OUT OF WORK AND DESPERATELY needing gas money one day in 1993, Dino Miliotis raided his 5-year-old son’s piggy bank. Looking back, he can hardly believe he did it. “I don’t ever want to have to take money from my own kid again,” he says.
Not likely that he’ll have to. Miliotis, 31, has discovered earning millions is all in the wrist. The Chicago native distributes Bug-Ban, a mosquito repellent that has become the rage—and buzz—of the bug-busting industry. Containing a blend of geranium, lemongrass and citronella, the nontoxic plastic wristbands last up to 40 hours, eliminating the need for sprays and lotions. “If you can keep chemicals off your hands,” says golfer Lou Guzzi, “you won’t have slippage. That’s a big draw for golfers.” Miliotis, a former sports-memorabilia salesman who began marketing Bug-Ban last April (inventor Bill Canale, who first showed him the product in 1994, remains a silent partner in the company), says “mosquitoes are scent-driven. They just hate Bug-Ban’s smell.”
People obviously don’t. So far, 18 million Bug-Bans—at $2.49 to $2.99—have been sold in gas stations, golf shops and select Walgreens and Wal-Marts in the U.S. and Canada, making Miliotis, his wife, Joann, and their two sons millionaires. Next, Miliotis plans to market Bug-Ban in malaria-plagued Africa. No wonder when friends tease him about his “human flea collar,” his grin grows wider. “I just tell them, go ahead and bug me,” he says.