kinsinger doesn’t have a retail sales background. He doesn’t have a professional marketing team working for him, and says he speaks to customers as “a doctor rather than a product developer.” But don’t be fooled into thinking that he doesn’t possess a rare type of business savvy. Kinsinger is the talent responsible for nearly every aspect of one of the fastest-selling new products at Walgreens stores in central Illinois—Dr. Paul’s Piggy Paste, a gel used to soften and improve the appearance of toes disfigured by fungal infection.

Dr. Kinsinger is not your typical entrepreneur. Already a successful practicing physician at Illini Family Medicine in Washington, Illinois; co-medical director of the hospice program at Peoria’s Methodist Medical Center; and dedicated family man, Kinsinger still finds time to let his natural curiosity and enthusiasm for problem-solving take hold of his imagination.

“Physicians have to deal with multiple-choice questions,” Kinsinger says in reference to required board certification tests he must take every seven years to maintain his medical license. “There are a set of possible answers that are given to you, but the real answers to the situation aren’t so simple. You have to look for the explanations that aren’t given to you. I use this critical thinking when I practice medicine, and as a parent.”

A self-proclaimed “outside-of-the-box” thinker and “idea man,” Kinsinger has found new doors opening up for him precisely because of his unique way of approaching an agitating problem.

Doctor Knows Best
For Dr. Kinsinger, work as a medical professional isn’t an impediment to his projects as an inventor and entrepreneur. In fact, it was his experience in the field that precipitated his idea for the Piggy Paste.

“I knew penetrating gels from working in a hospice and working with cancer patients,” he explains. Such products are sometimes used to treat diseases that affect soft tissues that surround and support body organs. Kinsinger believed that Listerine and vinegar could be combined into a safe gel that would help soften unsightly and uncomfortable toes afflicted by fungal infection, and Piggy Paste was born.

Kinsinger’s background as a practicing physician in central Illinois is more than just what provided him the necessary information to design the product—it has also helped him gain the trust of customers and distributors.

“I have credibility because I’m a professional physician,” he notes. While he may not have experience, he does have a hands-on understanding of the way the paste works that many other medical product designers lack. “Let’s say a representative from a drug company comes in. They know all about the product, but they didn’t invent it. It’s helpful when the inventor knows everything about the product and is able to communicate everything that happened.”

Dr. Kinsinger’s unconventional blend of ponderous tinkering and impressively technical medical knowledge—coupled with a little persistence—has taken the product from drawing room abstraction onto the shelves of dozens of retailers, including 30 Walgreens stores nationwide.

Family Physician Goes Corporate
“When I ordered 5,000 tubes this January, my wife joked, ‘Well, we’ll have plenty to decorate the house with,’” laughs the good-humored Kinsinger. And his spouse wasn’t the only one who was unsure of the product.

“Some people have not liked the name Piggy Paste,” remarks the doctor. “One associate even warned, ‘You cannot sell the product with this name.’”

“Can an intelligent, college-educated woman who knows nothing about the back story of this product pick it up and put it in her shopping cart? That’s always been the question,” Kinsinger admits. The product was first picked up by Lindy’s, a pharmacy in the inventor’s hometown of Washington. Getting the product into area Walgreens franchises was, at least initially, a tougher sell.

Kinsinger eventually convinced the East Peoria Walgreens store to take 12 tubes of the oddly-named product. The managers told him that they were accepting the product but “without their blessing.” To their surprise, the store sold out of the tubes in two days, sold 50 in a month, and has since sold 200 in six weeks.

“In this market, I’m outselling all the other toenail fungus products corporate-wide; they’ve never seen anything like that at Walgreens,” noted Kinsinger. After the product’s rapid success in its trial run, other area Walgreens began to take notice.

“The area store managers have meetings where they discuss products. The other managers were anxious to know what was going on with the East Peoria Walgreens because the franchise has this philosophy: if they sell six units of a $30 product like mine in a month, they’re pleased.” It wasn’t long before Dr. Paul’s Piggy Paste was in 25 Walgreens in central Illinois, and dozens of other
area pharmacies.

A Passion for Creation
Getting the product into a major franchise has immediately altered the life of Dr. Kinsinger’s gel. “Walgreens has credibility as a marketer,” the doctor says. “They’ve helped by selling Piggy Paste in ways that I had never thought of.” This included putting the product in the cosmetic section of the store. “They go to that aisle to find something that will cover their problem, then think, ‘Why don’t I just treat it instead?’”

The relationship between Kinsinger and Walgreens has benefited the corporation, as well. Besides the unusually high number of units the product has sold, it’s also a sort of “two-in-one” because buyers also need to purchase a bandage to go with the gel. Kinsinger believes that the managers were quick to realize this product perk, and began selling the paste in the coveted “Manager’s Area” near the front of the store where consumers wait at the register.

Though Walgreens helps the family doctor effectively market his product, it was Kinsinger’s passion for creation that sparked its success. He describes its conception as an inventor’s “horse race,” as he had two other product designs in the works and was waiting to see which idea “gained the most traction.” His entrepreneurial energy is directed at Piggy Paste for now, though; current initiatives include nationwide Walgreens distribution and inching his product into Wal-Mart stores.

“I’m just taking an idea and running with it,” Kinsinger says. “This is running on steroids, though,” he jokes, with typical merriness. iBi