Melvin Cohen has an uncanny ability of interpreting what consumers need and then the talent to manufacture those products that will sell. Call him the ‘Idea Man’. Mel Cohen got his start designing point-of purchase displays fresh out of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1950. He started Melrose Displays in 1952 and opened a factory in Clifton, NJ. Handi-hut’s shelters came years later, the outgrowth of sidewalk structures Cohen created for disabled entrepreneurs. After seeing disabled workers manning newsstands he had created for The New York Times, Cohen started making more versatile product stands they could own and operate. He sold the business a few years later, but retained the name ‘Handi-Hut’. Cohen saw a new opportunity in the late 80’s when corporations, restaurants and other workplaces began to enforce smoking bans in public places. He created Handi-Hut, http://www.handi-bu.com/ based in Clifton, NJ that produces smoking shelters which are customized with air conditioning and/or heat if needed. It’s become a ‘Win, Win Strategy for Employers, Non Smokers and Smokers’ says Cohen. As one of the latest consequences of planetary warming: hurricanes, Cohen’s second business incarnation is devoted to hurricane doors. Domel, http://www.domelinc.com/ manufactures doors that can resist winds up to 140 miles per hour. The door meets Florida building code requirements and could become a model for new construction in other parts of the country. ‘Almost every coastal region is going to be adopting some form of hurricane code’ says Cohen. ‘And Florida code is one of the strictest in the country’.
>Besides his love for business, he’s also an avid snow skier, and marathon runner. And his business associates view him as an altruist and philanthropist. With an interest in the theatre, in the early 90s he and his wife, Carol, became supporters of New York’s, Symphony Space. The couple provided financial support to help establish Symphony Space and it was there that in 2002 they held a screening of ‘The Power of Good’ an Emmy award-winning documentary about an unassuming Englishman Nicolas Winton who saved the lives of 669 Jewish Czech children during the Nazi Regime.. They had planned a trip to Prague in 2001, but despite the horrific events of September 11, Cohen and his wife decided to go anyway, including a visit to the infamous concentration camp, Thereisenstadt. Their guide old them of a Czech documentary, ‘The Power of Good’ about a 91-year-old Englishman, Nicholas Winton, who had saved 669 Jewish children during the Nazi regime. Deeply moved by their visit, Cohen was able to get an English language copy of the film and bring it home. Eager to get the film with its message shown to as many people as possible, he planned a special event at Symphony Space and bought out the house. The event was memorable, primarily because Cohen brought Nicolas Winton then age 91, from England as a special guest. The film was screened for more than 250 acquaintances and friends. His fertile mind hasn’t slowed in the 58 years he has been in business, and today he is still ahead of the game, constantly watching the world around him to see what new needs. He can fulfill. Melvin Cohen, CEO Handi Hut and Domel Inc. Past President of Young Presidents Organization NY & NJ Chapter. Mel Cohen has been featured on WABC Eyewitness News, CNNfn, and featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Record Bergen County.